I have long admired Real Madrid. Long before the Galcticos Era set in, even before I happened to watch a live game of theirs on TV (cable connection was a luxury in my childhood), I used to read about their exploits on that favourite sports magazine of mine, The Sportstar.
I have long admired Real Madrid. Long before the Galcticos Era set in, even before I happened to watch a live game of theirs on TV (cable connection was a luxury in my childhood), I used to read about their exploits on that favourite sports magazine of mine, The Sportstar. the first image still stuck in my memory is that of Predrag Mijatovic rounding off the Juventus goalkeeper (Angelo Peruzzi, if my memory serves me right) to win the Champions League in 1998. Then came that fateful night at Nou Camp in 1999 final, & changed everything, including my allegiance to a colourful Red, forever.
Meanwhile the Galcticos came & went, as I shrugged my shoulders at the ridiculous idea of buying a team of Superstars rather than building it, as United, & later Barcelona showed the world. My fondness for David Beckham tilted the balance temporarily towards the white side of Madrid, as the blue-eyed boy of Manchester traveled on to the other side of the English Channel. But the wily old fox in Fergie showed up his trump card in the form of a certain show-off teenager from Portugal, & I was blown away once again. But history has a way of repeating once again, & the successor of the No 7 shirt in the red followed his predecessor soon enough, but not before having the soccer world at his feet for six years.
Meanwhile, Mr Florentino Perez, the then President of the club, had changes his strategy a wee bit, by shifting his focus away from established superstars to promising raw talents. it is this strategy that I hold my grudge against, not because his ambition rides beyond soccer logic & solely on financial clout, but because the rest of the clubs around the world are helpless against it. Time & again we have seen raw talent arrive out of the blue, dazzle us in a mega sporting event, holding our memory of that event, & then disappear into the obscurity through the crowded dressing room of the Los Blancos. The initial Galcticos era had its hapless victims in the form of Michael Owen, David Beckham, Robinho, Claude Makelele (a victim of the reverse flow), Julio Baptista…the list is endless; all established superstars at their erstwhile clubs, before Real Madrid wielded their clout, & they never were to be the same players again.
Three years away from Perez gave the footballing world some respite, before he was back at it again, his re-election riding the wave of another Galactico promise. Sure enough, the wave began, with Kaka from Milan, where he was at the top of his game & Ronaldo from Manchester (sigh). The World Cup in South Africa in 2010 gave us a rare surprise in the form of an attacking, dazzling Germany who promised to gobble up everything in front of them before their famous semi-final jinx did them in again. But Mesut Ozil, Sami Khedira, Mueller & the like held our imagination. Of course, Perez would not be left behind, as he hunted down the famous midfield duo from Germany.
But Barca showed that money cannot indeed buy everything, as they reigned over the footballing landscape since 2006 with a plethora of home grown talent, and pulverized Real Madrid whenever they met, with an odd draw or loss here & there. the arrival of Mourinho did tilt the scales more favorably of late, but with his impending departure in the summer, status quo is expected to be restored.