The Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid will be hosting the 2010 Champions League final but the most famous club in the World will not be there.
Santiago Bernabeu, venue for the 2010 Champions League Final and home to Real Madrid.
Real Madrid, with a record 31 La Liga titles, 17 Copa del Rays, 9 European Cups and 2 UEFA Cups to their credit, are the most successful club in European football but defeat to Lyon in the last 16 of the Champions League in March means they will not have the opportunity to lift the biggest prize of all in their own back yard this year.
Formed in 1902 Real were founder members of La Liga in 1928 and soon became the leading club in the country. They made history by becoming the first winners of the European Cup in 1956 and they were unbeaten in that competition until 1961.
Hungarian Ferenc Puskas, the original Galactico!
Football greats from the past such as Alfredo Di Stefano and Ferenc Puskas have worn the famous white shirt while modern day superstars like Zidane, Luis Figo, Raul, Hugo Sanchez, David Beckham, along with Brazilians Kaka and Ronaldo have all played for the club. In fact a list of the most famous players in World football will inevitably contain many who have played for Real over the years.
Cristiano Ronaldo, the latest Galactico to play for Real Madrid.
Although one of four clubs in Madrid, Real’s biggest rivals are a club from outside of that city…Barcelona. The two have battled it out for supremacy in La Liga for many years and whenever they meet it is one of the biggest games in European football. Although not technically a local derby there is no doubt how much these games mean to the fans and players of both sides and the result usually goes along way to deciding the outcome of the La Liga title.
Real v Barcelona, possibly the biggest game in European football.
The second biggest club in Madrid are Athletico, who play at the Vicente Calderon Stadium. Originally formed in 1903 as part of the Athletic Bilboa club they severed ties with them in 1939 and have gone on to become the third most successful team in Spain behind the aforementioned Barcelona and Real.
The Vicente Calderon Stadium, home to Athletico Madrid.
They have won La Liga nine times, the Copa Del Ray nine times and completed the double in 1996. They also won the European Cup Winners Cup in 1962 and were runners up in the European Cup in 1974.
The clubs golden era was in the 1960’s and 70’s where they won La Liga four times and were runners up on a further three occasions between 1961 and 1977. Their run to the 1974 European Cup final included a win over Celtic in the semi final and they were seconds away from beating Bayern Munich in the final only for the Germans to equalise in the last minute of extra time before then winning the replay 4-0.
The club were relegated from La Liga in 2000 but they bounced back two years later and have now re-established themselves as a top four club and are back competing in European competition again.
Famous ex players include Mexican Hugo Sanchez, Italian Christian Vieri, Argentinian Diego Simone, Brazilian Juninho and it is of course where Fernando Torres began his career.
Fernando Torres at Athletico.
Ironically the club are currently battling against Torres’ new employers Liverpool in the semi final of the Europa League with the help of two players who will be well known to fans of the Premier League, Diego Forlan once of Manchester United and ex-Arsenal winger Jose Antonio Reyes.
Not many people are aware that Getafe CF are based in the Metropolitan area of Madrid and from humble beginnings they are now a well established La Liga side.
The Coliseum Alfonso Perez, home to Getafe CF.
Only formed in 1983 Getafe have enjoyed a remarkable rise up through the leagues. Playing at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez just outside of Madrid, they started out in the regional leagues but quickly rose through the pyramid and were finally promoted to La Liga in 2005, just 21 years after they were formed. They then completed their elevation to the top table of European football by qualifying for the UEFA Cup in 2007 where they reached the quarter finals.
The fourth club from Madrid are Rayo Vallecano who play in the Estadio Teresa Rivero in the Vallecas region of the City.
Inside the Estadio Teresa Rivero, home of Rayo Vallecano.
They have been one of the perennial yo-yo clubs of Spanish football and spent many years in the 1980’s and 90’s moving between La Liga and Segunda Division. The club enjoyed its most successful period at the turn of the 21st century where they reached the quarter finals of the UEFA Cup in 2001.
However they have since fallen on hard times and suffered successive relegations in 2002 and 2003 and while they have now returned to Segunda Divison they are yet to get themselves back in the top flight.
So while Madrid conjures up images of the Bernabeu and the Galacticos it is worth remembering that there is more to this footballing City then just Real…