Real Madrid showed are ready to become the first team to retain their Champions League title after securing maximum points from their group with a 4-0 win over Ludogorets that also set a new Spanish record for consecutive victories.
The win was Madrid’s 19th in a row in all competitions and saw them surpass the run of 18 straight victories that Frank Rijkaard’s Barcelona team collected in the 2005-06 season. The Catalans finished that season with the Champions League trophy and Madrid are looking for the same to ensure they are the first side to win it consecutively in its current format.
It came on a comfortable night in the Spanish capital as Cristiano Ronaldo surpassed Madrid legend Raul’s 71 Champions League goals with the opener. The Portuguese forward was captain for the night in the absence of Iker Casillas and the suspended Sergio Ramos and he scored his 32nd of the season for club and country with a cheeky ‘Panenka’ chip from the penalty spot after Marcelinho had been sent off for handling the ball on the line 20 minutes in.
The Bulgarians enjoyed a lively start but that goal and dismissal killed the game as a contest. Gareth Bale added a second from a Toni Kroos corner in the first half before Alvaro Arbeloa and Alvaro Medran wrapped up the scoring for the hosts after the break.
“It’s a great run,” Ancelotti said after the match. “This team has achieved it by being serious and extremely professional. It’s not easy to prepare for all of these matches with this level of motivation and eagerness that the players have shown. We will try to continue working that way, trying to prepare for our matches as best as we can.
“We have an extraordinary group,” he added. After that defeat against [Atletico Madrid] I could not imagine we would go on and win 19 games in a row. I knew there were only small things to sort out but this has exceeded expectations.”
The three points also mean Madrid become the first team to pick up maximum points from their group stage games on two occasions since Europe’s premier club competition changed to the Champions League format. The Spanish giants last managed it in 2011 under Jose Mourinho and only five other teams have done it since the current format was introduced in 1992. They are the only side to achieve the feat in this season’s competition.
Ancelotti further etched his name into the club’s history books last month when he equalled the club record for number of straight wins.
Jose Mourinho and Miguel Munoz both enjoyed 15 consecutive victories but a slender 1-0 win at Basel saw the Italian join them before surpassing it with a 2-1 success at Malaga. Madrid have continued the momentum.
The ten-times champions are now unbeaten in 20 Champions League home games dating back to April 2011 and have won 18 of them. One more home win in the round of 16 will see them join Manchester United on 11 straight home victories in the competition. Sir Alex Ferguson’s side achieved the feat between September 2006 and April 2008 and had a certain Ronaldo in their team.
The European champions have been in unstoppable form since opening this season’s European campaign with a thumping 5-1 victory over Basel at the Bernabeu in September. Their run of wins included inflicting a first league defeat on Barcelona with a 3-1 Clasico triumph on home soil and Ancelotti’s men have scored 73 goals in the process while conceding only nine, enabling them to also top La Liga.
Next on the agenda is the best winning run in football, currently held by Brazilian club Coritiba according to the Guinness Book of Records.
They achieved the feat in 2011 and Madrid now have that record within sight. They play their last league match before the winter break on Friday at managerless Almeria before they will hope to win two matches to claim the FIFA Club World Cup in Morocco. To equal the world record they would also need to win at Valencia in their first competitive game back after Christmas and a probable Copa del Rey clash against city rivals Atletico.Reuse content