The Selecao star made his 400th appearance for the club this week, cementing a 20-year tradition of Brazilian left-backs in the Spanish capital
On Tuesday, Real Madrid saw off Bayern Munich to seal their place in the last four of the UEFA Champions League with a 4-2 extra-time victory in the Spanish capital.
Cristiano Ronaldo became the first player to hit 100 goals in European club football’s leading competition, but, while the Portuguese inevitably grabbed the headlines, Brazil left-back Marcelo was the star of the show for many onlookers.
The 28-year-old celebrated his 400th game for the most successful club in Champions League history with the highlight of the evening, slaloming through the Bayern backline to roll in Ronaldo for the goal that all but ended the contest.
Marcelo’s milestone left only Roberto Carlos, with a staggering 527 appearances, ahead of him as the foreigner with the most outings for the club.
For more than 20 years now, Brazilians have been occupying the left-back role at the Santiago Bernabeu. Roberto Carlos arrived from Inter Milan and starred for 11 intense seasons in Madrid, writing history at Europe’s most storied club alongside the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo, Raul and Ronaldo.
Roberto Carlos claimed three Champions League titles during his stay – another benchmark on which Marcelo has set his sights. The former Fluminense man is now just three matches completing a Champions League hat-trick of his own.
When the reign of Roberto Carlos finally came to an end in 2007 as he moved on to Fenerbahce, few imagined that the kid who’d just turned up after a single year as a professional would go on to match his achievements.
There were major questions marks over Marcelo’s defensive capabilities in the early days of his Madrid stay, as he struggled to adapt to the markedly different role a full-back has to play in European football.
But the Rio-born star has done his predecessor proud, also playing a leading role in three Liga titles and two Club World Cup victories.
Roberto Carlos will go down as one of Madrid’s all-time greats, and so too will Marcelo, who has become an idol at the club alongside Sergio Ramos and, of course, Cristiano.
Now entering what should be the peak years of his career, Marcelo has featured in the same number of seasons as Roberto Carlos managed at the club and is tipped to remain a vital part of the team for many years to come.
Having returned to the Brazil side after a mystifying spat with previous coach Dunga that left him in the international wilderness for a year, Marcelo is in the form of his career.
And with the Selecao having become the first team to qualify for next year’s World Cup in Russia, now he has his sights set on matching yet another of Roberto Carlos’s achievements by becoming a world champion.