Real Madrid – From Crisis to Crisis

Awarded the title of ‘the most successful football club of the twentieth century’ by F.I.F.A., Real Madrid, nine years into the twenty first, look to have a lot of work to do to retain their crown!

It seems incredible but the club that has won two Champions’ League (2000 and 2002) and four La Giga titles since the beginning of the Millennium has seemed to lurch – comically in the eyes of many – from one crisis to another.

How many clubs can you think of that would sack their manager hours after winning the Champions’ League for a record time? Real Madrid did in 2002 with Vincent del Bosque.

How many clubs would bring back a manager who won the league title for them in his only ever season with the club and then sack him immediately after he repeated the feat? Real Madrid did that to Fabio Capello in 2007.

How many clubs would replace their president, Florentino Pérez,because his so-called gallactico policy of bringing the world’s best players to the club had spectacularly imploded, replace him with a president who later is alleged to have rigged the voting, and then re-elect Señor Pérez unopposed because he vowed, again, to bring all the world’s best players to Madrid?

Well, you could go on for a long time pointing out such eccentricities. But it would all be pointless in the eyes of the Madrid afícionados who will, quite rightly, remind you that they are the richest club in the world, the most commercially successful – largely because of the aforementioned Florentino Pérez – and, at the time of writing, were being linked in the transfer market with almost any player capable of tying up his own boot laces. Or, in the case of Christiano Ronaldo, probably getting one of his ‘less talented’ team mates to tie them up for him so that he could save his energy for scoring great goals, trying to get opposing players sent off and sulking when the referee doesn’t agree with him. There are those of us who think that Ronaldo and Real Madrid are a perfect match for each other: talented and good-looking but arrogant, untrustworthy and not much good in a fight.

And yet, for all this sniping criticism, I have loved watching Real Madrid sometimes in the past few years. When Roberto Carlos and Zidane combined down the left wing; when Beckham curved in centres for Raul to head home; when Sergio Ramos rampaged all over the pitch attempting to inspire his lethargic team to lift themselves; and when ‘Saint Iker’ Casillas showed, time after time, why he is undoubtedly the greatest goalkeeper in the world.

Because, the Bernabéu is a great place to watch football – for a neutral it can be just as entertaining to watch the crowd when Madrid are playing badly – and Real Madrid can be an exhilarating force when they play at their best.

Spain, and the Champions’ League, need a strong, fast-flowing, attractive Real Madrid team – it’s part of the fabric of life. Barcelona were a wonderful side this year but they had it too easy; Real need to make them justify their ‘Dream Team’ tag a lot more next season. Getting knocked out in the Champions’ League Quarter Finals year after year isn’t good enough either – and football is the worse for it.

Those of us who were weaned on the team that won the European Cup at Hampden Park all those years ago need to see a great Real Madrid team again – so, come on, Florentino, get that Cheque Book out and let’s see the end of Real Madrid as a laughing stock and instead give us something to scare the living daylights out of those imposters in Manchester, London, Milan and Barcelona – especially Barcelona!

Kaka could be the natural successor to Zidane; let’s now have the successors to Figo, Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos and Fernando Hierro.

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Barcelona Soccer Team Facts

Barcelona is a city long in love with sports, especially the Barcelona Soccer Team.

In addition to hosting the 1992 Summer Olympics, Barcelona hosted parts of the 1982 Football World Cup and has hosted the X FINA World Championship and Eurobasket. The city has two UEFA 5-star rated football stadiums: FC Barcelona’s Nou Camp and the Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys.

FC Barcelona’s soccer team is almost a way of life in Barcelona. The rivalry with Madrid rises almost to the point where Barcelona can be considered the Catalonia national team. FC Barca was founded on 29 November 1899 by Joan Gamper, who created the team colors of blue and claret from the Swiss canton in which he lived. Barcelona lost its first ever match with some English expatriates 0-1, but within ten years began a string of Catalan and Spanish championships lasting decades. FC Barcelona went though tough times in the rise to the Spanish Civil War and its aftermath, but was able to recover and by the mid 1940s resumed its championship ways.

FC Barcelona is a sports club containing basketball, handball, hockey, ice-hockey, figure skating, indoor football, rugby, baseball, volleyball and women’s football, but the jewel in the crown has always been association football, or the Barcelona Soccer Team. The Barcelona team has qualified every year for the European competition since it was founded in 1955.

The club motto is “Més que un club” and they refer to their stadium as “Camp Nou.” In English these are “More than a club” and “Our Ground.” Despite a slump at the turn of the century, FC Barcelona has assembled a talented team and once again resumed winning ways. The club currently has a five-year deal with UNICEF, wearing the emblem on their jerseys and paying $1.9 million a year for the privilege.

Among the many claims to fame of the Barca team are that it has more victories than any other Association Football team in the world. They also have more wins in the Copa del Rey, the Spanish tournament, than any other team with 24 victories. There are 18 La Liga Championships, 7 Supercopa de Espana, 2 EUFA Champions League, 4 EUFA Winner’s Cups, 3 Inter-Cities Fairs Cups, 1 Inter-City Fairs Cup Trophy Play-off, 2 European Super Cups, 2 Copa Latina, 4 Copa de Oro Argentina, 22 Catalan Championships, 2 Copa Martina Rossi, 4 Coupe de Pyrenees, 1 Mediterranean League, 2 Copa de Ligua, 1 Copa Barcelona, 1 Lligua Catalana, 5 Copa Catalana and one Little World Cup. It is little wonder Barcelona has embraced the Barcelona Soccer Team and reveres it as a symbol of Catalonia.

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