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Archive for January 23rd, 2014

…this is exactly how you feel on the bus, on the streets, in the parks, and in the bars around a stadium before a big game. this is what atlético de madrid, real madrid, fc barcelona, and other teams from the spanish teams have in common: a loyal supporter base that will follow them everywhere, that will sing their songs, that will cheer and shout and cry, that will wear their club’s colours with pride.

it was the ‘eve hours’ of one of the biggest football events of the 2013-14 calendar: atlético was receiving barça in the vicente calderon stadium, in madrid. granted, this was not ‘el clasico’ (real vs barça) but the two teams had finished the first half of the season at the top, with an equal number of points, so the stakes were high. words like ‘potentially decisive game’ and ‘title-defining’ were being used, bets were being placed, the coaches’ choices of 11s were being discussed.

so it is easy to understand why the crowds of supporters started gathering round the stadium well before the kick-off. it seems like vicente calderon is strategically located on the river banks, so that the ‘waves’ of the incoming supporters are easy to spot. atlético’s supporters are everywhere you look, and they are all, old and young, men and women, well proud of posing with their t-shirts, caps, flags and scarves. they are noisy, but not uncontrollable (perhaps since, in this case, the two rivals have one common enemy, which is real madrid), they are in this way carrying on the tradition of their club.

regardless of the result, the supporters of both teams are there for the game, for that first whistle and the last, for the shouts following an unfair decision, for the goals, for that perfect snapshot of their favourite player, for the atmosphere. and the atmosphere starts outside the stadium hours before the players go on the pitch; in a sense the game starts on the streets when the supporters gather for a drink and a song.

 

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one hour before the game, nearby the vicente calderon stadium

 

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you don’t have to ask them twice for a photo

 

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the streets near the stadium are filled with flags and scarves, for a last pre-game purchase

 

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girl helping her dad get his gear on… like father, like daughter!

 

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different generations, one love!

 

this moment is as unmissable as the game itself, there truly cannot be one without the other. for atletico, not having the streets filled with ‘rojiblancos’ (the ‘red and white’, from the club’s colours) prior to a match in vicente calderon would be the same as playing in a stadium without supporters: bare, quiet, and unfulfilling.

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