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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Day Trips From Reus

Reus is situated in north east Spain on the Costa Dorada. It is a historic city with a number interesting sights to visit and when you need to take some time out there are a great choice of bars, restaurants and shops.

Reus Airport is just 2km from the city and about 80km south of Barcelona on the CN-420 road to Tarragona. From the railway station in Reus there is a daily train service to Barcelona which takes about 55 minutes.

The best way to explore Reus and the surrounding area is by car. It is easy to drive to positioned near the Autopista del Mediterraneo which the principal motorway going north to south along Spain’s eastern coast. From the Autopisto just follow the T-315 which runs directly into Reus. If you are approaching from western Spain drive along the major E-90 motorway and join the N-420 towards Baden.

Reus is probably most famous for being the home of the famous architect Antoni Gaudi, but it boasts no examples of his work and the finest Modernist creations are by Lluis Domenech I Montaner which include the Pere Mata Institute, the Casa Navàs, the Casa Rull and the Casa Gasull.

Reus has for many centuries been notable for the production of wines and spirits (particularly brandy). Other products include olives and hazelnuts. A recommended tour of Reus starts in the Plaza de Prim with its beautiful Theatre Fortuny along Calle de Monterols to Plaza del Mercadal with the modernist Casa Navas which still contains all its period furniture, coffered ceilings and lamps. Plaza de Sant Pere has a sixteenth century Gothic church with an octagonal bell tower from the top of which you can see the whole of the Costa Dorada.

In the old quarter of Reus you will find the Gothic San Pedro church (Antonio Gaudi was christened here on 26th June 1852), and the Prim-Rull Museum. The Reus Tourist Office offers scheduled excursions to buildings which are generally closed to the public plus free entrance to the Salvador Vilaseca Museum and the Art and History Museum with paintings and drawings by Maria Fortuny and Joan Rebull.

In the month of June Reus holds its biggest fiestas with live music in the squares every night and street entertainments including Castellers which are the famous towers made of men. Once you have seen the main attractions that Reus city has to offer, you might like to consider a day trip to Tarragona, Salou or Montblanc.

TARRAGONA

Tarragona is very full day of sightseeing. It is only a 15km drive from Reus along the N-420A, C14, T11 and A7 motorways. It is the capital of the Costa Dorada, standing on a hill overlooking the Mediterranean sea. Tarragona has a large number of tourist attractions concentrated in a small area.

It was invaded by the Romans in 218BC and most of the monuments forming the city’s cultural heritage were built during the Roman occupation including the amphitheatre, the aqueduct and the Escipions Tower. The Roman city wall was built in the 2nd and 3rd centuries BC with a good part of it still remaining along with three towers from the same period.

Its imposing Romanesque-Gothic cathedral has one of Spain’s finest cloisters dating back to the 13th century. Nearby are the archiepiscopal palace and the archaeological museum. You will find almost everything of interest within the old city walls. The most important street is Las Ramblas which leads to a great viewing point called the Balcón de Europa which overlooks the lower part of the city and fishing neighbourhood of Serrallo.

Tarragona is a port and commercial centre exporting some Spain’s finest wines which are produced in the nearby Priorat region. Also the Carthusian monks who were expelled from La Grande Chartreuse in France in 1903 settled in the city and still produce their famous green chartreuse liqueur.

SALOU

Is just 10km west of Tarragona and is 10km from Reus city centre along the C14 and C31B motorways.

Salou is fairly spread out and merges with the neighbouring resorts of La Pineda to the east and Cambrils to the west, all of which have l clean sandy beaches and secluded rocky coves. Salou is also packed with entertainment for all ages including watersports to an aqua park, go-karting and Universal’s Port Aventura which is a massive theme park modelled on Florida’s Busch Gardens.

Salou’s seafront promenade has beautifully landscaped gardens and parks with fountains which are lit up at night. It offers some very lively entertainment with a number of nightclubs, bars and British-style pubs.

MONTBLANC

Is a medieval town just 30km from Reus along the C14 and N240A motorways. Montblanc a former residence of kings and knights and is the place where St. George reportedly slayed the dragon. In the village there is a marker commemorating the deed.

The dukedom of Montblanc was created by King Juan I in 1387. In the Middle Ages Montblanc had its own fairs and markets and a notable Jewish community. It still have with two thirds of the primitive walled area from the 15th century, towers and the gates of Sant Jordi and Bover and it was designated a monument of historic and artistic value in 1947.

The majestic Gothic church of Santa Maria with its baroque façade has a stone altarpiece dedicated to saints Bernardo and Bernabe. You can also visit the 13th century churches of Sant Miquel with a Romanesque façade; the church of Sant Francesc and the church and hospital of Santa Magdalena with a Renaissance cloister.

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