The first Liga Derbi Madrileño did not bring any goals on the field but plenty of emotions off of it. 64 days after the 7 - 3 preseason loss to Atlético in New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium, Real Madrid wanted to set the record straight that the July debacle was an anomaly. After back-to-back clean sheet wins against Sevilla and Osasuna, Atlético was not going to face the same opponent from the summer. This silver point against a direct Liga and Champions League rival in their stadium serves as a confidence booster for not only the team, but also American Madridismo — especially those in the capital of the Midwest.
On a humid and overcast afternoon in Chicago, Madridistas flocked to the headquarters of Peña Madridista Windy City (@Madridista_CHI) at A.J. Hudson’s Public House on the North Side. For the past six years, it has and continues to be the hub to support Real Madrid in all games and other Peña activities. Each of the four most recent Champions League Final wins were celebrated there. As the first half progressed, each Member was on the edge of their seat. With every missed opportunity, groans filled the air, while an interception and completed forward pass was applauded. Everyone was dialled in, hoping for goals by the men in white.
As the second half wound down, Madridistas sensed the game was to be taken. Atlético retreated to their usual defensive posture and renounced from their press. The entries of Luka Modric and James Rodriguez were supposed to add creativity to break the tie but did not. In the end, both teams left unharmed and reserved to settle the Madrid battle next February. Shortly after the tie, the Peña recognized a solid week of results and hard work by certain starters. Chairman Alex Ruiz brought up Uruguayan midfielder Federico Valverde: “He is a young player that recently started his professional career, but he has shown his abilities and above all his character in controlling a game of this caliber.”
Vice Chairman Alberto Saberbein pointed out the team’s progress this season, “The group is responding to the system that the Mister (Zidane) wants to play. There is a future!”
One player that left quite a bit to be desired was Eden Hazard. In his first three starts, he has yet to find the net. Despite this and recovering from his preseason injury, he contributed in other ways, such as making an effort in recovering possession. While it is still very early in the season, Madridistas are waiting for Hazard to shine. Member Alex Pulido summed it up best by saying: “I’m hopeful Hazard will be at 100% and show some of the magic he produced in the Premier League last season.” The next best opportunity for Hazard is against Belgian League runners-up Club Brugge in the Champions League home opener on Tuesday night. Bottom line: Zidane and the players reacted very well after the Paris disaster, but there is more on which to improve. ¡Hala Madrid y nada más!
Christian Paredes (@Xian_D_Paredes) is a Founding Member and former Chairman (2012-2016) of La Peña Madridista Sur de California (@RmSurCalifornia)