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One of the most decorated, distinguished and widely-supported soccer clubs on the planet, Real Madrid are a glamorous addition to the 2019 International Champions Cup line-up.
Los Merengues will be among the tournament favourites, having featured in three games in 2018 in front of enormous crowds at the Hard Rock Stadium, FedExField and MetLife Stadium.
Boasting a squad packed with world-class talent, Los Blancos will undoubtedly be one of the star attractions at this year’s International Champions Cup.
In recent years, Real have wrestled with Clásico rivals FC Barcelona for supremacy in Spain. Although Barça have enjoyed their fair share of recent LaLiga titles, Real reclaimed their crown in 2017.
Beyond that, they have been the dominant force in Europe, clinching four UEFA Champions League titles in five seasons – including three in a row under legendary Frenchman Zinedine Zidane – to increase their all-time haul to 13.
Real’s roster features a blend of youthful exuberance, in Vinícius Júnior, Sergio Reguilón, Federico Valverde and more, as well as battle-hardened experience – notably skipper Sergio Ramos, frontman Karim Benzema and energetic wing-back Marcelo.
Real have an astonishing track record of success. They have won a record 33 LaLiga titles, 19 Copas del Rey and ten Supercopas de España.
They are the most successful club in European competitions, with a total of 13 European Cups (including the first five ever to be played), two UEFA Cups and four UEFA Super Cups.
They have also won more world championships (7) than any other club. A behemoth of a footballing institution, Real were deservedly named FIFA Club of the 20th Century in 2000.
And some of soccer’s greatest-ever players have donned the famous white shirt, including Alfredo di Stéfano, Zidane, Raúl, Ferenc Puskás and, most recently, Cristiano Ronaldo, the club’s all-time leading goalscorer.
The Santiago Bernabéu Stadium is a colossus in the Spanish capital. With a capacity of 81,044, it is the sixth-largest stadium in Europe.
Originally opened in 1947, it has undergone a series of renovations and expansions over the years and work is set to begin on the latest set of changes, which will see a roof added and the stadium’s height increasing by ten metres.
The Bernabéu has hosted the European Cup final on four occasions and also hosted the second leg of the 2018 Copa Libertadores final between Superclásico rivals Boca Juniors and River Plate.
Coach – Zinedine Zidane
The Frenchman returned to the Bernabéu dugout in March, succeeding Santiago Solari less than ten months after walking away from the final club of his illustrious playing career.
An iconic midfielder for some of Europe’s biggest teams, Zidane won all there was to win with club and country, lifting the FIFA World Cup in 1998 and the UEFA European Championships two years later. It was his stunning volley against Bayer Leverkusen in 2002 which sealed the Champions League for Real.
After replacing Rafa Benítez the former Castilla boss led Los Blancos to three successive European Cups between 2016 and 2018, but quit his post in June of last year after Real’s 3-1 win over Liverpool in Kiev. Can his second stint live up to the success of his first? Time will tell.
Karim Benzema – A long-serving and loyal servant to the club, the French striker found a new lease of life under Solari’s tutelage during the 2018/19 season.
Benzema is approaching 500 appearances for Madrid, having joined from Olympique Lyonnais in 2009, and has netted more than 200 goals.
A three-time French player of the year, the 31-year-old scored in the 2018 Champions League final and holds the distinction of having scored the fastest goal in a Clásico game against Barcelona (21 seconds in December 2011).
Sergio Ramos – A Real Madrid legend, Ramos has been a central figure at the club for well over a decade, having joined from Sevilla as a fresh-faced teenager in the summer of 2005.
Spain’s second-most capped player, Ramos has been an integral part of Madrid’s recent success. Named captain in 2015, he’s led the club to a hat-trick of Champions League titles as well as lifting the LaLiga trophy in 2017.
An eight-time member of UEFA’s Team of the Year, Ramos continues to be Real Madrid’s heartbeat, a tough-tackling, no-nonsense leader of men.
Gareth Bale – The Welsh forward joined Real Madrid from Tottenham Hotspur in the summer of 2013, becoming the club’s second-most expensive player ever, after Ronaldo.
Since then Bale has become recognised as one of the world’s best players, with a medal haul to match. In almost six years at the Santiago Bernabéu, the pacey forward has lifted 13 trophies – including four UEFA Champions League titles.
It’s in Europe’s biggest cup competition that the former Southampton and Spurs man has enjoyed his defining moments, scoring the goal to set Real on their way to victory against Madrid rivals Atlético in 2014 before bagging two off the bench in last year’s win over Liverpool, including a stunning overhead kick to put his side in front.
Ones to watch
Vinícius Júnior – The Brazilian winger has exploded onto the scene at Real following his move from Flamengo in 2018.
One of the most exciting young talents in global soccer, the 18-year-old has provided a real spark since coming into the team and has already forged a productive understanding with the more senior members of the squad, like Benzema.
An electric presence on the wing, Vinícius has the potential to become one of the best players in the world and dazzled at the 2018 International Champions Cup.
Brahim Díaz – The Spanish playmaker joined Real from Manchester City in January, continuing the club’s policy of looking to the future as well as the present, and is one to watch closely.
A gifted playmaker who can play anywhere behind the main forward, the 19-year-old has a bright future at the Bernabéu and will hope to use the International Champions Cup as a springboard ahead of his first full season at one of the world’s biggest clubs.