Real Madrid's chance at the elusive tenth European Cup has been more than the 12 games leading to the final. It has been 12 years in the making. In that time they've suffered greatly at the hands of Europe's elite. Here is a rundown of Los Blancos' tumultuous journey to the Champions League final:
2003 – Semi-finals - Juventus:
A Pavel Nedved masterclass helped Juventus overturn a 2-1 deficit from the first leg at the Bernabeu. Juventus were 2-0 up at half time in Turin and Nedved himself sealed the Italians final spot 20 minutes from time. Zidane's late strike wasn't enough for Los Blancos, who had overcome Manchester United in one of the greatest ever Champions League matches in the previous round.
2004 – Quarter-finals – Monaco:
This tie will be remembered for one man, Fernando Morientes. The striker, deemed surplus to requirements when Florentino Perez signed Ronaldo, was on loan at Monaco and came back to haunt Madrid with two goals over the two legs. Madrid were cruising 4-1 in the first leg but Morientes late goal meant that Monaco went into the second leg trailing 4-2. Raul opened the scoring in the second leg but with a 5-2 lead Real Madrid capitulated. Morientes and a Ludovic Giuly brace (including a stunning back heeled goal) sent Monaco through on away goals.
2005 – Round of 16 - Juventus:
A more evenly fought contest than the semi-final clash two years prior. Both legs were cagey affairs and ended 1-0 in favour of the home sides. Both Ronaldo and Alessio Tacchinardi were dismissed in extra time after they clashed with each other. The tie was settled in extra time in Turin by a Marcelo Zalayeta strike. The Uruguayan had only been on the field for a matter of minutes before scoring.
2006 – Round of 16 – Arsenal:
The Gunners made history as they were the first English side to win at the Bernabeu. A second half Thierry Henry wonder goal gave Arsene Wenger's side a 1-0 win in Madrid. The Frenchman picked up the ball in the centre circle and beat four white shirts before slotting past Iker Casillas. A goalless draw at Highbury ensured that Arsenal progressed.
2007 – Round of 16 - Bayern Munich:
Fabio Capello's Real Madrid side had a terrible first half of the season and elimation to Bayern Munich was actually a turning point for their league form. Madrid won the first leg 3-2, but Mark Van Bommel's late strike proved to be consequential for Real, who went to Munich without a great cushion. Bayern's Roy Makaay scored the fastest goal in Champions League history 10 seconds into the second leg to give Bayern an advantage, which Lucio added to on the hour mark. A late Van Nistelrooy penalty was too little to late for Madrid, who had a miserable night in Munich and went out 5-4 on agg.
2008 – Round of 16 - Roma:
Raul gave Real Madrid an early lead in the Estadio Olimpico but Real couldn't build on it and lost 2-1 in Rome. Madrid were confident of overturning the deficit but Roma repeated their 2-1 result at the Bernabeu in a shock win. Madrid again failing at the round of 16 stage of the competition.
2009 – Round of 16 – Liverpool:
Liverpool won 1-0 at the Bernabeu and defeated Real Madrid 4-0 at Anfield in one of the worst European nights in Real Madrid's history. The first leg was a tense affair in which Liverpool refused to be broken down, before hitting Madrid with a sucker punch late on to win 1-0. The second leg was a different affair though, a complete annihilation by Liverpool. The home side ripped Madrid's defence to pieces and Gerrard scored twice, along with Fernando Torres and Andrea Dossena to complete the rout.
2010 – Round of 16 – Lyon:
The French side had proved to be a bogey team for Real Madrid in group stage encounters in the few years prior to their knockout clash, and the curse continued here. A wonderful strike from Jean Makoun in Lyon gave Les Gones a 1-0 lead in the tie, before Cristiano Ronaldo levelled the tie early on in Madrid. It looked as if the curse of Lyon would be overcome but a 75th minute strike from Miralem Pjanic gave Lyon a 2-1 advantage in the tie that Real Madrid couldn't overturn. The failure was probably the final nail in Manuel Pellegrini's coffin, as he was sacked at the end of the season.
2011 – Semi-finals – Barcelona: After six consecutive failed attempts at the round of 16, Jose Mourinho was brought in to deliver the Champions League following his success with Inter. The Portuguese manager overcame Lyon on the way to the semi-finals where they were defeated by Barcelona; which resulted in one of the most controversial incidents in Jose Mourinho's career. Barcelona won the first leg 2-0, but only found the breakthrough after a controversial Pepe red card.
After the match Mou famously asked "por que?" Why? He felt there was a greater conspiracy behind Barcelona's win and suggested an agenda by UEFA to aid Barcelona. Mourinho faced sanctions and was banned from the calmer return leg at Camp Nou, which finished 1-1. Barcelona progressed to the final. A very ugly mark on Real Madrid's history.
2012 – Semi-finals – Bayern Munich:
Another semi-final appearance for Mourinho's side. This time the side were in a much better position to compete and were on their way to winning La Liga in a record breaking season. Both ties finished 2-1 in favour of the home side and the tie went to penalties. Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka missed Real Madrid's first two penalties, despite Ronaldo scoring twice in 90 minutes, and Sergio Ramos famously blasted over the bar. Bastian Schweinsteiger kept his cool and scored the winner, sending Bayern to the final.
After the match, Manuel Neuer added salt to Madrid's wound by tweeting "I didn't know Sergio Ramos liked putting penalties over the bar."
2013 – Semi-finals – Dortmund:
The tie was all but over after a first leg masterclass by Borussia Dortmund, in which Robert Lewandowski put four past Real Madrid in a 4-1 rout. 1-1 at half time thanks to a Ronaldo equaliser, things were looking good for Madrid until the second half blitz. Mourinho's side were well and truly beaten in Dortmund and despite a late surge in the second leg where they won 2-0, it wasn't enough and the Germans deservedly progressed.
2014 – Final:
Madrid and Jose Mourinho parted company in the summer and it looks as though the weight of the world has been lifted from Real Madrid's shoulders. On the way to this years final they have exorcised numerous demons, mostly German. Sergio Ramos and Cristiano Ronaldo both managed to redeem themselves against Bayern Munich in an historic semi-final. Manuel Neuer is even reported to have apologised to Sergio Ramos after the semi-final for his tweet two years ago.
Real Madrid finally have their chance at La Decima. Only Spanish Champions and city neighbours Atletico Madrid stand in their way.