The Long Read: The Rise and Fall of La Quinta del Buitre in Five Matches

It would not be stretching a point to say that the ‘Quinta del Buitre’ of the late eighties changed the face of Spanish football, planting the seeds of what was to come in the following decades. After a long spell in which hard work, courage and fighting spirit had become the arguably limited values of Spain’s approach to the beautiful game, four kids from Madrid and one from Huelva brought flair to the table, played as though no goal difference was big enough, won European competitions after years of drought and made many believe that the “Furia Española” tag had indeed become obsolete. Heck, even Pep Guardiola states that the Quinta was Real Madrid’s best version ever. Continue reading “The Long Read: The Rise and Fall of La Quinta del Buitre in Five Matches”

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Decline and Fall

When I was writing ‘White Storm’ for Real Madrid’s centenary, a book commissioned by a British publisher and endorsed by the club as kosher, I got to meet various interesting people at planet Bernabéu. Some were more interesting than others – but that’s the nature of a multi-national enterprise, although it felt less like an impersonal leviathan back then in the early naughties. One of the most interesting (and remarkably open) folks I spoke to was Jorge Valdano.  Valdano wasn’t everyone’s cup of coffee back then, but as Director of Football he acted as a public buffer between the club’s supporters, the press and Florentino Pérez, then a relative newcomer to the presidential post but already beginning to put his ‘galácticos’ policy into action. José Angel Sánchez had been in his post as head of marketing for about two years, and was already Pérez’s most trusted lieutenant. Continue reading “Decline and Fall”

More than numbers

On Ronaldo’s Real Madrid tenure

Note: This is a highly personal account of Cristiano Ronaldo’s tenure as a Real Madrid player. To throw in some relevant background, I have to say that I don’t attach much importance to individual accolades in a sport that uses eleven players plus subs, and that I also believe that it’s almost impossible to decide who the GOAT is in most sports, especially football.

Continue reading “More than numbers”

A long summer

Real Madrid watches its squad weaken while the summer goes by

neymar rm
No, not happening

This summer feels long and awkward, at least from the perspective of most Real Madrid fans. The days of the prohibitive, but exciting signings are gone. Instead, the club has kept a very low profile, and only speaks to the press in the form of public statements denying negotiations with Neymar or Mbappe, when it was quite obvious that the rumours associating those players with Real Madrid were completely implausible. Reminds one of an ageing playboy denying having had anything to do with up-and- coming stars just to make himself relevant again, but failing in the process. Continue reading “A long summer”

What now, Real Madrid?

Another Real Madrid win. What’s next?

Phil has said it best: “Well, that was pretty bonkers”. It was a weird final indeed, one in which Liverpool’s showed the resilience that most winning sides need, but lacked the depth required to deal with Real Madrid. Continue reading “What now, Real Madrid?”

Thirteen and counting

Well that was pretty bonkers.  It was always going to be an entertaining game with goals, but nobody could have quite predicted the events that would lead to Real Madrid’s 13th European Cup, their 7th since the Champions League era began in 1992.  It was also their third consecutive win, a record in the post-1992 period, and their 4th in the last 5 seasons.   For younger readers, Madrid won the first 5 European Cups consecutively between 1956 and 1960, and they will struggle to either equal or supersede that record, but their achievement in the modern era is nothing short of remarkable, especially with the quality of the opposition hanging around the competition these days.  Continue reading “Thirteen and counting”

A matter of focus

Preview of the Champions League final

A couple of days ago, a loyal twitter follower reminded me of the closing tweet in my summary thread after last season’s Champions League final in Cardiff, in which I explained how the gentleman next to me said: “See you in the next Final!” as a manner of farewell. We were simply ecstatic, and indeed overconfident. Continue reading “A matter of focus”