|Real Madrid - In Spanish, "Real" means Royal|
I knew they had a home match that night - but it was not a first division league match. It was an early round match in the Copa del Rey (King’s Cup) against a small team from Barcelona called Cornella from Division 2B. Real Madrid had won the first leg 4-1 so it sounded like it would be a one-sided contest and not worth attending. But now that I knew what the tour cost, I got to thinking...
Tickets for the match started at $12.50 so why not go to the match AND see the stadium. Another factor that encouraged me to change plans was a story I had seen about Real Madrid having removed the "Christian cross" from their logo in order to accommodate a credit card sponsorship deal with the National Bank of Abu Dhabi. (More about that later). So... I decided to skip the tour and go to the match. Yea!
We had mastered the metro system and the stadium is just a few Metro stops from the center of Madrid where we were staying. In fact, when you pop out of the Metro station the huge building looms right in front of you. It was very impressive at night!
|Estadio Santiago Bernabéu - Capacity 81,000|
- They have 75 million likes on Facebook
- 32 League Titles
- 19 Copas del Rey Titles
- Never been relegated in 112 years
- Annual Revenues are highest in the football world - $800M
- Highest value of any team in the world - $3.4B, (Dallas Cowboys valued at $3B)
- Named by FIFA as the "Club of the 20th Century" in 2000
- Enough star players to fill-up a soccer galaxy of their own
Dumfounded I started circling the stadium going from one entrance to another thinking it must be a mistake. Surely the game could not be a sell-out. They must be selling tickets somewhere. I even tried the VIP entrance and the "Honors" Entrance.
|Sorry - No tickets here either|
|I thought they were giving me a friendly wave. I quickly learned, no photos allowed of stadium security.|
|I decided to take the plunge - Here is my scalped ticket|
|My seat was 5 rows from the top but awesome view!|
The match got underway and my suspicions about a one-sided match were confirmed pretty early on. RM was in complete control of the match until the 14th minute when Cornella somehow managed to get the ball into scoring position in the penalty box and the referee awarded them a penalty kick. Well, the Cornella player must have been a nervous wreck because somehow he managed to miss the entire goal and put the ball into the stands. Oops.
From then on it was all RM with unanswered goals in the 16th, 32nd, 33rd, 60th and 77th minute to take a 5-0 win to the locker room and advance to the Round of 16 in the Copa del Rey. Two of the goals came off the foot of Columbia's 23 year-old superstar James Rodriguez who you'll remember won the Golden Boot at the 2014 World Cup. He led all scorers in Brazil with 6 goals. So even thought I did not get to see Ronaldo play, it was cool to see James stick in two for the home team.
|Columbia's James Rodriguez scored twice|
Before I go, here is the Reader's Digest version of the credit card dust-up, and my question is did they "Sell Out?" As the story goes on the Internet, RM entered into an agreement with the National Bank of Abu Dhabi. The Bank gets to issue a RM debit card in exchange for $3M. Apparently, the Bank requested the Christian cross on the top of the RM logo be removed in order to accommodate Muslim sensitivities . The club agreed (see photo below). The cross is an integral part of the logo since it sits atop the crown of the Spanish King. Remember that "real" means royal.
|The original on the left - modified version on the right|
Until Next time...