Champions League 2016, a Moment for Glory or a Day for Redemption
The road to the Champions League is not an easy feat. In fact, the money, time, and talent invested in attaining the European Holy Grail has become an obsession for various teams such as Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Bayern Munich. But with such glory comes incredible fairytales. While we are not going to see the ultimate clash between the Spanish Kings (Real Madrid) and the German Giants (Bayern Munich) this year, we will be able to see a story of redemption, glory, and honor within the 2016 Champions League Madrid Derby match in Milan.
For as long as soccer has existed within the Spanish capital, so has the rivalry between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid. In this tale, we have two opposing clubs with incredibly contrasting identities. Historically, Real Madrid has long been seen as the more established and world-renowned club. On the other side, Atletico has always been characterized as a sense of rebellion to the crown. Even when Atletico was the more preferred team of the Spanish regime during the early 20th century of the Francoist period, Real Madrid was able to capture the heart, soul, and essence of the Spanish capital, thus proliferating their status as ‘the biggest club in the world.’ But with new era of futbol, it seems like the tide has change. The once viewed working class club of Atletico Madrid is no longer the weak link within the Spanish capital. Instead, Atletico is now seen as a driving force with the world of futbol.
While historical stats may favor Real Madrid over Atletico, Atletico Madrid was able to build their reputation and style of play each and every season, especially with the head coaching of the former Argentinian legend, Diego Simeone. His aggressive style and passionate display of affection has exemplified the heart and play of his rough and tumble squad of players. But on the other side, we have the French international hero and Real Madrid legend Zinedine Zidane leading his team during his first year as head manager. While only having a few months with the title name, Zidane was able to take the dysfunctional complications within the Madrid locker room and change them into a stronger and collective team as title contenders for both the La Liga and Champions League titles.
Now as much as we can discuss the managers’ overall influence on their teams, we have to look at the biggest factor that makes this matchup so great, redemption. Back in 2014 Champions League, Atletico was faced with the heartbreaking 4-to-1 loss to Real Madrid in overtime, handing them the much-awaited tenth European Champions League title, La Decima. For Atletico, this game is not just to take the crown and establish themselves as the world’s best, but also to redeem themselves against their city rivals as the best team within Madrid. But like anything so great, it is easier said than done. Since La Decima, Real Madrid has struggled to keep their image as the ‘best club in the world,’ by losing countless opportunities to win silverware. The countless spending and new management changes has definitely taken a toll, especially this season during the seven-month reign of Mr. Rafa Benitez. For Madrid, this is not just an opportunity to win European crown. Instead it is an opportunity to showcase that they are the best club in the world.
Until then, fans and soccer critics will have to wait until May 28th to see the ultimate Madrid Derby. Whatever happens, this game will be one you do not want to miss.