MADRID (AP) — In four days, Real Madrid has the chance to satisfy an obsession that has eluded them for 12 years.
Madrid plays city rival Atletico Madrid in the Champions League final on Saturday, when a victory in Lisbon would provide the Spanish giant with its record 10th European Cup — or "La Decima" as it is known in Spanish.
It's been a long wait since Zinedine Zidane scored one of football's iconic goals to lead Madrid to its ninth title, such that even Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti noted upon his arrival in the Spanish capital: "You could taste the desire to win 'La Decima' in the air."
"I remember that after we won the ninth (European Cup) that the next day we were already being asked about the 10th," said Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas, who is the only player on the team to have played in the Glasgow final, a 2-1 victory over Bayer Leverkusen.
Madrid was doing its best to avoid terming its infatuation with perhaps the most important trophy in club football an obsessive affair, despite the very make-up of the club being shaped by it.
"It's not an obsession, it's a great motivation," Ancelotti said on Tuesday. "We have a great opportunity to get into the history books of this club. It's not an obsession but an opportunity."
Madrid's recent record in Europe's top competition has only bred further impatience to increase its record trophy tally, which led FIFA to bestow it with the title of top club of the 20th century. Madrid won the European Cup six times between 1955 and '66, including a record five consecutive titles.
It took 32 years to win the seventh in 1998, which not only provided liberation but led to returned success in the competition.