Real Madrid carved their name in the history books once again after claiming their third consecutive Champions League title. Los Blancos ousted Liverpool 3-1 through a goal by Karim Benzema and brace by Gareth Bale. The Welshman will be remembered forever after scoring a glorious bicycle-kick that was reminiscent of his manager Zinedine Zidane, who scored the game winner in the 2002 Champions League Final.
Madrid lifted their 13th title and fourth in five years, making this team a true soccer dynasty. The sport has showcased many elite teams over the past century, with clubs like Manchester United, Barcelona, Juventus, and Bayern Munich dominating their respective leagues for so many years. While these European clubs have been stellar in their own country, Real Madrid has truly ruled Europe.
Spain has two great clubs that rival one another year after year. While Barcelona has dominated La Liga since the 2008-09 season, winning seven titles in ten years, Real has been more prolific in Europe. Lionel Messi, Xavi Hernandez, and Andres Iniesta made the Barca dynasty possible, as these three came through the rank of La Masia and won everything for their club. Both clubs push one another year after year as fans around the world continue to witness one of the greatest rivalries in sport.
While many believe La Liga is the top league in the world, others argue in favor of the Premier League. When we look at dynasties in soccer, you don’t have to look far in England. Manchester United’s reign between 1992-2013 is most impressive, expanding two decades of greatness under Sir Alex Ferguson. The Red Devils dominated England lifting 13 titles over a span of 21 years. During this time, the club showcased superstars such as David Beckham, Eric Cantona, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Michael Carrick and the list goes on. But like all great dynasties, they come to an end.
The Bundesliga has been a one-horse race for far too long, and continuously ends with Bayern Munich on top. The Bavarian champions have won the last six consecutive league titles with ease and it doesn’t appear any club will stop them next season. The Bundesliga has proven less competitive with one club who has an abundance of riches and overpowers league rivals. But despite all their domestic silverware, they still do not come close to Real Madrid in Europe, only lifting five UCL titles despite 28 league titles.
Serie A has been identical to the Bundesliga, with Juventus dominating Italy for the past seven years winning the Scudetto without any true competitor. They are the most successful team in Italy but when they face the likes of European rivals, they continue to struggle. The Black and Whites fell short as the runner-up at both the 2015 and 2017 Champions League Final after losing to Spanish sides Barcelona and Real Madrid. Juventus hold only two European titles to their name and have ways to go if they look to truly challenge the current champions.
Back to Real Madrid. Real is rich in club culture that has driven success for so many years. Superb players and top managers are a recipe for success, and they have an abundance around the club. The magic produced by the BBC -Bale, Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo – has given soccer fans around the world an incredible show these past few years. Although this may be the last time we ever see the three together as talks of potential summer exits are looming, we have been fortunate to watch them produce greatness once again on the biggest stage of club soccer.
Real Madrid will be back in action to defend their crown for yet another season. The target on their back is even bigger, but it doesn’t appear like they are slowing down any time soon. Whether there is a team out there capable of dethroning the European champions remains to be seen.