Unreal Madrid. Why Real have the most UEFA Champions League titles

Eugene Ravdin

Eugene Ravdin


How the hell do they do this?!

Last Saturday, Real Madrid were lucky to leave for the break at 0-0 in the UEFA Champions League final at Wembley against Borussia Dortmund. Forty-five minutes later they won their ninth straight UCL final taking their all-time tally to 15 titles.

Despite approaching the match as heavy underdogs at 17/4 odds (4.75), Dortmund were the better side in the first half and had four scoring changes through Karim Adeyemi, Niclas Füllkrug who hit the far post on 23 minutes, and Marcel Sabitzer whose long-range effort was parried by Thibaut Courtois.

Madrid were vulnerable to Dortmund's through-balls into the final third and rarely threatened until Carlo Ancelotti made adjustments after the break moving Federico Valverde inside. This helped his team to find a better balance, both in possession play and defensively.

Eventually, Dortmund lost the ball in their own half and conceded a corner – have you ever noticed that it's the soft ones that usually kill you, not the hard-fought ones? – before Toni Kroos, making his last club career appearance, crossed for Dani Carvajal to head the ball home. Nine minutes later, Vinícius Júnior added a second after another cheap mistake.

Sounds like just another match summary, you might say, nothing special. Indeed. It would have been nothing special if it was a one-off gig, an occasion. But no. Madrid have been doing this since 1997/98. Hence the question.

How the hell do they do this?!

Their coach can be Carlo Ancelotti, or Jupp Heynckes, or Vicente del Bosque, or Zinedine Zidane. It can be year 1998, 2014, or 2024. Madrid can be having a good season or a bad season. They can be playing against a defensive or an attacking team in Paris, London, or Amsterdam. The outcome has always been the same, nine times out of nine in the UEFA Champions League era.

There has always been someone to win it for Madrid. Carvajal outjumping the towering Füllkrug at a corner-kick, Vini Jr. popping up at the far post against the run of play, Cristiano Ronaldo dispatching the decisive penalty, Sergio Ramos making it 1-1 in the third minute of the injury time. Nine out of nine is a coincidence or luck, and I surely like the Harry Potter books but from what I heard he was more into quidditch than association football.

Real Madrid v Atlético Madrid: 2014 UEFA Champions League final highlights

So what is it?

Is it about Real? The belief that they own the competition, that they truly are Los Reyes de Europa, The Kings of Europe. The boost of strength catalysed by the Champions League anthem and the trademark starball. Some positive feeling of superiority fueled by the historical European titles, the club pedigree, the sheer quality of the players that have ever worn the white jerseys throughout the years.

Or is it about the teams on the wrong half of the pitch? The lack of European experience. The trembling knees when they see the invincible Champions League winners line up against them before the kick-off. The fear this might be their only shot at this particular trophy ever.

Perhaps, a mix of it all.

Names don't play football, they say. Well, in the case of Real Madrid, they might. For when it comes to the UEFA Champions League, Real Madrid is not merely a club or a team, or a group of men managed by another man. But a mystic force to be reckoned with. An elemental force, probably.

Coaches with the most UEFA Champions League titles


Players with the most UEFA Champions League titles


Review Author

Eugene Ravdin

Eugene Ravdin

Hey! I've been working for the official UEFA website for 18 years as a translator, reporter, editor, and language version editor in chief.


Vadims Mikeļevičs

Vadims Mikeļevičs

Vadims Mikeļevičs is an e-sports and biathlon enthusiast with years of writing experience about games, sports, and bookmakers.