The night before Club Deportivo Tacón made its Primera Iberdrola debut at Stadi Johan Cruyff against the Barcelona women’s team, I watched the first NBA game of the Miami Heat’s “Big Three” (Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh) against the Boston Celtics on opening night 2010. Even though it is a different sport in another country, there are details and situational characteristics that are strikingly similar between the Heat and Tacón.
Both Clubs shared the same type of summer. In July 2010, the Miami Heat sent a seismic wave through the NBA with the signings of three superstars. Shortly after Lebron James’ ESPN special “The Decision”, the Club held a celebration inside American Airlines Arena presenting the new signings to their supporters. This drew exorbitant media scrutiny and the league’s attention as a team to beat. Going back to Tacón, this past June Real Madrid announced the proposal to acquire the five-year-old women’s soccer club to become their future women’s team. Shortly thereafter, international stars Kosovare Asllani (SWE), Sofia Jakobsson (SWE), Aurélie Kaci (FRA), Chioma Ubogagu (ENG) and Thaisa (BRA) signed with the team. Along with their new sponsor Adidas, the media scrutiny and attention from rivals went up exponentially.
The season opener was the toughest debut assignment for both teams. For the 2010 Heat, they were scheduled to play against the former NBA champion and previous season finalist, the Celtics, in Boston. It was a very difficult matchup because the Celtics, led by their own “Big Three” (Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen), had been together since 2007 while the Heat’s Big Three with an overhauled roster had yet to play together in an official game. As for Tacón, their first game after being promoted from Segunda División was on the road against the previous Iberdrola’s runners-up and UEFA Champions League Finalists Barcelona. Furthermore, Barcelona only lost twice in the league and held a clean sheet for over 540 minutes during last season’s Champions League from the round-of-16 up to the Final.
In the Celtics-Heat opener, James, Wade, and Bosh struggled; while Garnett, Pierce, and Allen flourished. The Heat were confused on offense and stagnant on defense. The Celtics were crisp in rotations and scoring at will. It was a tale of one team with familiarity and a plan while another team was freshly constructed and in search of both. The Heat eventually lost the game. In Tacón’s debut in Barcelona, the same details showed up. The midfield was virtually nonexistent in offensive creation while Barcelona executed their triangles to dictate tempo and keep possession. The Norwegian forward Caroline Hansen had a field day on the right side against left back Esther which compromised the Tacón defensive line and led to several goals. Since Tacón was unable to bring the ball up from the back, they tried imprecise aerial passes upfield. Forward Asllani was a non-factor due to Barcelona’s swarming pressure. Her first clear shot was in the 91st minute that went over the bar. It was a harsh orientation to say the least.
Despite the 2010 Heat and 2019 Tacón sharing similar summers and difficult season opening losses, their stories do not end there. That Heat team went on to play in four straight finals and win back-to-back titles in 2012 and 2013. Knowing Tacón will officially become the Real Madrid women’s team next July, can Madridistas expect the same level of success with the new women’s program in the near future? We can and should because it is what the Club is all about. All good things come to those who wait. ¡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)