Advertisement

Hungry Madrid parade league title with eye on European glory

<a class="link " href="https://sports.yahoo.com/soccer/teams/real-madrid/" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Real Madrid;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Real Madrid</a> players celebrated winning La Liga with fans in the sunny Spanish capital on Sunday morning (OSCAR DEL POZO)

If anything defines Real Madrid it is a relentless hunger for silverware and that remained clear even as they celebrated their 36th La Liga title triumph on Sunday.

Los Blancos players partied with fans at their traditional location outside the city's Cibeles palace but the upcoming Champions League final remained in focus.

The record 14-time European champions face Borussia Dortmund at Wembley on June 1 and various players said they hoped they could return to celebrate again after the final.

"Thank you for being here to celebrate this day... I hope we see each other again in June," said veteran midfielder Luka Modric, a five-time Champions League winner with Real.

Madrid sealed their triumph last weekend with four games to spare, taking the title back from rivals Barcelona, but delayed the celebration to concentrate on beating Bayern Munich in midweek to reach the Champions League final.

Dominant Madrid have lost just one match this season in La Liga, against rivals Atletico Madrid last September, and at present have scored more goals and conceded fewer than any other side in the division.

They won both Clasicos against Barcelona and twice defeated their closest challengers for much of the season, Catalan upstarts Girona.

Coach Carlo Ancelotti was a central figure in the celebrations, once again toting a cigar and wearing sunglasses as he did at Madrid's last parade in 2022.

The day began early with RFEF president Pedro Rocha delivering the league trophy to Madrid's Valdebebas training ground at 0730 GMT, with captain Nacho Fernandez lifting it, for the first but certainly not the last occasion on the day.

"Today is the day to enjoy it, when it's something so deserved, something so big as winning the league, it's the day to go to Cibeles," said Nacho.

There were other stops on the way for Madrid's jubilant players, first heading to the Madrid regional government's headquarters, presenting the trophy to president Isabel Diaz Ayuso.

"This team has overcome a lot of adversity, with a lot of injuries," said Madrid chief Florentino Perez, referring to Thibaut Courtois, Eder Militao and David Alaba's long-term absences in particular.

"This squad rebelled against the situation, this club badge achieves everything that seems impossible -- the attitude (you need) in the face of life.

"I want to thank all of the players that now form part of the history of the club -- they have won it all and are still hungry."

Of course, Perez was keen to highlight the team's next target. "We will leave our soul out there to come back with the 15th," he added.

- 'At Wembley, we will win' -

Ayuso congratulated Madrid on "years of glory" and said the club was a "joy" for the city and Spain itself, before receiving a shirt signed by the players and a replica of the trophy.

"At Wembley, we will win!" declared England international Jude Bellingham, the club's top scorer this season, who has taken Spain by storm since his arrival from Borussia Dortmund last summer.

Players addressed masses of fans from a balcony, with fans chanting responses. "Vinicius, Ballon d'Or," cried the supporters, who also called for out of contract stars Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Nacho Fernandez to stay.

Striker Joselu, who netted twice in the last minutes of the Champions League semi-final against Bayern to send Madrid through, received special recognition from the fans.

The team presented the trophy at the Madrid town hall, to mayor Jose Luis Martinez Almeida -- an Atletico Madrid supporter.

The last stop was Plaza Cibeles, where thousands of fans were waiting as Madrid arrived on an open-top bus.

"I am very happy to share this with the fans, who will give us the energy to win the Champions League," said forward Vinicius Junior.

That is what Madrid fans and players are already dreaming of, although Ancelotti had another, more urgent ambition.

"I have a dream," said the adored Italian coach. "I want to dance with Eduardo Camavinga."

The French midfielder obliged and soon the squad followed them in a conga line as the music played on under the Madrid sun.

rbs/dmc