Soccer Champions League

The Bernabéu: Like the Theatre Again, If Only for a Night

The Bernabeu – adapted from image by Cantagalli-Flickr

 

I heard it said often during the brief time that I lived in Madrid that going to the Bernabéu was, or at least should be, like going to el teatro—elegant, emotional, and full of drama. It wasn’t enough to win; one had to amuse, to delight the crowd with a grand spectacle they would savor and debate with great gusto over the following morning’s coffee.

Well, today’s Champions-League match between Real Madrid and Manchester City will presumably only add to the legend (or cliché?), what with two come-from-behind surges and an injury-time goal to bring the people to their feet and thicken the mystified aura surrounding the already storied stadium.

That Cristiano Ronaldo scored the game winner will only further cement and make more ostentatious his cult of personality in la capital, while those who continue to insist that he doesn’t score in big games will most likely continue to insist that he doesn’t score in big games. One can’t please everybody, I guess.

The Spanish press, at least, is pouring on the praise, with José Sámano opening his recap in El País gushingly: “Al borde del precipicio apareció la dicha de Cristiano Ronaldo y en Chamartín se desató la locura, el júbilo propio de las noches de Copa de Europa en las que el Real Madrid ha forjado su leyenda.” (At the edge of the abyss the good fortune of Cristiano Ronaldo appeared and in Chamartín he unleashed the madness, the jubilation of the nights of the European Cup in which Real Madrid has forged its legend.)

Forging a legend is perhaps a strong statement, but it’s safer to say that this win could act as the turning point in Madrid’s early season. Rejuvenated and exhilarated by this dramatic victory, Mourinho’s men just might be able to not only find their old form, but ignite a new one—one in which they actually seem to care about winning again (imagine).

Mourinho posited this match as being one between history and money. The fact that you can’t tell which one he meant to refer to his own side should expose this idea as laughably fastidious. But am I glad City lost? You bet. And am I glad the residents of Madrid got a night al teatro again? I think by now you can guess the answer to that one.