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I know, I know.
How can the most successful European club of all time be an underachiever?
Well, when I say Real Madrid are underachievers, I'm not talking about the teams in the 50s led by Puskas, or in the 90s when Redondo and Morientes trounced every big club in Europe. I'm referring to Real Madrid of recent times, which, thanks to Florentino Perez, has become more interested selling club jerzeys than winning trophies.
When the Galacticos policy was dreamt up, it achieved initial success. The signing of Luis Figo and Zinedine Zidane brought Madrid its ninth European Cup. But then, Madrid became obsessed with trying to sign every major star in the world, and common sense went out the window along with the team's balance and domination of the Champions League.
Every summer when Madrid signed another superstar—Ronaldo, David Beckham, Michael Owen, Robinho, Van Nistelrooy, Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka—there seemed to be an expectation that the team would prove to invincible the coming year. People kept on expecting to see exciting, special, champagne football, and it never happened.
Madrid has won a few trophies over this period ( a Copa del Ray and three La Liga titles). But this amount of silverware is regarded as the bare minimum of what is acceptable at a giant club like Madrid. Compared to the rest of Madrid's history, four trophies in nine years is average.
Ironically, Barcelona, using mostly academy players, has turned out to be the legendary team that people hoped Madrid would be.