• The Madridistas do a lap of honour in front of their adoring fans. (Getty)
Real Madrid's thrilling victory over crosstown rival Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Champions League final has strengthened its status as the greatest and most decorated club in world club football.
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26 May 2014 - 11:22 AM  UPDATED 26 May 2014 - 5:42 PM

Ten European champion titles leave no room for doubt or argument.

The mighty Madridistas that play at the fabled Bernabeu Stadium have their critics.

Many do not like the aggressive way they do business when it comes to capturing any player that takes their fancy.

Many in Spain do not take kindly to the so-called preferential treatment the establishment club receives from referees.

Rival clubs at home and abroad resent the massive publicity the club gets from the media essentially because of its glorious past.

But there can be no denying that Real Madrid's reputation as a club that tries to win things in style is fully justified.

Ever since it won five straight European Cups from 1956 with a kind of virtuoso football that had never been seen before, Madrid has mesmerised the world for many years with the quality of its football based essentially on individual attacking brilliance.

For many teams winning is everything but for Real Madrid it has to be done in style, too.

It has not always been successful and its pride would have been deeply hurt by the domestic and foreign conquests of eternal rival Barcelona in the last decade or so.

However even in its leanest seasons, Real Madrid never refrained from playing the game in the way club legends Alfredo Di Stefano, Ferenc Puskas and Francisco Gento would have liked it to play.

There have been finer and more consistent teams than this Madrid side that finally won its coveted “La Decima”. Even better ones from the very Bernabeu.

For all the plaudits it has received from just about anyone who has the interests of the beautiful game at heart, Madrid was largely unconvincing for the first hour of the final before experienced coach Carlo Ancelotti changed the course of the game by bringing on tearaway wingback Marcelo for lead-footed Fabio Coentrao.

Madrid's suspect defence would have been heavily exposed by a more adventurous team, its midfield could never assume control of proceedings as Gabi and his cohorts ran themselves to a standstill while danger men Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo were largely ineffective.

When much-improved defender Sergio Ramos saved Madrid with his late leveller the writing was on the wall for Atletico.

With Diego Simeone's spent players visibly shattered by the dramatic turn of events, there was never any doubt about the outcome in extra-time.

The 4-1 scoreline flattered Madrid although victory no doubt went to the better team over 120 minutes.

Criticism of a side that never stopped trying to play attacking football despite being strangled by Atleti's pressing game would miss the point and seem somewhat churlish.

Madrid to its credit has changed its playing philosophy since it parted company with controversial Jose Mourinho at the end of 2012-2013.

A largely physical and pragmatic team that sought victory by any means was transformed into a flamboyant outfit that was prepared to take risks in order to achieve its aims.

Mourinho generated a level of antipathy towards Real Madrid largely due to the poison he brought to its biggest matches at home and in Europe.

In only one season Ancelotti, the country boy who is known as one of the most sincere men in football, has given the club that is synonymous with football excellence the respect it so richly deserves.

Which is why few would complain about or fail to rejoice at Real Madrid's finest hour as a leading football club.

After all it has done for the European game over the years, from its halcyon days of Di Stefano and Puskas right through Zinedine Zidane and Luis Figo and now Ronaldo and Bale, Real Madrid has earned its 10th title and deserves all the accolades it has received.

Best performed clubs in European Cup/Champions League

Real Madrid: 10 wins (13 finals)

AC Milan: 7 wins (11 finals)

Bayern Munich: 5 wins (10 finals)

Liverpool: 5 wins (7 finals)

Barcelona: 4 wins (7 finals)

Ajax: 4 wins (6 finals)

Manchester United: 3 wins (5 finals)

Inter Milan: 3 wins (5 finals)