Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Atletico (Madrid) won their 7th Spanish title – so far, they were the stronger challenger of Real (Madrid) since 1960. Perhaps one of the best periods for the ‘mattress makers’, perhaps they were just relatively better than most during shallow years for Spanish football, but one thing is certain – La Liga traditionally is very difficult. Real (Madrid) may had been in the dark – although Phil Ball argues the opposite in his excellent ‘White Storm. 101 Years Of Real Madrid’ – but their squad sounded more impressive than Atletico’s one, with Pirri, Velazquez, Zoco. Grosso and Amancio were still around and young Carlos Santillana was pushing into the first eleven. Atletico did not have such class, yet the last European trophy Real won was in 1966. After that even domestic title and cup were elusive and Chelsea snatched the Cup Winners Cup under the nose of the ‘white ballet’. Hardly a ballet by then. With Real down, the interesting trivia around Atletico’s title is historic: originally, they were founded as off-spring in a way of Athletic (Bilbao) – by some Basques moving to Madrid, and keeping their original affiliation alive. But what turns! Atletico became the ‘original’ Francoist club, renamed Aviacion – hardly something to keep Basques enchanted. Yet, up in Bilbao they hate Real most. Even in Madrid Atletico failed to became the arch-enemy of Real – Barcelona maintains this position. No matter what, Atletico is relegated to the third place in everything: in status, in success, even as a generator of hatred. An amusing and may be even lamentable situation – as far as Real and Barcelona are concerned Atletico’s title is not something to lose sleep about. To a point, Atletico’s successes are kind of unnoticed and rarely mentioned. Obscurity alone prevents evaluation of the team – how good they really were? Well, it was practically the same team winning in 1970. No Santillanas there, that was sure.