Panoramic view of the Santiago Bernabéu stadium.Denis Doyle
Two leaders meet in the quarterfinals of the Champions League. When it comes to Real Madrid and Liverpool, their traces are much older, they come from the old European Cup that brought them a tremendous amount of success and prestige. They will play the first game in Valdebebas and the second in the naked Anfield of the pandemic. That football transcends the pleasant rumor of the game is instantly guessed at the Bernabéu and Anfield, two stadiums that play loud and strong on big occasions. Unfortunately, this time they will remain silent.
There will be no field factor, that 1-0 start that the two teams have internalized for decades. And vice versa, the dissuasive effect that it usually produces on its rivals, who fear like the devil the clamor of those fields, is not disputed. There are not a few coaches who observe the weight of Anfield and the Bernabéu with as much or more concern than the football caliber of Liverpool and Real Madrid
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Eliminated the environmental clothing, football remains, represented by two teams that never lose the status of favorites in the European Cup. They have earned it by right, no matter what circumstantial state they are in. Just in case, Real Madrid and Liverpool remind us that they have been champions very recently, in 2018 and 2019. Neither won their national championship in those two years.
The founding act of the Madrid myth was written in Europe. A good Spanish team, without a league champion title since the Civil War, became the great European benchmark. It won the first five editions – between 1956 and 1960 – and never looked back. Real Madrid is the iridium bar that measures success in football, its standard meter, in short.
Real Madrid has never hidden its obsession with Europe, and it has excellent reasons to proclaim it. With Di Stéfano, Puskas, Gento and company he consolidated the incipient competition, which in five years became the most persecuted piece of football. Defeating Real Madrid was the common goal of the Italian, French, English and German teams. Ahead of his time, Santiago Bernabéu understood that the expansion of football and its commercial derivative inevitably passed through Europe.
His accurate forecast fell short: the Champions League is a monster – half cunning chameleon, half ferocious predator – that has adapted like a glove to all political times and all legal and technological changes. The Madrid of the 21st century, designed by Florentino Pérez, has understood this evidence better than anyone.
We know what the European Cup represents for Real Madrid. He doesn't trade his fetish for anything in the world. Something similar happens to Liverpool. When Madrid won their five European titles, Liverpool were playing in the English Second Division. It was promoted in 1962, led by Bill Shankly, who won three Leagues and no European Cups.
It is always said that the first objective of English teams, and the one that gives them the most satisfaction, is their old niche, the league. In the case of Liverpool, it must be doubted. Its aura comes more from its European tribe than from the national successes, abundant in the 70s and 80s of the previous century and almost non-existent since then. Since 1991, it took 29 years to win their next league championship, but in that period they won two European Cups.
The similar nature of the two clubs, adhering to the brilliance of the European Cup, makes this Tuesday's match into a classic of strange celebration. Two powers meet and there will be no one to celebrate where it should. In the stands.
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