As we all know, with sports, comes RIVALRIES!

I found this on twitter. It's a great representation beside  the fact that the fountains are above the wrong teams.
I found this on twitter. It’s a great representation beside the fact that the fountains are above the wrong teams.


We all know the Cubs/Sox and of course, Bears/Packers. Maybe you have even heard of the Real Madrid/FC Barcelona rivalry if you keep up with soccer. However, I am almost positive you haven’t heard of the Atletico de Madrid/Real Madrid rivalry. This one is pretty comparable to the Cubs/Sox…good versus bad as some may say, you choose who is good and who is bad.

As a study abroad student in fall 2010, the very first hotel we stayed at was the NH Paseo del Prado, right across from the Prado museum and the Neptuno fountain. Now, this was the first time I had ever stepped foot in Spain and the only thing I knew about Spain before I got to Spain was, well, nothing. I vaguely remember being in the bus and seeing a big beautiful fountain and having everyone take pictures of it and having no idea what it was even called or that it had any special significance. The next day, we went to the Prado Museum and then we left Madrid for Toledo and last stop, Granada, where I studied abroad. While in Madrid, we didn’t even walk down Gran Via or make it to Sol (that I remember). I just remember staying in the Plaza of Neptuno (that isn’t the plazas official name), and admiring the huge fountain from afar. Looking back, as memories of Madrid, I have the Prado museum and a nameless fountain. While studying abroad I learned a little about soccer (fútbol), too. I learned that Madrid has a football team called, Real Madrid and Barcelona has FC Barcelona, nothing more than that. Four years later, I live in Madrid and I realize, sadly, how much I truly DIDN’T know about Spain and specifically about Madrid when I was a study abroad student. Every day I am learning new things about Spain and Madrid, and I love it even more and more!

Now, let’s get back to our rivalries. First of all, Madrid has many, many soccer teams. Who knew? Apparently everyone. However, the two biggest are Real Madrid and Atlético de Madrid. As we all know, I am not exactly a die hard sports fan. However, I do like tailgating (which doesn’t exist in Spain), hanging with friends and cheering along when everyone else starts to cheer. So, what does that mean for me when people start talking bringing up sports teams that I never knew existed? It means that it’s time for me to learn about sports and the culture that surrounds the sport. In Spain, this important sport is soccer. If you are coming to live in Madrid or Spain for that matter, you should probably learn your basics. I will teach you the basics of Madrid soccer. In Madrid, the main teams are Real Madrid and Atlético de Madrid. For those of you living in the states, you probably have only heard of Real Madrid because it is the most popular team and yeah, they do win a lot more (Sorry Adri, it’s true, it’s probably even a statistic).

Bernabeu and Calderon. Cibeles and Neptuno. Madridista and Colchonero. Hala Madrid and Aúpa Atleti. Madrid and Atleti. The Derby.

What do all of these things mean? These are what represents each team. In reference to Chicago sports, these things would be comparable to the Madhouse on Madison, Wrigley Field, Soldier Field, The Cubbies, The Hawks, Go Cubs Go, Let’s go Hawks or Bear down. Recently the European Soccer Championship took place, for the first time in history it was two teams from one city competing for the title of Champions, Real Madrid and Atlético de Madrid. This big rivalry is called, “The derby”. In the end, Real Madrid won, taking their tenth championship title. The “we are the champions” song played on the TV for the next week following the big win! Now, let’s talk about our teams.

Ciebeles vs. Neptuno
Cibeles vs. Neptuno (from Twitter)

Atlético de Madrid

Nickname for team: Atleti
Nickname for fans: Colchoneros, rojiblancos, or indios. 
Stadium: Estadio Vicente Calderon.
Catch phrase: Aúpa Atleti
Place of Celebration: Fuente de Neptuno

Atleti are the underdogs, they are like our dear Chicago Cubbies. However, unlike the Cubbies, Atleti actually does win things! The tickets to the games during the season for Atleti aren’t very expensive (depending on the game). Anyways, when Atleti wins they get to celebrate at Neptuno, the fountain, which is in the city center near the Prado Museum. What do they do there? Sing songs about their team, chant “aúpa atleti”, drink calimocho or beer and party until the wee hours of the morning. This happens after games but it is most important after a big victory. When Atleti won La Liga this year, everyone went that night to Neptuno and then the next day everyone went back to Neptuno because the team came. Everyone went crazy and there was more people packed into one plaza than you could ever imagine. If you are ever in Madrid on the day of a big win, make sure you go to the fountain, you won’t regret it!

Photo by Ana
Photo by Estibaliz
Gabi, the captain of Atleti after winning La Liga against Barcelona in May 2014 from 20 Minutes

Real Madrid

Nickname for team: Madrid
Nickname for fans: Madridistas, merengues, or vikingos 
Stadium: Estadio Santiago Bernabeu
Catch phrase: Hala Madrid
Place of Celebration: Fuente de Cibeles

This team is the popular team among people in the States along with Barcelona. It’s the most advertised of all the Spanish soccer teams. Typically tickets for the games are very expensive. When Madrid wins, all of the Madridistas go to Cibeles, which is located at metro Banco de Espana and they, like atleti, party until the wee hours of the morning. Recently, when they won the championship league, the fans partied at cibeles until the time the team made it to madrid from Lisboa at 6:30 in the morning!

My friend Pilar celebrated her birthday watching Madrid win the Champions League and earning a 10th title!
My friend Pilar celebrated her birthday watching Madrid win the Champions League and earning a 10th title!
Plaza de Ciebeles where Real Madrid celebrates (Background, the post office of spain)
Plaza de Ciebeles where Real Madrid celebrates (Background, the post office of spain)

Each fountain is there through the wins and the losses for the fans, along with the police who surround the fountains! I was told that the fans (a few years ago) used to storm the fountains after the victory of their team. It’s only in the recent years that there are so many police (and now even barricades) to block entrance to the fountain because one year, someone took a hand (I believe) from the fountain of Cibeles, it was later returned. Since that incident, no one is allowed in either of the fountains. They say that they don’t want damage done to the historical monuments, alright, understandable, I guess.

Each fountain represents their teams unity and team spirit and the spirit of Madrid. Although the Madrileños wouldn’t admit it, no matter which team they are cheering for, they are always celebrating one victory, Madrid. The heart of Spain and each of their teams in their hearts.


Aúpa Atleti

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