Real Madrid’s Champions League future was hanging in the balance heading into their final group match of the 2020/21 tournament.
Real had to beat Borussia Monchengladbach to guarantee their progression into the last 16, or rely on results from elsewhere falling in their favour.
Zinedine Zidane’s side had suffered defeats home and away to Shakhtar Donetsk and left it late to rescue a draw against Gladbach in the reverse fixture to leave them staring down the barrel of Europa League football.
However, Real pulled it out of the bag against an underwhelming Gladbach side on Wednesday evening, winning 2-0 thanks to a headed brace from Karim Benzema.
The win meant the Spanish champions advanced to the last 16 as group winners, and in doing so ensured Real’s remarkable record in the Champions League group stage remained intact.
As revealed by Real Madrid’s official website, Real have a 100% record when it comes to successfully progressing through the Champions League group stages – advancing 29 times out of a possible 29.
The European heavyweights have qualified for the knockout stages a record 24 consecutive seasons between 1997/98 and 2020/21.
Between 1999/00 and 2002/03, the Champions League consisted of two group stage phases, which were replaced with a round of 16 for the 2002/03 season. Real successfully negotiated both the first and second group stages in each of the four campaigns.
Real also progressed from the group stages during their first outing in the new look Champions League in 1995/96 – following the rebrand from the European Cup and the addition of the group stage in 1991 – to bring their grand total of successful group stage progressions to 29.
It is a remarkable display of consistency on the biggest stage from the 13-time European champions, who are the only team in the history of the competition to boast this flawless group stage qualification record.