Less than 24 hours until the two giants of European football battle in what will be much more than just a game. Here’s a video to get you excited.
After last year’s clasico, Bill Simmons posted the mailbag with an excellent entry on the game:
The mutual hate that Barcelona and Real Madrid have for each other transcends anything I’ve seen in American sports. Is there a rivalry in American sports anywhere near as impassioned as the one between these two teams?
His answer: No. Not even close. Barca-Madrid bloodbath featured 90 minutes of high drama, an incredible winning give-and-go goal by Messi in the final minutes to win it for Barca, then a last-minute, scissor-kick cheap shot by Madrid’s Marcelo on pricey Barca addition Fabregas that nearly started a full-scale brawl. You couldn’t have asked for more from a two-hour sporting event. If you enjoy the World Cup every four years, you will really enjoy every Barca-Madrid game. It’s just a fact.
A few reasons why this is the case. First, these two teams stand alone in the Spanish league, only meet twice year, and measure their greatness only by beating each other. Nothing else that happens in the season matters if you win El Clasico. Second, the division between Madrid, the capital of Spain, and Catalonia, the autonomous community in which Barcelona divides, provides more history and back story than anything in American sports. Over 1000 years of history and hostilities still remain fresh in the citizens of this area, and the game is literally a clash of language, culture, and nationality. So how is this not lost on someone who, being American, has no allegiance to any part of Spain? The players. The are fueled by the animosity of the fans and culture they defend, and when they wear the colors of their home side, all of that transcends onto the field. So much so that the all of the players from both teams ( who make up a majority of the Spanish national team) were threatening to bring the entire team down.
That’s saying a lot for the best Spanish team ever, that had just come off winning the Euro 2008 and the World Cup.
And the final reason why this is such a huge rivalry. Well, I don’t even have to say it.
Add two players, who if they played in different eras would have easily been the king of their class, but instead coexist on the same field. Imagine seeing at the same time Pele and Maradona, Troy Aikman and Tom Brady, Babe Ruth and Micky Mantle. That’s what football fans get to see twice a year now, and that’s why El Clasico trumps any other rivalry in sports.