Real Madrid’s UEFA Super Cup triumph in Helsinki on Wednesday — with David Alaba and Karim Benzema scoring in a 2-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt — was the first of six possible trophies that Los Blancos will be hoping to lift this season, with LaLiga, the Copa del Rey, the Champions League, the Spanish Supercopa and the FIFA Club World Cup all up for grabs.
It was also another step towards Madrid becoming the first club in Europe’s big five leagues to have won 100 official trophies. It’s a race that they lead ahead of fellow giants Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Liverpool and Manchester United — but how close are they to reaching that landmark figure?
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Spanish newspaper Diario AS called the 100-trophy target Real Madrid’s “new challenge” on its front page on Tuesdaysaying that the Spanish champions would make it 98 trophies won with the 2022 Super Cup.
Take a look at Real Madrid’s own website, though, and a different figure can be found. The club now names 99 national and international trophies, including this latest win over Frankfurt.
Meanwhile, a glance at the club’s entry on Wikipedia (which, as we all know, is the most reliable source possible) lists 96 competitive honors.
Why the difference? It comes down to your definition of what constitutes an “official” trophy. Of course there’s no dispute about the number of LaLiga titles Madrid have won: a record 35. The same goes for their 19 Copa del Rey triumphs and 14 Champions Leagues. There’s no debate about their 12 Spanish Supercopas, five UEFA Super Cups, four Club World Cups or two UEFA Cups (now the Europa League). That takes us to a total of 91.
Here’s where it gets more complicated. Football’s evolution has seen a number of historic competitions disappear — but that doesn’t mean they’re not recognized by the sport’s governing bodies.
That applies to the Intercontinental Cup, which was played between the winners of the UEFA Champions League and CONMEBOL’s Copa Libertadores between 1960 and 2004, when it was replaced by the Club World Cup. Real Madrid won it three times: in 1960, 1998 and 2002. The same goes for Spain’s short-lived League Cup, played between 1983 and 1986 before being discontinued. Madrid won that in 1985. We’ve now reached 95 trophies, and it’s time to look at some other historical tournaments whose “official” status is less clear-cut. The Latin Cup was played between teams from Spain, France, Italy and Portugal — a kind of predecessor to the European Cup — between 1949 and 1957. Real Madrid won it twice. UEFA and FIFA have both recognized the Latin Cup as an official competition, so we can add those to the list. That’s 97 trophies for Real Madrid.
Next up, it’s the Ibero-American Cup, played once — in 1994 — between the winners of Spain’s Copa del Rey and CONMEBOL’s Gold Cup, with Madrid beating Boca Juniors over two legs. Madrid don’t mention it on their website. But they *do* list two victories in the Small Club World Cup: a tournament you’ve probably never heard of.
It took place in Venezuela between 1952 and 1957, a private venture approved by the Venezuelan Football Federation, and was won twice by Real Madrid. It isn’t recognized by FIFA, but Madrid considers it a competitive trophy, and that’s where the confusion lies.
Regardless of whether Madrid have 96, 98 or 99, they’re not the world’s most successful club in terms of trophies won. Scottish giants Rangers and Celtic lead the way in Europe, with 117 and 113 official trophies, respectively. Uruguay’s Nacional — who recently welcomed Luis Suarez back to the club — boast an incredible 163 trophies, making them the most successful club in South America.
So, when could Madrid break that 100-trophy barrier? Depending on which figure you accept, it could come in the Spanish Supercopa in January, or the FIFA Club World Cup — for which a date is yet to be set — or next May, come the end of the 2022-23 season.
Considering that Madrid have won 17 of the 19 finals they have contested since 2014, it probably won’t be too long before they bring up their century of trophies, no matter whose count you’re following.