Sunday, June 17, 2007

Heartbreak in Barcelona

Football, as the rest of the world calls it, or soccer as the game is known here in the States, is to my mind the most dramatic of the major sports. Every game repeatedly carries fans' emotions up and down, mixing nervous excitement with despair, disbelief with joy.

Today, the Spanish league closed with a finale befitting of Shakespeare. For those that aren't familiar with the history of Spain, during their bitter civil war in the 1930s, Madrid served as the epicenter for Franco and his Nationalists, while Barcelona was a major center for the Republicans. The Nationalists won and Franco and his regime punished the people of Barcelona, Catalonia and other parts of Northern Spain pretty brutally up 'til his death in 1975 and the resumption of democracy in 1978. So, it's not too surprising that one of the fiercest rivalries in all sport is that between Barca, as the more popular of the two teams in Barcelona is known, and Real Madrid. They are also two of the wealthiest teams in football, regularly outdoing all others to sign up the hottest stars.

Speaking of stars, Barca's Ronaldinho has been voted the best player in all football and has led Barca to 3 consecutive Spanish league titles, in '03-04, '04-05 and last year. And Barca led much of this season, too, and looked to be in form to clinch their fourth consecutive title. And despite helping Barca put 5 goals on the board in their last game against Gimnastic, it wasn't enough to give his team the crown. Instead the honor went to Real Madrid with their victory over Mallorca in Madrid.

Mallorca scored first and held the 0-1 lead through the first half in the face of intense pressure from the likes of Beckham, Raul, Robinho, and Sergio Ramos who, parenthetically, looks more like Keanu Reeves than Keanu Reeves. But in the second half, the dam burst as Mallorca's defense cracked. Madrid put 3 goals on the board in relatively quick succession. Their victory meant they captured the league title. My buddy Jordi was in all likelihood at the Barca game, which was played at the same time as the Madrid game. He must have been on an emotional roller coaster as Barca took a commanding lead over their opponent while Mallorca (a fellow Catalan-speaking area of Spain) took and held on to a narrow lead over Madrid. Had Mallroca maintained their 0-1 lead, the title would have been Barca's. But with each Madrid goal, Barca's fourth consecutive title disappeared out of sight.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

my firned, I was at the stadium, and it was terrible. One of the worst days in my life

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