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Some empires were so great once, even their ruins look poetic. LaLiga is once such an empire. Football is inseparable from the Spanish culture and people’s hearts. Years of work and determination has led to the origin of legends. The national football team of Spain gained undeniable success in the past decade through Laliga.
There is not much of a difference in the format of Laliga compared to other European Leagues. But, the rivalries are deep-rooted like nowhere, both politically and statistically. Barcelona represent Catalonian identity and its followers have been and are liberals. The metropolitans from Madrid, Real Madrid stand for Spanish nationalism and support conservatism. Before the Spanish Civil War, there was not much bad blood between the two clubs, they even were sort of allies.
However, nothing good stays for long. War shook the very core of Spain and the two clubs went their separate ways. Former military officials were involved in the post-war games one way or the other. That made the El Classico exclusive.
For many years, Barcelona dominated European and domestic football. In the dawn of the millenia, Florentino Perez, the president of Real Madrid, announced the arrival of world-class talents to the club. This included Luis Figo, a former player of their nemesis Barcelona. All in one bag, the Galacticos, as they were called, brought huge attention. Even people who didn’t regularly watch football wanted to wear Raul and Zidane’s jerseys. Controversies and financial doom ended the Galacticos era.
Barcelona were sharpening their own weapon in the mid-years. La Masia. The football acadsemy of Barcelona nourished young talents from Spain and especially, Catalonia. Xavi, Iniesta, Guardiola and Busquets are natives who showed respect and loyalty to the club while winning trophies. A genius was in the making, meanwhile, a diminutive forward from Argentina was cherished and treated for his condition. In time, Lionel Messi was unveiled to the whole world and was recognized by Ronaldinho. A decade and a half later, the Brazilian’s words come true.
The Vikings had their heroes too, David Beckham, Zidane, Ronaldo and Raul travelled with them during the Galacticos era. But on-field success and the repetitive Champions League trophies which Madrid are known for came later. Lethal goal scoring from Cristiano Ronaldo, Sergio Ramos’ physical presence, Luka Modric’s new age playmaking, Casemiro and Varane’s midfield coordination along with Karim Benzema’s keen assists created a dream team.
Laliga’s history doesn’t end with these two clubs but it starts there. Athletic Bilbao, Atletico Madrid, Sevilla and Valencia have their own stories, interwoven with emotions and zeal. The wheel has twenty spokes and it will keep turning.