EL CLASICO: THE HISTORY, THE EVENT AND NOW THE CARDS AND THE FARCE
They call it El Classico. Which if you don’t speak Spanish or haven’t had the luxury of being associated with someone who speaks the language, that could be debated as easily the sexiest language of all, it means plain and “simply the classic”. But then again, even the most linguist challenged person in the world knows what the phrase means. It is easily the most influential football match next to the World Cup final. Usually it comes twice a season, three times if we are truly lucky. Fortunately(and I say this with a slight sarcasm) for us we have seen it five times in one season.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am a huge football fan. In fact! I could say that football or soccer which ever you choose to say, means more to me that religion. As a kid I often use to miss church to go play for my local team. When I stayed with my parents, my mother often had to scrape me off the couch like scraping a burnt egg of a frying pan with a spatula to get me to go to mass with her when there was footie on the screen. But five times people! That’s like watching the same video to the disc scratches.
Now, El Classico, if you didn’t know is played between two extremely popular and influential teams from the Spanish football league or La Ligue BBVA(don’t ask me what it stands for), Barcelona FC and Real Madrid. The two of the most famous football clubs in not only Europe but the world. Two clubs steeped in history not only in the football sense but also on a political level. Madrid famous for their nine European club wins, both as the European Cup and The Uefa Champions league. Now no club, I mean no club has won the “cup with the big ears”( as it is referred to by their current manager Jose Murinioh). That is a feat that is worthy of praise. The only club to get near this is AC Milan of Italy. Barcelona are a club famous their beautiful football with a rich history of creating the world’s greatest teams in history, but yet one of the most underachieving clubs. Players like Maradonna, Kluivert, Kryuff, and Ronaldo (now the original one, the Brazilian one and slightly pudgier one) have all graced the team tunnels of the Nou Camp. Yet the club has only won the continental championship three times.
Barcelona and Madrid are also the two biggest and most popular cities in Spain. Now the two clubs have always been at each others throats, the match is important in the league. Normally these two clubs are only two real front-runners to the Spanish championship. This is a disappointment because let’s be honest, fans want to see a close and open title race. Sorry for the other teams in the league, but at least you guys get the nice Spanish women and the even nicer Spanish girls. And being honest here, who without the help of the sports media can actually tell you who is at the bottom of the Spanish table. The other Spanish teams are just there to fill up the league table and be a place where young players try to prove themselves to both Madrid and Barcelona, like the primary school kids standing in line with their hands up shouting “Pick me! Pick me!”.
Politics, like I said earlier has played a huge part of the event. Real Madrid, has always been seen as the governments team. In fact Franco(the dictator in power, and if you don’t know who that is read a book) who was supported by the Nazis during World War II was a huge fan of Madrid and used the Madrid stadium to line up people who fought against him and Barcelona supporters on the field and would execute them. Ever since, Madrid has gotten a bad reputation due to the fact that one crazy dude used an open space to whack his enemies. Personally I would do the same. Barcelona as not only a team but also as a city represents another side to Spain which most people don’t know about. Normally in the sports media sphere, you will often hear Barcelona referred to as “ The Catalans”. Catalonians are a group of Spanish that don’t like to be associated with Spain (except only when it matters, you know like in crisis or when there is glory to be given) that have a total different identity. Their language and lingo is different, they even have their own “national flag” which can be found in the crest of the Barcelona FC emblem.
Over the last few years Barcelona have pretty much dominated Spain and to be honest Europe in football. In the 2010 World Cup of the starting 11 roughly 6 or 7 players played for the Barcelona team. There were only three from Real Madrid. At the beginning of the current season Madrid made a bold move in bringing on the Notorious J.O.S.E, Jose Mourinioh to make a sweep and over usurp the throne from Barcelona. Small hitch, that would mean beating Barcelona to do this, and the first encounter did not exactly go to plan for Jose and well they got lashed 5-0 at the Nou Camp. This match also saw what would become a recurring trend in the four El Classico’s that would follow. A Real Madrid player being sent off and theatrics of Barcelona players. Now as the season went on much build up was given to the match, then we found out that there would be four battles between the space of 18 days. The excitement was felt world-wide, I must admit even I was part of it. The thought of having four matches of great football. It was pretty close to the second coming, but like that, I was bitterly disappointed. Instead of great following football with free-flowing goals, we got bad tactics and even worse play acting. Doesn’t sound fair does it. Matches were boring with more effort being put into press conferences where there could be mudslinging and whining. The first of the four matches saw a 1-1 and a player from Madrid sent off. The second The Copa Del Rey(Spanish Cup) Final saw Madrid this 1-0 after 115 minutes(and it felt like 6 hours) and guess what…a Madrid player sent off. The third was a UEFA Champions League semi-final match and was by the worst of the lot. The match with a spiky first half which saw a fight break out in half time. The second half was worse. Even though Lionel Messi scored two goals, the match was boring, every time Madrid tried to win the ball back there was a dive and simulation from a Barcelona player. The biggest candidates being Dani Alves(who was called by the Guardian “The President of the Barcelona Junior Dramatic Society“), Pedro, and my personal anti-Christ Sergio Busquets who seemed to hold his face and fall to the ground more than an old woman at a family funeral and not forgetting to mention the off the field dramatics of the coaches. This match made me feel sick, almost to the point of vomiting. Needless to say I wasn’t looking forward to watching the second leg of the match. I came to agreement of former player and now analyst Shakar Hislop and to me “the match has now become a farce”. The second leg was a better with a 1-1 draw, a whole lot less theatrics(this may have been due to the fact that there was supposed major consequences coming from Uefa). This means Barcelona will go onto face Manchester United in the final.
The consequence of what has become of these classic grudge match is that there is now a huge lack of respect for the event. In the eyes of many purists are disappointed by both teams for tarnishing the sport. Madrid because their coach say been swinging accusations left right and centre at anybody who isn’t Madrid and Barcelona because they really did themselves a huge disappointment by diving and acting when they really just don’t need to, lets be honest to anyone who really watches football they are the best, their talent and skills outclass almost every team. Hey maybe next season will be different and the event that is El Classico will return to its former glory, but lets just say I’m probably going to catch the highlight the next day.