Real Madrid's greatest XI of all time
Real Madrid are one of the biggest clubs in the world in terms of on-field achievements and global fan following.
With 91 trophies in all competitions - a tally that consists of a record 34 La Liga and 13 UEFA Champions League titles - Real Madrid (along with Barcelona) are the most successful club in Europe's top five leagues.
The reigning La Liga champions are the first club in the Champions League era to successfully defend their title. In fact, their three-peat between 2016 and 2018 was the first time in over four decades that a team won three consecutive titles in the competition.
Real Madrid's all-time greatest XI
Real Madrid are one of three clubs who have never been relegated from the Spanish top flight during the competition's nine-decade history, with the others being Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao.
Considering their pedigree both in Spain and Europe, some of the best players in the world have donned the colours of the legendary Spanish capital club. On that note, let us have a look at Real Madrid's greatest all-time XI.
Goalkeeper - Iker Casillas
Iker Casillas is widely regarded as one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time. After coming through the ranks at Real Madrid, Casillas made his debut for the club in 1999 as a precocious teenager.
During 16 glorious seasons at Real Madrid, Casillas kept an impressive 264 clean sheets in 725 appearances in all competitions, despite the Merengues not being particularly renowned for having the meanest of defences.
Casillas had outstanding reflexes, agility, shot-stopping prowess and composure in one-on-one situations. He won five La Liga trophies and three Champions League titles among a host of other honours with Real Madrid.
The most-capped player in the Champions League (177 appearances) also captained Spain to their first-ever FIFA World Cup title in 2010 either side of consecutive successes in the European Championships.
Left-back - Roberto Carlos
Roberto Carlos is arguably the most offensive left-back in the history of the sport.
During 11 successful seasons at Real Madrid, the Brazilian scored an impressive 70 goals and provided 88 assists in over 500 appearances in all competitions for the club. His goal-scoring prowess and versatility meant that Carlos was also deployed as a winger at times, but it was as a left-back that he had the greatest impact.
Carlos, not surprisingly, was renowned for his goal-scoring ability, dribbling skills, crossing expertise, work rate, long throw-ins and his set-piece prowess. The 2002 FIFA World Cup winner won four La Liga trophies and three Champions League titles, among other domestic and continental honours, before leaving Real Madrid in the summer of 2007.
Centre-back - Sergio Ramos
One of the finest goal-scoring defenders of all time, Sergio Ramos arrived at Real Madrid from Sevilla in the summer of 2005 and has never looked back.
Although he is infamous for being the player with the most send-offs in La Liga and Champions League history, Ramos is one of the pillars of Real Madrid's new-found defensive capability while also contributing up front.
The Real Madrid captain is renowned for his tackling ability, aerial prowess, eye for goals and set-piece ability. Since the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo, Ramos assumed penalty-taking duties for Real Madrid and has scored all of his 15 spot-kicks.
His formidable central defensive partnership with Raphael Varane played a key role in Real Madrid conceding a meagre 25 goals all season as they won their first La Liga title in three years.
Centre-back - Fernando Hierro
During a successful 14-year stint with Real Madrid, Fernando Hierro conjured over 100 goals in 522 appearances in all competitions for the club, which is an impressive tally for a defender.
Hierro was particularly renowned for his solid defensive play, impressive passing ability and prolific goalscoring prowess. The 52-year-old's versatility meant that he could also be deployed as a defensive midfielder or a sweeper; however, he made the most impact as a centre-back.
Between 1991-92 and 1994-95, Hierro scored an impressive 55 times across competitions as Real Madrid won the La Liga, Copa Del Rey and Spanish Super Cup titles.
Right-back - Chendo
Miguel Porlan Noguera, more commonly known as Chendo, played for Real Madrid during his entire professional career.
After graduating through the youth ranks at the club, Chendo made his Real Madrid debut under Alfredo Di Stefano in 1984 and never looked back. During his 16-season stint at the Santiago Bernabeu, the right-back won seven La Liga titles, one UEFA Cup and two European Cups (now called the Champions League) among other exaltations.
Chendo was the undisputed right-back for Real Madrid in the side's five consecutive La Liga triumphs from 1986 to 1990. The Spaniard also made his name by taking a certain Diego Maradona out of the game in a European Cup clash with Napoli in 1987.
Central midfielder - Toni Kroos
Toni Kroos may have been at Real Madrid for only six seasons but during this relatively short period at the club, the 2014 FIFA World Cup winner has won over the Madrid faithful.
