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2002 vs 2016: Assessing Real Madrid's Champions League Winning Sides

2002 vs 2016: Assessing Real Madrid's Champions League Winning Sides

Los Blancos are in the midst of their second golden era this century. A gap of twelve years divided their four European Cups in that time though. We've decided to have a look at the two teams, and specifically the 2002 and 2016 Real Madrid Champions League winning teams to see how they compare.

Over the years the most talented footballers have plied their trade at Bernabeu - winning countless trophies along the way.  But no piece of silverware is deemed quite as important in the Spanish capital as the Champions League.  It has become synonymous with Real Madrid.  The trophy - like the club - is big in stature and demands respect.

ManagersVincente del Bosque vs Zinedine Zidane

Without Zidane, del Bosque may not have added his second Champions League trophy to his collection. After all, it was thanks to the Frenchman's wonderful volley which secured the win in Hampden Park.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFfomw-Z4uE

 

Speaking solely on managerial credentials,  it's too early to judge Zidane despite his own success.

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Defence

2002 Real Madrid team: César - Michel Salgado, Fernando Hierro, Iván Helguera, Roberto Carlos 

I sympatise with anyone who wasn't fortunate enough to see Fernando Hierro play in his pomp. He was as well-rounded as defenders come with the most remarkable goal scoring record - 102 in 439 games for Madrid. The grainy footage below brings about intense feelings of nostalgia.

Making up the remainder of the back four was international teammates Helguera and Salgado and the effervescent Roberto Carlos - who himself was fond of putting the ball in the opponents net.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NeuVaBKs3xg

2016 Real Madrid team: Návas - Marcelo, Pepe, Sergio Ramos, Dani Carvajal 

As solid as Pepe and Ramos are as a partnership, it's difficult to overlook their disciplinary records. That being said, it's hard to deny their defensive capabilities as Real Madrid only conceded two goals in the knockout phase of the Champions League.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZvm2Td_-wo

Midfielders

2002 Real Madrid team: Claude Makélélé, Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane, Santiago Solari

Hands down, the 2002 midfield were superior. The presence of Makélélé alone is enough to justify the decision. The French midfielder is yet to be truly replaced by Real Madrid. If you factor in that both Zidane and Figo were positioned in front of him then you have quite the combination of world class talent.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1bLx59rmpb0

2016 Real Madrid team: Casemiro, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric

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No disrespect intended in the way of the current midfield. Kroos and Modric consistently provided the attackers as Madrid scored 27 goals on the road to Milan. Talented individuals themselves but don't quite rank in the same bracket as their predecessors.

Attackers

2002 Real Madrid team: Raul & Fernando Morientes 

Raul gave Madrid an early lead in the 2002 final when he slotted the ball past Leverkusen's Hans-Jorg Butt - his sixth goal of the European campaign. Morientes did not make quite the impact as he failed to score in the knockout stage but contributed three goals in eleven games nevertheless.

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2016 Real Madrid team: Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale

To the point, Real Madrid would not have added their eleventh European Cup to the already bulging title cabinet if it was not for the brilliance of Cristiano Rolando. En route to the final, Ronaldo scored 16 goals in just 12 games - one shy of equaling his own record set two years previous.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NyGQ73EbGVs

By his standards, Bale did not have the tournament he was capable of, failing to score a single goal throughout. Somewhat similarly to Morientes; Benzema only hit the back of the net in group stage in games when Real were runaway winners - vs Shakthar and Malmo.

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Verdict

Vincente Del Bosque assembled a midfield which could have rivaled that of Guardiola's Barcelona. Zidane's attacking prowess factored in with the defensive duties of Makelele were fundamental to this particular teams success. Couple that with the leadership of Fernando Hierro and you have starting XI worthy of being in the history books.

This is not to take away from the 2016 European champions but without Ronaldo's ingenuity at times, there would be every chance that Madrid would be waiting for Undecima. 

 

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