Real Madrid: Remembering the conquest of ‘La Decima’

Real Madrid, La Decima (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, La Decima (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images) /

‘La Decima’, the tenth, a dream, turned obsession to create history, to take a step further at being the club with the most glorious history in the entire continent. No one is alien to Real Madrid’s extravagant tenth European title win on May 24, 2014.

They played their city rivals, Atletico Madrid in Lisbon, Portugal, with a stadium full of red and white. For the first time in the history of the competition, two sides from the same city met in the finals to decide the best club in Europe. It was the Copa del Rey winners against the Spanish league champions. All that only made the game much more anticipated as figuratively the whole city of Madrid was in Lisbon that night.

While the game’s every incident is frame-locked inside Madridista minds, what went behind reaching that all-important final win is what constitutes the story of La Decima. The club’s last European title was 12 years back in 2002, a thunderous Zinedine Zidane volley and a classic three saves in a row from Iker Casillas that sealed La Novena (the ninth). After the historic win, the club went on a drought of sorts.

It was evident that a lot had to be changed. The club’s Champions League campaigns were limited to the Round of 16 stages six times in a row through 2004/05 – 2009/10. A range of iconic players either left the club or retired. The club thus made few historic signings, when Florentino Perez returned for his second spell as president. He started with his ‘galacticos’ policy, something that remains the backbone of La Decima.

La Decima was a monumental win in Real Madrid’s storied history

Two of the iconic signings, as we know today, were monumental goal-wise. Both Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema were brought into the club in the summer of 2009 and then began a mission, developing play, building partnerships, releasing managers, and bringing in new faces. It was finally Carlo Ancelotti, whose management brought home the tenth European title. It kick-started another fine spell of Madrid domination on European Football as the club would then go on to win another three titles in the next four seasons, that too on the row.

The match, as already stated needs no reminder. We remember Sami Khedira being called on to replace the injured Xabi Alonso, Casillas’s error in judgment to give Los Rojiblancos the lead in the 37th minute, and Sergio Ramos’s ’92:48’ towering header to equalize and then the Madrid Tsunami which followed.

The game ended in a comfortable 4-1 scoreline but little does that scoreline show how dangerously anxious the times were with that clock ticking down to full time and the team still trailing to that Diego Godin finish. But as it was the night would end with Iker Casillas getting the first hand on the tenth European Cup for Los Blancos, while Sergio Ramos had the second.

As we know today, La Decima was a monumental win for Real Madrid. It went on to challenge every single unwritten rule against obsession and prove that to be obsessed for the right reasons does take you a long way. With the pressure of winning a tenth European title off the shoulders, Los Merengues seemed much more comfortable in the seasons that followed. They went on to excel under the management of former Madrid man, Zinedine Zidane.

As it is the obsession didn’t only limit itself to that win, it helped the club bond a band of players into a band of brothers, who knew nothing other than winning. It kick-started the development of partnerships like that of BBC, the very popular Madrid trio up front of Bale, Benzema, and Ronaldo. Things that served the club way beyond a tenth European win.

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Today on the seventh anniversary of that historic La Decima win, we can’t help but play the highlights video over and over again and hear the commentator close the evening perfectly saying, ‘2014 is the year of La Decima’.