Although the reality is largely as inaccurate and wayward as Roberto Soldado’s shooting, there is a deep-seated perception of the social divide between Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid fans across Spain. Especially from folk peering in from abroad.
The Madridista is commonly seen as a royalist, Spanish-flag waving member of the elite. The horrible boss with the ‘Hala Madrid!’ ringtone. The aristocratic toff that won’t even let you eat cake as they want to hoard it for themselves.
The Rojiblanco, meanwhile, is the honest, hard-working soul who sells you ham during the day before drinking beer in annoyingly small servings – don’t get La Liga Loca started on the caña – in bars knee-deep in tapas tossings at night.
The reality is quite different, and especially so in the Spanish capital itself. It’s just as possible to find a mega-boss regularly down at the Vicente Calderón – wiping their seats with disinfectant before sitting down, to be fair – or a lifelong season-ticket holder at the Bernabéu who turns out to be the person serving those stereotyped Atlético Madrid fans, waist-deep in tapas tossings.
Predictable on the pitch
However, the paths to another Madrid derby final in Milan stuck with the two teams’ traditional thinking. Whereas workmanlike Atlético Madrid were forced to slog through four incredibly testing ties against Barcelona and then Bayern Munich before prevailing, Real Madrid got to completely coast in a limousine of luxury.
Indeed, Real Madrid didn’t even have to produce a ‘proper’ goal of their own in a double-header against Manchester City which sealed a path to the final. That route also included Roma and Wolfsburg, though, rather than the reigning champions of La Liga and the Bundesliga, which is what Diego Simeone’s side faced.
Both of Real Madrid’s games against City were cagey, fairly slogging affairs which made much of the ‘boring’ mud slung in Atleti’s direction seem somewhat misplaced. At least the Rojiblancos scored two goals.
“It was not the best match for Madrid in their ground this season, but it was the happiest and most celebrated final,” wrote AS editor Alfredo Relaño in Thursday’s edition, which trumpets Spain’s capital city on the front cover. ‘Viva Madrid!’ was the declaration, with the city once again being the only provider of two teams in a Champions League final.
Europa: the final countdown
There could be more chest-thumping tribalism from Spanish shores on Thursday night, with a fairly decent chance of the country providing all four finalists in Europe’s top two competitions.
Villarreal hold a slender 1-0 advantage at Anfield over Liverpool in the Europa League, but will be hoping that the hosts don’t repeat their stubborn refusal to lose against Borussia Dortmund in the previous round.
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However, Marcelino was in the mood that it was just nice to be at Anfield and on the brink of a Europa League final. “It’s a huge excitement. It’s not a responsibility that is going to cause anxiety,” he noted.
The excitement may well be a little dampened for Sevilla seeing as the southern side are now facing their third Europa League semi-final in a row. Unai Emery’s men hold a 2-2 advantage over Shakhtar Donetsk, but the chirpy pitch-side croucher extraordinaire says that the feeling is still a pleasant one. “It’s a moment that we can never get tired off,” admitted Emery.
While nothing will ever top the tale of Leicester winning the Premier League title, getting four teams to the European finals will be a huge source of pride for La Liga. It proves that the league is not just about two teams, and that even more stereotypes can be overturned.
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