Real Madrid claimed their first silverware of the season and their captain etched his name deeper into the club’s history when they beat Athletic Bilbao 2-0 to win the Spanish Supercopa on Sunday (stream the replay on ESPN+ in the U.S.).
Luka Modric opened the scoring for Real in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh before Karim Benzema wrapped things up with his 24th goal of the campaign, converted from the penalty spot.
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Goals aside, perhaps the most notable incident of the game was the 86th-minute substitution that saw Marcelo replace Vinicius Junior to see out the victory. The 33-year-old left-back may have mustered little more than a passing cameo at the King Fahd International Stadium, but with his brief involvement the Brazil international equalled a venerable club record that has stood for over 40 years.
By lifting the Supercopa, Marcelo drew level with Los Blancos great Francisco “Paco” Gento as the player to have won the most titles with Real Madrid.
The cup was the 23rd major honour that Marcelo has collected since first arriving at the Bernabeu from Fluminense in January 2007. Few could have predicted that, 15 years later, that teenager would equal the tally that Gento accumulated with the Spanish giants between 1954 and 1970.
“This is a historic moment for me and for the club,” Marcelo said on the pitch after the final. “Since I was very young, I have dreamed of these moments. I’m very grateful to get the opportunity to lift such an important title as this one. Now I want to continue adding to the history of this club.”
✌️ 2️⃣3️⃣ ✌️
🏆 #SUPERCAMPEONES pic.twitter.com/c64p1M3RuU
— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadrid) January 16, 2022
Gento, now 88 years old, was a nimble and technical left winger who sealed his legend as a key part of the great Real teams of the 1950s and 60s. During his 18 years at the Bernabeu between 1953-71 he won no fewer than 12 LaLiga titles, six European Cups, two Copa del Reys, the Intercontinental Cup, the Club World Cup and the old Latin Cup.
No player in history has won the European Cup/Champions League more times than Gento, and his trophy collection is even more impressive once you factor in that the European Cup wasn’t even introduced as a competition until his fourth season as a senior professional.
In comparison, Marcelo’s magnificent roll call of honours comprises five LaLiga titles, four Champions Leagues, two Copa del Reys, four FIFA Club World Cups, three European Supercups and five Spanish Supercopas. He has every chance of overtaking Gento this season, with Madrid five points clear at the top of LaLiga and still competing in the Copa del Rey and Champions League.
However, while winning 23 trophies represents an incredible career haul by any measure, Marcelo is still some way behind the most-decorated players in the history of some of Europe’s other top clubs.
AC Milan: Paolo Maldini (25 trophies won)
Revered as one of the greatest defenders of all-time, Maldini proved a mainstay for Milan during a sustained period of success throughout the 1990s and 2000s that included seven Serie A titles and five European Cup/Champions League titles.
Veratti has won an astounding amount of domestic silverware since joining PSG in 2012. The 29-year-old midfielder has claimed four quadruples by winning the Ligue 1 title, the Coupe de France, the (now defunct) Coupe de la Ligue and the Trophee des Champions all in the same season.
A first-team fixture for Bayern since the 2009-10 season, Muller has collected 10 Bundesliga titles, six DFB Pokals, seven DFL Supercups, two Champions Leagues, two UEFA Super Cups and two FIFA Club World Cups. Overall, the striker is also the most decorated individual player in German football history, having also won the World Cup with his country in 2014.
While Manchester United players occupy the first 14 rungs on the list of players with most Premier League winners’ medals, none have claimed more titles than Giggs’ 13. The Welsh winger also has four FA Cups, three League Cups and two Champions Leagues among his formidable haul.
When Messi made his debut for Barcelona in 2004, the club had won a total of 61 trophies in their history. On the day he left for Paris Saint-Germain in 2021, that haul had increased by more than 50% to 96. Messi’s former Barca teammate, Dani Alves, is the most decorated player in men’s football history at both club and international level combined, having won a grand total of 43 trophies in his career to date.