Real Madrid Profile
|Major Honours||La Liga (35), UEFA Champions League (14), Copa del Rey (19), Supercopa de Espana (12) FIFA Club World Cup (4), UEFA Cup/Europa League (2), UEFA Super Cup (4)|
Real Madrid are a Spanish soccer club currently competing in La Liga, who are regarded by many as the most successful soccer club in the world, with a history littered with trophies.
Having won a record 35 La Liga titles, a record 14 European Cups and a host of other honours, cups and accolades, Los Blancos have established a permanent reputation as one of the biggest clubs in the world.
Based in the Spanish capital, their home is the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. It has a capacity of 81,044. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Real moved their home games to the club's training ground, the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano.
Real Madrid are one of the highest earning soccer clubs on the planet. In 2022, the club's worth was estimated to be around €4.8billion. Real also posted an annual revenue of $792million in 2021.
The side continues to be one of the most widely supported sports teams in the world. Real's fanbase stems from decades of continuous success which began with the club's first major trophy in 1905.
One of the most important men in the history of Real Madrid is Santiago Bernabeu. Under his spell as President from 1945 to 1978, the club won 16 La Liga titles, six Spanish Cups and six European Cups; the latter being a competition that Bernabeu himself was involved in creating.
After taking over the presidency in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil and Second World Wars, Bernabeu was left with the task of rebuilding the stadium and training facilities, which were damaged during the conflicts.
There was little success during the early years of his reign with the exception of two Copa del Rey wins. In 1953, however, Bernabeu changed Real Madrid's strategy with an increased focus on signing world-class talent from all parts of the globe. The first major addition was Argentinian forward, Alfredo Di Stefano. The likes of Raymond Kopa and Ferenc Puskas quickly followed.
This new strategy paid off, with Real Madrid winning 12 of the 16 La Liga titles from 1953/54 to 1968/69. The club also won five consecutive European Cups; a run of victories that hasn't been matched since.
The club continued to win silverware towards the end of Bernabeu's reign, including four more league titles, another European Cup and four additional Copa del Rey crowns.
Bernabeu died on June 2, 1978, during the FIFA World Cup in Argentina. Such was his influence, FIFA declared three days of mourning following the news.
European Cup and La Liga honours
Real Madrid's team of the late '50s and early '60s will undoubtedly go down as one of the greatest in history. The combination of Alfredo Di Stefano, Ferenc Puskas, Francisco Gento, Marquitos, Jose Santamaria and Juan Santisteban terrorised rivals and dismantled oppositions.
It was this Real Madrid side that won the first five European Cups and claimed 12 league titles, but Real finished sixth in the league in 1969/70, meaning they ended up outside the top three for the first time in 18 years.
Most of Real's success during this period came under the management of Miguel Munoz. The Spaniard became Real's permanent manager in 1960 and stayed in the position for 14 years. During this time, he won nine La Liga titles, two Copa del Reys, two European Cups and even an Intercontinental Cup.
However, the original don of management at the club was Jose Villalonga.
He led Real for two-and-a-half years, claiming two league titles and two European Cups between 1954 and 1957. Villalonga will go down in history as the manager who claimed the first ever European Cup in 1956, winning 4-3 against Reims in the final.
Following the eras of Villalonga and Munoz came another successful spell in the 1970s. Real Madrid claimed six league titles in nine years from 1971/72 to 1979/80. At the same time, they also lifted three Copa del Rey trophies.
However, this was a relatively quiet period for the club on the European front as they went the whole decade without winning a continental honor.
Real began to lose domestic dominance in the 1980s.
The club went five years without winning La Liga - their longest spell without a league title since the early '50s. However, as the next generation of stars began to emerge, Real's fortunes changed. Players such as Emilio Butragueno, Manuel Sanchis, Martin Vazquez, Michel, Miguel Pardeza, Francisco Buyo, Miguel Porlan Chendo and Hugo Sanchez came together to create one of Spain's best teams.
From 1985/86 to 1989/90, Real won five back-to-back La Liga titles and claimed two UEFA Cups as their dominance was restored.
In the early '90s, the team which won those five consecutive league titles began to break up. The club won just two of the following seven league campaigns but it was in 1996 when things really began to change for Los Blancos.
As Fabio Capello became the new manager, Real began to recruit players who would go on to play a huge role in the future success of the club. Clarence Seedorf, Roberto Carlos, Davor Suker and Predrag Mijatovic all joined a squad which already featured Raul, Fernando Redondo and Fernando Hierro.
The Italian lasted only one season in his first spell at Real Madrid. The short stint was down to a falling out with the chairman, Lorenzo Sanz. Capello had been able to deliver the club's second league title in three years, but the trophy which the club really desired came a year later under the stewardship of Jupp Heynckes.
The German led Los Blancos to their first European Cup in 32 years thanks to a 1-0 victory over Juventus.
The addition of young talents such as Guti and Iker Casillas further strengthened Real's squad as the team headed into the new millennium. The further signings of Steve McManaman and Nicolas Anelka, meanwhile, helped Real to claim another European Cup as they beat Valencia 3-0 in the 2000 final.
It was at this time that Florentino Perez became the new President of the club and began to copy Real's 1950s strategy of recruiting world-class talent more heavily.
While the club did initially win two league titles and the Champions League in the period from 2000 to 2003, Real failed to win a major trophy for the three years after that.
In fact, the club only managed three more league titles over the course of the next 13 seasons, from 2003 to 2016.
