Soccer-Real Madrid seeking to establish new Champions League dynasty


Football fans attend the UEFA Champions League Festival on Regent Street in London, Britain, May 30, 2024. REUTERS/Chris J. Ratcliffe

LONDON (Reuters) - Real Madrid face Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League final at Wembley Stadium on Saturday with Carlo Ancelotti's side seeking to add another chapter to the club's already astonishing love affair with European soccer's elite trophy.

Bidding for a record-extending 15th European Cup and sixth in 10 years, they want to emulate Real's dominance at the dawn of the competition when, during the Alfredo Di Stefano years, they won the first five editions from 1956 and another in 1966.

But after the group of Di Stefano, Ferenc Puskas, Paco Gento and Raymond Kopa established Real as 'The Kings of Europe', it took the club 32 painful years to reclaim their throne in 1998.

Rivals often joked about Real's European Cups all being won in black and white, but the generation of Raul, Fernando Hierro and Roberto Carlos helped Real flourish again in full colour broadcasts when they won three Champion Leagues in five seasons.

But there were then another 12 fallow years, making Real's quest for 'The 10th' an obsession for president Florentino Perez, who failed spectacularly to achieve it via his multimillion dollar 'Galacticos' approach.

Real, however, learned from their mistakes and instead of overpaying for big names past their prime, turned their attention to upcoming players on the rise, trying to develop some 'Galacticos' of their own.

They signed Toni Kroos from Bayern Munich, Sevilla's Sergio Ramos, Karim Benzema of Lyon, Gareth Bale from Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo - all under 24 and set to reach their peak during the following decade in Spain.

The club also started paying close attention to Brazil, looking for the next gem from the five-times world champions' development system. Marcelo and Casemiro signed for a bargain six million euros ($6.50 million) and became club legends.

That youthful but talented squad, under the calm guidance of Ancelotti and Zinedine Zidane, bonded as a group and connected on the pitch like a well-oiled machine to finally establish the second great dynasty Real had spent half a century looking for.

LATE COMEBACKS

After winning a cathartic 10th European Cup led by Ancelotti in 2014, Real then won three in a row under Zidane.

Then, with Ancelotti back at the helm, they claimed another in 2022, crowning a remarkable campaign full of late comebacks that proved they were more than a team built around Ronaldo after the Portuguese left following the 2018 title in Kiev.

Now, two years later, they are back knocking on the door with a team in which Dani Carvajal is the only surviving starter from 'The 10th' a decade ago, as their young guns are eager to prove they are ready to step up and continue the club's success.

Ronaldo, Ramos, Marcelo, Benzema and Casemiro are all long gone. Kroos has just had a retirement send-off and will stop playing after the Euros , while Luka Modric, 38, has become a rotational player in a young squad brimming with talent.

However, barely missing a beat, Vinicius Jr, Jude Bellingham and Rodrygo have taken on the famous white shirt and are already looking to establish the next Real dynasty.

"That generation has been the generation of commitment and positive attitude," Ancelotti told a press conference on Monday.

"The veterans are leading the way and will continue to do so. But they are fewer and the youngsters are taking more responsibility. A lot of young players have arrived. They have technical quality but also understand what Real is all about."

Edin Terzic's Dortmund side are certainly not turning up as guests at the Madrid party though.

Their Champions League pedigree pales in comparison to Real's - a single triumph in the 1997 final and defeat in 2013 - and they are coming off a disappointing Bundesliga season.

But they are no respecters of reputation as victories over Atletico Madrid in the last eight and Paris St Germain in the semi-finals emphatically showed.

($1 = 0.9228 euros)

(Reporting by Fernando Kallas; editing by Ken ferris)

Follow us on our official WhatsApp channel for breaking news alerts and key updates!
   

Next In Football

Soccer-Netherlands, Poland limp into Euro 2024
Soccer-Germans have a soft spot for England after Bayern move, says Kane
Soccer-Ukraine players, in video, remind world of wartime hardship, destruction
All geared up for Euro 2024
Soccer-Mali sack head coach Chelle
Soccer-Danes Eriksen and Hojlund can shine together despite United struggles - Wieghorst
Soccer-Champions Leverkusen sign midfielder Garcia from Girona
Soccer-Germany can beat pressure and Scotland in Euro 2024 opener says Nagelsmann
Soccer-Scotland's Tartan Army kicks off Euro 2024 in high sprits
Soccer-Spain and Croatia brace for another battle in their Euro 2024 opener

Others Also Read