Opinion The opinion of Raul Varela
Juan Onieva, who was the Real Madrid vice-president for several years and a guest on Paco Garcia Caridad‘s radio show for many others, was the first person who I heard make this statement. He claimed that the five European Cups won in a row by Alfredo Di Stefano‘s Real Madrid side were more impressive than the sextuple won by Pep Guardiola‘s Barcelona.
Spooling forward a few years, we’ve now seen the Real Madrid of Zinedine Zidane and Cristiano Ronaldo win three Champions League titles in a row and Bayern Munich completing a sextuple of their own by winning the Club World Cup in Qatar.
So, which is more impressive? Which is more difficult to achieve? Which feat will be repeated more often over the course of history?
Sincerely, I’m not sure. I find almost the same number of arguments in favour and against each triumph. I could take value away from winning the Champions League by arguing that it can be won without always dominating. One penalty here or there, a favourable draw, a big injury or a certain piece of refereeing can make a difference. There’s always some sort of luck factor involved with the winner.
While winning the continental competition is the peak of club football, then there are the subsequent UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup, with one-off matches that are often played against significantly inferior opponents.
To try to answer this question, I looked at other sports. For example, in tennis. What would you five more value to? The complete dominance of Rafael Nadal in Paris or the fact that Novak Djokovic won three grand slams in 2015 (Australia Open, Wimbledon and US Open) in addition to six Masters 1000 tournaments for a total of 11 titles from 15 finals? He had just half a dozen defeats that year from almost 100 matches.
Without becoming too patriotic, it seems that what Nadal did had a greater impact. Opponents prepared thoroughly and with motivation as they tried to beat him at his tournament and, apart from when he has had physical problems, nobody has managed. That could be a good explanation to put Real Madrid‘s successes of Milan, Cardiff and Kiev ahead of what Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta achieved in 2009.
Perhaps the way to go is to simply enjoy both achievements, especially if they have Spanish success at the heart of them.