A central midfielder par excellence, the former Bayern Munich player is renowned for his passing range, creativity, break-up of the opposition play and chance-creating abilities. His versatility allows him to be deployed in a plethora of midfield roles like deep-lying playmaker, box-to-box midfielder or even as a defensive midfielder.
Despite his accurate shots from a distance, Kroos doesn't score a lot of goals. He has scored only 19 times in 284 appearances for Real Madrid but has conjured scoring opportunities aplenty - 68 of them to be precise.
Quite simply, the 30-year-old German international has been an indispensable player for Real Madrid, winning three Champions League and two La Liga titles among other domestic and continental honours.
Left-winger - Paco Gento
Paco Gento is widely regarded as one of the greatest Spanish players of all time and one of the best to have worn the famous Real Madrid jersey.
During his 18-season stint with Real Madrid from 1953 to 1971, the player blazed a trail down the left flank, with his excellent vision and technical ability helping him create a bevvy of scoring opportunities for teammates.
Apart from his goal-creating prowess, Gento also scored plenty of goals for Madrid - netting 134 times in all competitions.
He has also won a staggering 12 La Liga and six European Champions Clubs' Cup (now called the Champions League) titles - both of them being record tallies.
Central midfielder - Zinedine Zidane
Zinedine Zidane, affectionately nicknamed Zizou, is arguably one of the greatest footballers to have played the sport.
After arriving from Juventus on a world-record transfer in the summer of 2001, Zidane endeared himself to the Real Madrid faithful by scoring a stunner of a goal against Bayer Leverkusen in the 2002 Champions League final to deliver the club's ninth title in the competition.
The versatile Frenchman, who won the 1998 FIFA World Cup and the 2000 European Championships with France, is renowned for his technical abilities, vision, scoring and goal-creating prowess.
He did not score a lot of goals for Real Madrid - 49 of them to be exact - but he provided many assists (68) to his teammates.
Zidane's game transcended beyond numbers. Among major honours, he might have won just one La Liga title and one Champions League title for Real Madrid, but his presence brought a much-needed calmness to his team. That was because the 1998 Ballon d'Or winner could seemingly create magic out of thin air.
Forward - Alfredo Di Stefano
Alfredo Di Stefano is widely acclaimed to be one of the best players of all time. At Real Madrid in 1953, he ushered an era of unprecedented domestic and continental dominance for the Spanish giants.
During a decade-long stint at Real Madrid, the Argentine forward won five consecutive European Cups and eight La Liga titles while scoring goals aplenty - 308 of them to be exact.
For more than three decades, Di Stefano was the all-time top scorer for Real Madrid before he was surpassed by two other players.
The diminutive striker, who was renowned for his leadership qualities both on and off the pitch, could play anywhere in the attacking and middle third but it was up front where he was at his devastating best.
After his retirement, Di Stefano was the coach of Real Madrid for a while and was the club's honorary life-time president before his unfortunate death in 2014.
Forward - Raul
Raul Gonzalez, better known by his first name Raul, is one of the most decorated players in the history of Real Madrid.
After coming through the ranks, Raul played for 16 seasons at the club, becoming the club's all-time record-scorer and appearance maker before he was surpassed by another player on the goal front.
One of the most illustrious number 7s of all time, Raul could operate in a bevvy of positions along the attacking third, although he excelled most as a centre-forward or second striker.
Predominantly a left-footed player, Raul was renowned for his prolific goalscoring, creativity, technical skills and clever movement off the ball to draw out opposition defenders and create goalscoring opportunities for his teammates.
Forward - Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the best players to have graced the beautiful game of football.
During an illustrious nine-season-long stint at Real Madrid, Ronaldo scored a staggering 50 goals per season for an astounding total of 450 goals in 438 games in all competitions.
The Portugal captain, who initially started as a left-winger before transitioning to the centre of the attack, is the second-most prolific scorer in La Liga history with 311 goals. The first player to breach the 40-goal mark in a La Liga season only won two La Liga titles with Real Madrid but excelled in the Champions League like none else.
Ronaldo's truckload of goals in the competition helped Real Madrid to four Champions League titles in five seasons, with the player also winning four Ballon d'Or titles during his time at the Spanish capital club.
Adept off both feet and capable of playing in either wing, the 35-year-old is also blessed with outstanding aerial prowess that helps him score goals of unfathomable brilliance past awe-struck defenders.
Nine years after arriving at Real Madrid on an €80 million transfer, Ronaldo left for Juventus on a €100 million move in the summer of 2018 to become the Bianconeri's most expensive acquisition in history. Nevertheless, the Portuguese maestro's place in the annals of Real Madrid's history books is never in doubt.