Why Real Madrid transform in the Champions League

Tom Devlin by Tom Devlin @rfutbol - 0 2,320

Ronaldo hopes to inspire the crowd. EFE

Why Real Madrid transform in the Champions League

Tom Devlin by Tom Devlin @rfutbol - 0 2,320

After a slow season domestically, Real Madrid return to their favourite competition, in which they are confident of getting back to their best just in time for the visit of PSG.

If many football fans, Real Madrid supporters or not, are convinced that the team will hit its best form in the Champions league, it's not without sense. There are a few reasons that support their theory.

1) They are Europe's ultimate champion

While it's obvious, it's not unimportant. On the contrary, there are plenty of teams accustomed to exiting the tournament at this stage. Madrid however have won almost double the amount of tournaments, 12, as the next best team which is Milan with seven. 

It's not a question of format either. Since the competition was named the Champions League and has been played as it is today, they have won six times to go with the six in the previous format. 

2) Ninety minutes in the Bernabeu

Juanito believed in the legend of Chamartín. In April 1986, in the first leg of the European Cup, 'Los Blancos' lost 2-0 to Inter at the San Siro. The 'nerazzuri' played a great game. However, Real Madrid's number 7 left the field with a warning for the Italians: "Noventa minuti en el Bernabeu son molto longos (Ninety minutes in the Bernabeu are very long)." The player from Fuengirola was never renowned for his language skills, but he was for creating an aura which persists in the Spanish capital. 

Today they call it the 'Spirit of Juanito', in fact. The return leg was an exhibition for Real Madrid and they ran out 5-1 winners to complete the comeback and book a place in the final. 32 years later, the magic continues. Derby County, Celtic or Anderlecht for the older fans; Galatasaray and Bayern Munich for those younger are just some of the examples.

Against PSG the first leg will be in Madrid, but the setting will still be one more player in the lineup for Zinedine Zidane. It doesn't just transform the players, but also the fans.

3) The only repeat champion

Another feat that has only been accomplished by the Spanish giants. Since the European Cup was redesigned as the Champions League in 1992-93, no team had ever won it two years in a row. Real's triumph in Cardiff, coupled with their win in Milan the previous year, changed that forever. It is still something that Unai Emery is obsessed with emulating. 

The curse of the finalist was there. Before Real broke it 4 teams had got to the final a year after winning, and lost: Milan, Ajax, Juventus and Manchester United

4) Cristiano Ronaldo

There is one man who dominates the Champions League as and when he chooses. He's Portuguese and he is not finished yet. A lot has been said of PSG's attacking three, but none of Mbappe, Neymar or Cavani are on the list of the competition's top scorers yet. On top of them all sits Cristiano Ronaldo.

He has 114 goals in the Champions League proper. Not even Lionel Messi comes close to matching this, still stuck on 97. Ronaldo revels in the occasion of these nights and he transforms himself

It's not only because of his return to form following his hat-trick against Real Sociedad on Saturday; in recent seasons he has scored for fun, especially in the big games. 12 last season and 16 the season before, he was the top scorer and lifted the trophy both years. If he scores, the French outfit should be worried. 

Furthermore, in the group stages he showed he wants a third top scorer award. His nine goals so far put him three ahead of Kane, Firmino, Neymar, Cavani and Ben Yedder

5) Frightening numbers

Real Madrid have played 211 games at the Bernabeu in the Champions League. Of those, they have won 169, only drawing 26 and losing 16. In this time, they have scored 609 times while conceding only 169. Simply put, they win 80% of their matches and score on average three goals per game. 

In this year's group stage they drew one and lost one, but they have won 8 consecutive Champions League knockout ties. PSG cannot boast the same.

Since the 2012-13 campaign, the French side have been unable to reach the Quarter Finals and have been on the receiving end of some painful comebacks. Barcelona last year, of course. Others include a loss to a 10-man Chelsea team who trailed 3-1 from Paris, and a loss in Paris to Manchester City after they scored two away goals in England. 

Tom Devlin

Tom Devlin

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