Madrid prepares for Barcelona examination

EPL Properties Ltd

“Are you a football fan?” I asked the taxi-driver, who collected me at the Barajas Madrid Airport.

“Yes,” he said. “Real Madrid.”

His eyes searched mine through the rear view mirror for a few seconds. It resembled the look of a man who had just shown off his girlfriend and now hungered for a sign of approval.

My maiden visit to Madrid comes courtesy of DirecTV’s Madrid Media Tour 2012 and is either good luck or a signal of Wired868’s early inroads into the Trinidad and Tobago’s sporting consciousness. I could live with either explanation at the moment.

Photo: Wired868 editor Lasana Liburd tours the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu during the 2012 DirecTV Madrid Media Tour.

Abraham, who looked to be in his 60s, was my first interviewee and he seemed a tad insecure about his love.

KFC Munch Pack

“We lost to Getafe last night,” he said. “Getafe?! I would not mind so much (if it was) Barcelona or Valencia or a big club. But Getafe?!”

If the words seem bitter, the speaker sounded more tortured than aggressive.

Real Madrid beat Barcelona to the 2011/12 La Liga title, which should make it unofficially the best football club in the world—even without the European Champions’ League crown or the less heralded FIFA World Cup title. They amassed a number of records on the way too including 100 points and an amazing goal difference of +89.

Photo: Real Madrid (background) prepares to face bitter La Liga rivals, Barcelona.
(Courtesy Simply Futbol)

But a stroll through north Madrid suggested that the “Madridistas” have not completely exorcised the inferiority complex that took hold when ex-Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola took the Catalan club to the capital in 2009 and trounced Real 6-2 en route to the first of two successive league triumphs. The following season, Guardiola’s Barca whipped Mourinho’s Madrid 5-0 at the Camp Nou.

On Wednesday night, Madrid faces Barcelona in the second leg of the Spanish Super Cup with the visitors holding a 3-2 lead from their meeting last Thursday. And, although Mourinho’s men will hold the distinction of being defending champions until well into 2013, they did not attempt to downplay the significance of the fixture after starting the season with an opening draw and two consecutive defeats.

“The Supercopa brings us an opportunity to try and forget these three games,” Madrid captain and goalkeeper Iker Casillas told the Spanish press on Sunday night. “To beat Barcelona to a title always tastes good for Madrid fans. We want to redeem ourselves.”

Every town has its own personality derived from the pace, colour and interaction of its people.

Downtown Port of Spain, for instance, has grown more self-centred over the years; yet a brightness and intimacy remains thanks to crowded pavements and streets and the inhabitants’ preference for light colours.

In the northern Madrid district of Chamartín, near the famous 85,000-seater Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, there seems to be a nonchalant, breezy air about the place that appears closer to life in the Caribbean than Europe.

On a Monday afternoon, there was little evidence of the purposefulness that defines London, the swagger of Amsterdam or the self-awareness of Frankfurt. Madrid seemed to be on cruise control.

In the malls, workers were drawn together like a cluster of friends rather than spread out like watchful employees. It is best not to be in a hurry at the shops. Each sale seemed to be part-business and part-reunion.

Chamartín’s wide, uncluttered sidewalks—there are several nearby schools and universities on vacation, which contributed to an ease in traffic—allowed everyone personal space but, in the warm summer, the well-dressed residents were happy to stop and offer directions or advice to a tourist.

It was a world away from life in the Bernabeu of late.

Jose Mourinho is one of Europe’s most successful coaches but the Portugal export is almost as well known for pragmatic football, gamesmanship and boorish behavior.

Photo: Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho

His Real Madrid team has been sanctioned in Europe for purposefully picking up cards to manipulate suspensions and criticised at home for overly physical play when overrun. Mourinho led by example with a bizarre claw at the face of Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova during last year’s Super Cup. Vilanova was Guardiola’s assistant at the time.

Mourinho’s modus operandi seems at odds with the ethos of his employer but it is a relationship that is likely to endure so long as he can defy Barcelona’s hypnotic collection of maestros.

Madrid holds the crown now but one senses that the sporting soldiers in white gear have not completely convinced fans that the war is won.

Photo: Madrid and Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo

In the midst of white Madrid shirts with “Ronaldo” emblazoned between the shoulder-blades, there were several black ones that read “Zidane” and, on the small of the back, were the words “we miss you.”

In Wednesday night’s decisive Super Cup match, Mourinho’s Madrid will try to give its millions of fans another reason to look forward.


Editor’s Note: Wired868 is in Spain as part of DirecTV’s Madrid Media Tour 2012

More from Wired868
Intercol suggestions: More teams, random draw and “mid-season Intercol breaks”

The following is written in my capacity as Arima North Secondary football representative and team manager and serves as a Read more

Vaneisa: Growing a beautiful game—the communal role of grassroots sport

Barbecues, cake stalls, car washes—common fund-raising strategies of communities and individuals trying to attain some goal. They don’t raise much, Read more

SSFL 2022: Grayson guides St Mary’s to Big 5 title, after holding Arima goalless in Velodrome showdown

St Mary’s College ended their 2022 season with the penultimate Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) boys under-20 trophy at stake Read more

SSFL 2022: Fixtures Committee brushes off Arima’s “no confidence motion”, after Big 5 confusion

“[…] How can the SSFL decide that an unavailable ground is reason enough to postpone an already rescheduled game in Read more

12 W/C recalls: 1974 when Total Football almost ruled the roost; sum of the parts

“Penalty! Holland have a penalty! And we are still in the opening minute of this long-awaited World Cup final!” In Read more

‘More than half of T&T’s cable customers can’t access EPL’; Pantin on the Verticast impasse

“[…] The reality is Amplia has a lot to gain from this in the short-term, as they could double or Read more

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the managing director and chief editor at and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

Check Also

Intercol suggestions: More teams, random draw and “mid-season Intercol breaks”

The following is written in my capacity as Arima North Secondary football representative and team …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.