Real Madrid eyeing record 15th trophy before Mbappe arrival

Real Madrid's Spanish forward Lucas Vazquez and Real Madrid's Brazilian defender Eder Militao attend a training session at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on May 27, 2024 ahead of their Champions League final. [AFP]

Whether they admit it or not, there is no doubt Real Madrid consider themselves favourites to beat Borussia Dortmund on Saturday and win a record-extending 15th Champions League trophy.

Not only because the German side are shock finalists, but simply because the kings of Europe would feel the same way regardless of the opposition.

Another triumph on the biggest stage would be the perfect showcase of their power and prestige to superstar striker Kylian Mbappe, set to join from Paris Saint-Germain in the summer.

Madrid play with a belief that they will prevail, but also with the humility to know that to do so requires flexibility in the ‘how’.

They demonstrated as much in the quarter-finals against champions Manchester City, keeping their backs to the wall and squeezing through on penalties.

They delivered a trademark last-gasp sucker-punch on Bayern Munich to reach the final after falling behind, with substitute Joselu netting a late brace for Carlo Ancelotti’s team. That is precisely when comeback experts Madrid strike -- just when opponents start to believe that they can’t do it, that they are finally defeated, that they are out.

Madrid have established an astonishing European hegemony, with five triumphs in the last decade.

The next closest side to Los Blancos in overall victories is AC Milan with seven, the most recent of those 17 years ago.

Coach Carlo Ancelotti pointed out one of the principal reasons for Madrid’s dominance -- the club’s president.

“Here there is a captain and he’s called Florentino Perez,” said the Italian earlier in May. “The rest of us are sailors.”

The chief has been the constant in Madrid’s most recent era of success, although their love affair with the European Cup started long before his reign.

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