Real Madrid start their quest for their first FIFA Club World Cup on Tuesday with the objective of winning their fourth trophy in 2014. Madridistas will always remember this year because of La Décima, but lifting the World Cup in Marrakech next Saturday would provide a fantastic closure to one of the most important years in the club's history.
Although European clubs are normally considered the favourite to win this sort of trophies, Real Madrid have not been that lucky in this competition through the years. They have lifted three Intercontinental Cups out of five attempts, but their participation in the first edition of the FIFA Club World Cup, back in 1999, was just ridiculous, as they only managed to get the fourth position.
The Small World Cup (1952-1957)
The Small World Cup may be considered the first attempt to build a Club World Cup. This was a trophy that was held in Venezuela, in which half the participants were European and the other half were South American. The qualifying criteria were not uniform, although the Latin Cup is considered to have been the previous step to get into this tournament for European teams.
Although this trophy has not the value of an Intercontinental Cup or one of the modern Club World Cups, it played a very important role in Real Madrid's history. Los Blancos, commanded by Molowny and Miguel Muñoz, took part in the first edition of this tournament and faced there the Colombian team Millonarios de Bogotá, where Di Stéfano was playing. It is said that Santiago Bernabéu, our president at that time, fell in love with Don Alfredo in those two games, and we all know how important Di Stéfano was in building the history of the best club in the twentieth century.
Still, Los Blancos managed to be the champions of this first edition, in which they also played against Botafogo and La Salle, and came back in 1956, already with Di Stéfano and Gento in their roster, to get a second trophy against Porto, Roma and Vasco da Gama.
The Intercontinental Cup (1960-2004)
After the European Champions League and the South American Copa Libertadores were created, a proper World Cup was needed to proclaim a club World Champion. The Intercontinental Cup, created in 1960, served to satisfy this need beyond the end of the twentieth century. In its first editions, the champion would be determined after a two-leg confrontation. In the seventies, some European champions refused to participate in the trophy due to an alleged lack of security in South America, but these problems ceased in 1980, when Toyota became the sponsor of the tournament. The champion would no longer be determined with a two-leg clash but in a single game that would be held in Japan.
Once again, Los Blancos won the first edition of this trophy. The five consecutive times European Champions, with Di Stéfano, Gento and Puskas upfront, travelled to Montevideo to face Peñarol and only managed to get a 0-0 draw in the Estadio Centenario, but they became champions after a fantastic 5-1 victory in the Santiago Bernabéu later on. The same confrontation would be held in 1966, but this time the Uruguayans would be victorious after getting a double 2-0 victory.
After a 32-year-long drought in the UEFA Champions League, Los Blancos got the Séptima in Amsterdam in 1998. This enabled them to take part in the Toyota Cup, where they beat the Brazilian team Vasco da Gama by 2-1, a game in which Raúl was awarded the Man of the Match for scoring the winning goal with his famous aguanís.
Two years later, Real Madrid took part in this competition once again but, this time, they were defeated by the Argentinian Boca Juniors in a horrible game by the men coached by Vicente del Bosque. Martín Palermo, with two goals in the first six minutes, set an advantage that Roberto Carlos shortened later, but the white efforts did not suffice this time in a game where Riquelme left an excellent performance that made him famous in Europe.
In 2002, Los Blancos took part in their last Intercontinental Cup against the Paraguayan Olimpia de Asunción. The Galactic Team, with Figo, Ronaldo, Zidane and Raúl, got a tasteless 2-0 victory, with goals by Ronaldo and Guti, that served them to become the team with the most Intercontinental Cups in history, sharing this honour with Peñarol, Nacional, Boca Juniors and AC Milan.
The FIFA Club World Cup (2000, 2005-nowadays)
Although football's development in South America and Europe has been greater than in any other part of the world, the idea of a World Championship in which only South American and European teams would take part seemed quite unfair. To solve this issue, FIFA decided to create a proper Club World Cup, in which teams from all continents would take part.
Real Madrid took part in the first edition of this trophy, in 2000, as a FIFA guest, because they were the 1998 Intercontinental Champions. Although they were considered the favourites to win the tournament, together with Manchester United, their performance was ridiculous and only managed to finish in fourth position, while Corinthians were the first official FIFA Club World Champions.
After some controversial issues between FIFA and the tournament sponsors, there was no Club World Cup between 2001 and 2004, but it was finally established in 2005 as a substitute for the Intercontinental Cup. Corinthians and FC Barcelona, with two trophies, are the historic leaders of the competition. Los Blancos will try to get their first World Champions badge and shorten the gap in the historic scoreboard.