Picking My Madrid Team

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Madrid – Soon to be my new home city

I’m the kind of person who just enjoys watching football, it doesn’t really matter who’s playing. But things are always a bit better when you have an attachment to one of the teams, some kind of emotional involvement beyond simply appreciating the game.

As anyone who has been following my 2018/19 in pictures series will know, my number one team is Coleraine and I really appreciate the fact I’ve been able to see so many games while I’ve been at home for the summer.

In Spain, of course, things are different. My involvement with Coleraine becomes limited to WhatsApp group conversations, constantly refreshing Twitter on Saturday afternoons and waiting for the BBC NI highlights to be uploaded in the evening. So when I first moved here in Autumn 2013, I sought to find a replacement of sorts, a local team I could call my own.

In Galicia, that was fairly obvious. Deportivo La Coruña was just a short train ride away. With their fantastic history, their wonderful stadium right at the sea front and their blue and white striped shirts, I was happy to claim them as my team.

When I moved to Huelva in January 2016, it was an even easier choice. Recreativo is the oldest club in Spain, a number of my new co-workers were already regulars, they played in blue and white striped shirts and here’s the clincher, I could even see the ground from my bedroom window. Eventually I even became a season ticket holder there, the first time I had done so somewhere other than the Coleraine Showgrounds.

So now as I prepare to move to Madrid at the start of next month, I find myself looking for a new team I can go to regularly. There’s a lot more choice than I’ve ever been presented with before, so I’ve gone through a few of the leading contenders and worked out the pros and cons of each.

Real Madrid

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Pros

– Biggest and most successful team in the country.

– An array of World-Class stars and exciting young players.

– An excellent stadium, which is easy to get to.

Cons

– Biggest and most successful team in the country.

– Extremely expectant (some might say entitled) fanbase.

– I really don’t like them all that much.

Yeah, I don’t think I’ll be adopting Real Madrid as my team. There are enough people who support them without me jumping on that bandwagon as well. That’s not to say I won’t take in a couple of games at the Santiago Bernabeu this coming season. It is easily one of the best stadiums in the country and on one of my previous visits I got to see the home fans turn on the players while they won a game.

Atletico Madrid

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Pros

– Traditional underdogs who have turned into a viable challenger to the Barça/Madrid duopoly.

– Play in a brand-new, state-of-the-art stadium (called Wanda).

– I really enjoyed my two visits to the old Estadio Vicente Calderon.

– World-class players.

– Cool kit (When I was at university I played for a team who based their kit on Atletico’s colours)

Cons

– Maybe they’ve got a bit too good to still be counted as an underdog?

– For all their great players, they’re not always the easiest team to watch.

I’ll not lie, I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for Atletí and out of the three likely title challengers at the minute, I’d probably want them to win the league. Just not sure if I should make them my week-in week-out team or not.

Rayo Vallecano

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Pros

– Great working class ethos, a true people’s club.

– Brilliant atmosphere at the ground, which is easy to get to.

– I’ve been three times before and Rayo have never lost.

– Play The Final Countdown after they score.

Cons

– I’m no expert on it, but their ownership situation seems pretty terrible. The fans deserve better.

– Probably in for a long, hard season of struggling against relegation.

– Will almost certainly end up playing lots of games on Friday and Monday nights

– Maybe they’re too much of a stereotypical hipster choice?

I like Rayo and my previous trips to Vallecas have been good fun. It’s definitely somewhere I’ll be heading on a regular basis. I mean, come on, THE FINAL COUNTDOWN.

Leganés

Pros

– Play in Blue and White stripes.

– The club obviously has a sense of humour (Check out their “Golden Cucumber” pre-season trophy)

– Their lomo bocatas come highly recommended by The Spanish Football Podcast.

Cons

– It’s pretty far out from the city centre (Zone B1 on the Metro)

– Likely to spend this season battling relegation.

– Another team likely to end up playing a lot of games on Friday and Monday nights.

I definitely want to go to Leganes for the first time this season. It’s definitely some achievement for them to not automatically be among everyone’s favourites for relegation at the start of the season, considering the size of the club and the departure of talismanic boss Asier Garitano. Plus, I really need to try one of those lomo sandwiches!

I wrote this before I became aware of their mascot Super Pepino. The competition may be over before it has properly started…

Getafe

Pros

– Erm, someone needs to support them. Their small attendances are infamous, to the extent that a few years ago the club released a promotional video for an app encouraging season ticket holders to hook up and make more Getafe fans. (This can also be filed under the club having a good sense of humour.)

– They made one of the most intriguing signings of the summer, taking Segunda top scorer Jaime Mata (Jamie Kills) from Valladolid and it will be interesting to see how he adapts to the Primera.

– They once had a shirt with a picture of the Burger King on it.

Cons

– Regularly one of the dirtiest teams in La Liga, the football isn’t going to be a great watch.

– Also are likely to end up playing a lot on Friday and Monday nights.

– Also quite far out from the city centre and Getafe is not rated as one of the nicest areas of Madrid to visit.

I’m sure I will go to Getafe at least once. But definitely during the daytime. All about the experience.

Rayo Majadahonda

Pros

– Tiny club from the outskirts of the city who shocked everyone by winning a first ever promotion to the Segunda.

– Because their stadium isn’t up to Segunda standard, they will be playing the first half of the season at Atletico’s Wanda Metropolitano. So getting tickets shouldn’t be a problem.

Cons

– They’re playing half their home fixtures at the Wanda. This could be a hindrance to them as they try to settle at a higher level. Atmosphere might also be a problem. My trip to Sevilla Atletico v Real Oviedo in a three quarters empty Sánchez- Pizjuan was an eerie experience.

– I know next to nothing about them.

– I’d constantly end up mispronouncing their name (and I couldn’t even use Rayo as a fall back option).

I know I’ll end up going to some of their games at the Wanda, especially if tickets are reasonably- priced.

Alcorcón

Pros

– Once beat Real Madrid 4-0 in the Copa del Rey

– I’ve seen them play before (although on that occasion they lost 2-0 to Rayo)

Cons

– Again, I barely know anything about them.

They’re probably worth a visit at least once, especially as the ground doesn’t look that difficult to get to, compared to some of the other teams from the satellite towns. Plus they’ll have some interesting big name opponents in the Segunda.

Fuenlabrada

Pros

– I’ve been there before.

– Segunda B kick- off times are usually more consistent than in the top two divisions.

– Brilliant/terrifying giant chicken mascot.

Cons

– One of the furthest grounds from the city centre. It’s in Metro Zone B2.

– They drew 0-0 when I went there last season and generally scored very few goals towards the end of the season.

I will go back there, with a few objectives: Buy an actual Fuenlabrada scarf (not a half and half Real Madrid one, which is all they had in stock in March) to add to my collection and get a photo with Barry the Chicken.

Well, those are my thoughts. Obviously there are loads more teams in Madrid that I’ve missed out. Are any of them worth checking out and potentially adopting?

Let me know in the comments or on Twitter.

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