After thrashing Real Zaragoza in La Romareda this past Wednesday to advance to the Copa del Rey quarterfinals, Real Madrid was back in La Liga mode on Saturday. Sitting atop the table by three points with city rivals Atlético seeking to wash away their January misfortune, the opportunity to put serious distance domestically between them and their city rivals was upon the 33-time champions. This prompted one special hub of Madridismo to gather deep in the heart of Texas and witness the first league Derby home victory in eight years!
On a brisk Saturday morning, a score of Peña Real Madrid Texas (@realmadridtexas) Members arrived at their official headquarters in a northern suburb of Dallas. The feeling was unlike that of prior Derbys due to confidence from witnessing the current 20-game unbeaten streak, which dates back to late October. The Peña’s headquarters is a restaurant called “Si Tapas”, which serves traditional and contemporary Spanish cuisine. Since kick off was set at 9:00am local time, management opened its doors over two hours early to welcome the Peña group.
Chairman David Núñez, a Spaniard who founded the Peña in 2014, was impressed with Zidane’s chess moves. “The true protagonist was without a doubt Zizou,” Nuñez said. “He knew to correct the errors, and the substitutions completely changed the game.”
Right before the second half began, Zidane tapped Vinicius Jr and Lucas Vásquez to enter the match for Toni Kroos and Isco. Since Atlético did a solid job of neutralizing the Madrid midfield in the first half, Zidane added width and speed to spread the Colchonero defensive line. Fellow member Antonio Blazquez praised Vinicius Jr’s impact, saying, “Vinicius revolutionized the game after his entrance. He invented a magical play that Mendy followed up with a magisterial pass to Karim Benzema, who was present where a center-forward needed to be.” Despite a nervous first half with Atlético pushing, Members jumped euphorically as Karim beat Jan Oblak in the 56th minute. With the final minutes approaching, Members followed Bernabéu chants they heard through their television screen almost 5,000 miles away.
Madridistas had experienced over a handful of disappointing domestic Derbys at home. This recent 1-0 victory broke a psychological barrier for Zidane’s men and created darker clouds over Diego Simeone. Real Madrid is finding comfort at home once again after the recent victories against European contenders Sevilla and Atlético. With eternal rival Barcelona set to visit in one month, Madridismo is licking their chops. The team is finishing home games better than in prior years. This should greatly concern future rivals who will enter Chamartín, especially Manchester City in three weeks. As the march towards the 34th La Liga title continues, Real Madrid’s ceiling is as blue as the sky.
PERSONAL NOTE: Right before kickoff, Real Madrid and Atlético observed a moment of silence for Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant, John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Christine Mauser, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester, and Ara Zobayan who died in a tragic helicopter crash in Calabasas, California last Sunday. As a Los Angeleno who followed & supported Kobe since the age of 12, this observance along with Madridistas holding up his Laker jersey was incredibly touching. Kobe was a legendary champion and a gentleman, which are traits Real Madrid continues to promote to the world. If you would like to find out how to support the Altobelli, Mauser, Chester, and Zobayan families, please go to MambaOnThree.org.
This article is dedicated to the memory of these nine people whose lives ended far too soon.
- Christian Paredes (@Xian_D_Paredes) is a Founding Member and former Chairman (2012-2016) of La Peña Madridista Sur de California (@RmSurCalifornia)