Real Madrid triumph in Europe when they fail in La Liga

Real Madrid triumph in Europe when they fail in La Liga


May 24th 2014 is a date that will go down in history for Real Madrid and remain etched on the minds of the club’s fans as it was the day Los Blancos finally achieved winning the much coveted Decima trophy, defeated Atletico de Madrid in the Champions League final. It was a triumph that confirmed a Madrid tradition: they normally win the European Cup having had a bad year in the league.

Real finished this season in the third position of La Liga and arrived at the last game of the league without and chance to lift the title. That didn’t prevent Carlo Ancelotti’s men from winning the Champions League at Estadio da Luz, since Los Blancos have become specialists in succeeding in the European competition after a failure in La Liga.

Their ninth Champions League arrived in similar conditions. During the whole 2001-02 season, Madrid fought to win the league, and even sat at the top of the table for a few weeks. However, in the last part of the tournament they came down and finished third in the table, behind Valencia and Deportivo de la Coruna. However, Real would end up winning La Novena in Glasgow thanks to Zinedine Zidane’s magical volley.

Two years before things had been even worse for Los Blancos in La Liga. In a very rough season in which Real had two different managers –John Benjamin Toshack and Vicente del Bosque- the Madridistas finished the league in fifth position. But that didn’t influence Los Merengues performance in the Champions League, as they thrashed Valencia 3-0 in Paris to turn 2000 in an unforgettable year.

The season Madrid won their seventh European crown followed a similar pattern. After having fought for the league with Barcelona during the whole year, Real lost strength in the last weeks of the season and ended up fourth in a time when only the two first clubs would qualify for the Champions League. Nevertheless, 1998 will always be remembered thanks to Pedja Mijatovic’s goal to conquer the European title against Juventus after a 32-year wait.

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Alvaro Heralta is a Spanish journalist specialising on sport, and more specifically, on football. He has worked as a sports reporter for various Spanish media outlets such as Radio Marca, Eurosport Spain, Onda Madrid, and Since 2009, he has written a blog in Spanish called La Medialuna, in which he covers unusual stories and curious historical facts about football.