However, in 2014 the club finally claimed 'La Decima', the club's tenth European Cup title. It ended a wait of 12 years after their previous triumph on the European stage.
Carlo Ancelotti's side beat local rivals Atletico Madrid 4-1 in the first ever Champions League final between two teams. Sergio Ramos' goal deep into stoppage time levelled the scores, taking the game into extra-time. Goals from Gareth Bale, Marcelo and a Ronaldo penalty put the match beyond doubt.
Zidane managerial era
Zinedine Zidane became the manager of Real Madrid in January 2016 following the departure of Rafael Benitez.
Despite taking over halfway through the season, the Frenchman was still able to guide the club to another European Cup. This, in fact, was the start of a historic run which saw Zidane lead the club to three consecutive Champions League titles - a streak not seen since Bayern Munich's three victories in the mid-1970s.
In his two-and-a-half seasons in charge, Zidane also won one league title, one Supercopa de Espana, two UEFA Super Cups and two FIFA Club World Cups.
At the time of his departure in May 2018, the club also presided over another high-profile loss - Cristiano Ronaldo. The forward, who had scored over 300 goals in 292 appearances for Real, was on his way to Juventus which meant the Madrid outfit would have to go on without two of their club legends.
The appointment of Julen Lopetegui as Zidane's replacement didn’t last long as the Spaniard was sacked after just 14 games and replaced by Santiago Solari.
Despite winning most of his games and claiming the FIFA Club World Cup, Real parted ways with the Argentine after less than five months in charge. What led to his departure was one torrid week in which Real were eliminated from the Copa del Rey by Barcelona, lost to them again in the league (which opened a 12-point gap in the title race) and elimination from the Champions League at the hands of Ajax.
Zidane returned to the club to try and restore some calm in the storm. The Frenchman had a strong impact, leading Los Blancos to the league title in 2019/20 and also claiming the Supercopa de Espana.
However, he left the Bernabeu at the end of the 2020/21 season, saying the club "no longer had faith" in him after he had failed to win a trophy during that campaign. He was replaced as head coach by Carlo Ancelotti.
More trophies under Ancelotti
Ancelotti had already delivered European and domestic success, including the Decima, to Real during his first spell at the club between 2013-15. But had failed to win the the La Liga.
That changed in his second spell, lifting the league title by 13 points ahead of rivals Barcelona. Real also claimed the Supercopa de Espana. Ancelotti has now won all six available major trophies at Real Madrid.
Crucially Ancelotti masterminded Real's 14th European Cup victory, after a dramatic journey through the Champions League knockout rounds.
Real Madrid came from behind to sensationally beat Paris St-Germain in the last 16, after a Karim Benzema's 15-minute hat-trick saved them from a 2-0 aggregate defeat. Goals before and during extra time to beat Chelsea in the quarter-finals, then an amazing stoppage time recovery to knock out favourites Manchester City in the semis.
Vinicius' goal in the 1-0 win over Liverpool in the final in Paris, brought Real their fifth Champions League in nine years.
Real Madrid's biggest rivals are Barcelona. Any fixture featuring the two clubs is referred to as 'El Clasico' (The Classic) and it is one of the biggest games in world soccer.
The clash is broadcast around the globe, with hundreds of millions of fans tuning in. Barcelona and Real Madrid are often the two main title contenders in La Liga, which only adds to the interest.
However, the rivalry is as much about culture as it is about sport, with both clubs representing two distinct regions of Spain.
Cultural tensions stem from the Spanish Civil War and often politics plays a part in proceedings too.
With a strengthening Catalan independence movement in Barcelona of late, the clashes against their rivals from the Spanish capital have taken on increased significance. 'Real' also means Royal in Spanish, with the name having been bestowed to the club by King Alfonso XIII in 1920. This is also why they have a crown in their club badge.
As things stand, there have been 245 games between the two clubs. Real Madrid have won 97 of them, Barcelona have won 96, and there have been 52 draws.
El Clasico is not only a fixture that takes place in domestic competitions - there have been occasions when the two clubs have clashed in Europe too.
Arguably the most famous game between the sides took place in the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2002. It was billed as the 'Match of the Century' and half a billion people tuned in as Real Madrid secured victory over two legs.
Real's other rivals include Atletico Madrid, Athletic Bilbao, Bayern Munich and Juventus.
Real Madrid's fanbase
Real Madrid are one of the best supported teams in the world with thousands of season ticket holders, members and supporters' groups. The club caps their season ticket capacity at 65,000, which almost fills the 81,000-seater Santiago Bernabeu stadium.
The club has one of the highest average attendances in the world, with 74,000 regularly packing into the ground. What's more, Real became the first team to reach 100 million fans on Facebook and have over 1,800 fan groups worldwide.
Real also have a number of high profile fans including tennis legend Rafael Nadal, golf player Sergio Garcia and actor Tom Cruise.
When Florentino Perez became President in the early 2000s, he inherited a club which had accumulated €264million in debt. Unsurprisingly, one of the first promises he made was to clear this.
Perez managed to keep his promise by ceding part of the training ground to the city of Madrid and selling the rest to private companies. The club was able to clear its debts and this enabled them to pursue the likes of Zidane, Beckham, Figo and Ronaldo in the international transfer market. These transfers were part of Perez's other promise - to make Real the world's richest soccer club.
By 2007, Real were estimated to be the most valuable soccer team in Europe. Three years later, they recorded the highest turnover in the sport worldwide. Forbes estimated the club's worth at that time to be around $1billion. In 2022 it was $4.8billion.