Having conjured up a number of miracles during this season’s Champions League, Real Madrid are preparing one last magic trick for the final against Liverpool.
It’s the first time they’ve reached the final since 2018, when they beat the Reds 3-1, but how did they book their spot in the showpiece in Paris?
Here’s their route to the final.
Real made the perfect start with victory over Inter at San Siro on matchday one, but a shock defeat to Moldovan minnows Sheriff Tiraspol had everyone doubting their credentials.
Back-to-back victories over Shakhtar Donetsk set the record straight somewhat, and they eventually won the group with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Inter, having previously won 3-0 at Sheriff.
Inter 0-1 Real Madrid – 15 September
Real Madrid 1-2 Sheriff Tiraspol – 28 September
Shakhtar Donetsk 0-5 Real Madrid – 19 October
Real Madrid 2-1 Shakhtar Donetsk – 3 November
Sheriff Tiraspol 0-3 Real Madrid – 24 November
Real Madrid 2-0 Inter – 7 December
Their reward for winning the group was a last 16 tie with Kylian Mbappe and Paris Saint-Germain.
It was the flirtatious forward who stole the show in the first leg with a 94th-minute winner, and while he grabbed another in the second match to put PSG 2-0 up on aggregate, it was a compatriot of his who would command the limelight in the second half.
The French giants capitulated as Karim Benzema came to the party, netting a 17-minute hat-trick to seal Real’s spot in the quarter-finals.
With that first miracle out of the way, things looked to be going much more swimmingly in the quarter-finals as a 3-1 victory at Chelsea – courtesy of another Benzema hat-trick – had Los Blancos in cruise control.
However, that control slipped in the return fixture as strikes from Mason Mount, Antonio Rudiger and Timo Werner put the Blues ahead before Rodrygo levelled it up to take the tie to extra time.
There, it was Benzema again who headed in to eliminate the reigning champions.
At this point you’re thinking Real have probably exhausted all of their magic reserves, especially after Manchester City took a 4-3 lead from the first leg of their semi-final tie in what was a certified Champions League classic.
Hope seemed to have been extinguished at the Bernabeu when Riyad Mahrez put City 5-3 ahead, but Rodrygo had different ideas.
The Brazilian grabbed two goals in as many minutes to send the game to extra time, where again Benzema made the difference, netting a penalty before Real held on for a 6-5 aggregate victory.