This Real Madrid side are not done with the history books yet. Three months after winning their 10th European Cup – three more than any other side – they claimed the Super Cup by beating Seville in Cardiff on Tuesday and started to line up the records ahead of them.
No side since 1990 has retained the European Cup. It has never been done in the Champions League era. For Cristiano Ronaldo, though, records like that are targets, not barriers. “Madrid are going to be the first team, I hope,” he said late on Tuesday.
Arrigo Sacchi’s Milan were the last team to do it, winning in 1989 and 1990, featuring a certain Carlo Ancelotti in midfield. If Ancelotti’s Real side triumphs again in Berlin in June they will outdo all the other great teams since, including Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona.
Ronaldo gave the best years of his career to fighting against that side, losing the 2009 Champions League final to them with Manchester United, as well as a semi-final in 2011 with Real, before finally overcoming Barça to seize the Spanish title in May 2012. Guardiola resigned weeks later.
One of Guardiola’s enduring achievements at Barcelona, though, was to hold six trophies at the same time, after winning them all in 2009. If Ronaldo and Real really want a riposte, they can try to win the same six in 2014-15. They are one down, having won the Uefa Super Cup, and can lift their second next week, with the two-legged Spanish Super Cup against Atletico Madrid, on Tuesday and Friday.
In pictures: Uefa Super Cup
In pictures: Uefa Super Cup
1/7 Uefa Super Cup
Real Madrid's stellar starting line-up included summer signings James Rodriguez (front row, second left) and Toni Kroos (back row, third right)
2/7 Uefa Super Cup
Gareth Bale delights the Welsh crowd with a bit of showboating
3/7 Uefa Super Cup
Ronaldo arrives at the back post to convert Bale's excellent cross
4/7 Uefa Super Cup
Teammates queue up to congratulate Christiano Ronaldo on his opening goal
5/7 Uefa Super Cup
Sergio Ramos spectacularly fails to execute a bicycle kick
6/7 Uefa Super Cup
Ronaldo winds up his left foot to score his and Real Madrid's second
7/7 Uefa Super Cup
A pitch invader tries to help Ronaldo back to his feet after receiving treatment
From there, they only need the Club World Cup – in Morocco in December – the Copa del Rey, La Liga and the Champions League itself to complete the set of six. It is unlikely, of course, but Ronaldo is certainly aiming for it.
“We are going to try to win all the trophies,” he said. “It’s good to win this trophy to give confidence to the team and let’s see next Tuesday against Atletico Madrid what we’re going to do.”
This sort of language does not come quite as easily to Gareth Bale but he is also confident of a clean sweep. He has not yet been at Real for a year and has already won three trophies. Can they gain another five this season? “We hope so. We go into every competition looking to win it, so we will always be trying our best and we hope that we can. “
In pursuit of more glory, Real this summer signed three stars of the World Cup, Toni Kroos, James Rodriguez and Keylor Navas. The two midfielders are likely starters all season, even at a risk to the balance of the side, while Navas will surely eventually replace Iker Casillas in goal.
“They have settled in very well,” said Bale. “Toni speaks English but not much Spanish, so he’s with me. It’s great to have them here. It’s always good to have options, it makes competition more fierce and then obviously performances improve.” Ronaldo is just as impressed. “I believe the players Real bought are going to give more support to the team and more quality so I am very glad for the quality we have in the squad, it’s so fantastic.”
Ronaldo and Bale are still the two main men, though, the two football thoroughbreds positioned on either wing who will decide Real’s season. “He’s amazing,” said Ronaldo of Bale. “He looks strong and fast, he’s a very important player for us.”
Bale scored the decisive goals in the Copa del Rey and Champions League finals last year, and Ronaldo knows that if he is to continue collecting trophies, the young man from Cardiff will be crucial.
“He had a fantastic season last year. He doesn’t surprise me. He shows his quality week by week so it’s fantastic to have Gaz with us, and to be part of the system of Real Madrid and I’m very glad to play with him too, because of his fantastic passes. He understands me and I understand him.”