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The Pressures Of Being A Galactico

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A short commentary on the stress of being a Real Madrid star

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Following solid and consistent performances, the crowd has begun to chant your name. You have become a club favorite, and the stadium suddenly feels small. Perhaps unknowingly, you have proved that you are a big fish in a relatively small pond. Defending with intensity, controlling the midfield, or attacking with organic flair, you have caught the eye of Spanish giants Real Madrid; by no means an easy feat. Media outlets and dailies like Marca, AS, and more all write and discuss on whether you are overrated or underrated, how you will excel with your fellow Galacticos, or crumble under the pressure before your first game on the pitch. Paparazzi, press, and social media observe your behaviour off the field and dissect it to come to any findings. These are only some of the demands that come with playing at this level, nay, the expectations that come with your hefty price tag.

There is a saying that I have coined, inspired by Marvel's 'The Amazing Spider-Man,' that goes 'with a great price tag, comes great responsibility.' Not only does this apply to players in big clubs, but at Real Madrid, you have been specifically sought out; you have been chosen. This is because you have showcased your ability to represent top-echelon quality - a brand on and off the pitch. Going back to your monetary value, just like any other costly product or service, followers will correlate that to their expectations. This act carried out by fans and pundits does not follow any doctrine, but the general rule of thumb is that your price tag equates to your perceived effect. Failure to deliver even a fraction of what was expected to be world-class means playing with the fires of Hell, as the media can play their part and initial support can quickly be set ablaze. Everything you have proved and worked for up to this point can be thrown out the window. Without introduction, this is the cold performance and results-driven atmosphere that has been created at Real Madrid.

Los Blancos are an institution that prides themselves in not only winning football, but entertaining football as well. If you are in any way deemed pragmatic or one-dimensional, be mentally prepared to be the subject of heated and passionate debates. Whether this means being broken down and assessed by pundits on a talk show, or trolls on the internet, be psychologically fortified to endure harsh criticisms.

Mind you, this is all possible with just a transfer rumor. Ha, wait until you are actually signed, then it's game on. A timer kicks off and there is an un-written rule that you must hit the ground running despite the fact you may be forced to play in a system with players that may not suit you. This occurrence is not uncommon as Real Madrid's model (does not deserve to be called a philosophy) is set up for brand globalization and recognition - not to build a dynasty. Is it not a fair assumption to think that domestic and European success as a result of a philosophy or playing style will bring club awareness on its own?

Barcelona's domination in the past years has now made things even more intense. If the rivalry did not need more fuel, with Barcelona as a representation of a bigger cause, it's important to also be aware that professional pride is on the line. Losing out in matches or on silverware to the Blaugrana could mean a re-vamp of sorts, resulting in a change of personnel within the players and staff.

Enter Atletico Madrid, or Los Rojiblancos as they are also known. Their rise to power has now put another rival in the way of your title-winning aspirations. Losing out to Atleti represents you being belittled in your own hometown, and will force the board to do some introspection due to their lavish spending.

Being a Real Madrid player, much more a Galactico, is indeed no easy task. Madrid fans will love you if you ooze passion and show commitment and/or personal pride to the crested badge. But as soon as performances are seen as sub-par, or not worth the cash that was splashed, make sure you have all the self-talk and coping techniques cocked and loaded to withstand the murmuring of the common viewer and experts alike.