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Five things you may not know about the Madrid Derby

MADRID, Spain, Dec 11 – With the city of Madrid boasting two of the very best teams in Spanish and European football history, the capital city rivalry is an exciting and fascinating one. So much history… but here are five things you might not know about the fixture.

Atlético were formed in reaction to Real Madrid

A group of Basque students living in Madrid attended the first ever Copa del Rey final in 1903 between Bilbao’s Athletic Club and Madrid FC, the team that would go on to become Real Madrid. They disliked the way Madrid FC played and 18 days later created a Madrid-based subsidiary of Athletic… which would go on to become Atlético de Madrid.

Atlético once went 14 years without a derby win, but it’s a very different story now

Between 1999 and 2013, Atlético de Madrid endured derby hell. They didn’t win in 25 meetings with Real Madrid, until the arrival of Diego Simeone eventually changed their fortunes. Since then the derby balance has shifted; they’ve won eight of the 27 derbies played since then, while also drawing 11 and losing eight.

Atletico fans began the tradition of celebrating at Cibeles fountain, not Real Madrid!

During the 1970s, the tradition of celebrating titles with fellow fans of your team at certain points in the city began to emerge in Spanish football. The Cibeles fountain, located in the very centre of Madrid, emerged as an ideal meeting point for such fans and though today closely associated with Real Madrid it was actually Atleti fans to first started to hold their celebrations there, after a LaLiga title win in 1977. Over time, other fans began to copy them and it became the fan meeting point in the city for title wins; throughout the 1980s, Real Madrid fans would celebrate the victories of the iconic Quinta del Buitre generation there. By the time Atletico won another title in 1991 – the Copa del Rey – Cibeles had become so closely associated with Real Madrid that their fans decided to move their celebrations 600 metres down the city’s Paseo de la Castellana avenue to Netptune’s fountain. 

This used to be a bigger fixture than El Clasico

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Today Real Madrid’s arch-rivals are Barcelona but the Madrid derby was a bigger deal in the first couple of decades after the Spanish Civil War ended in 1939. As the all-time great Alfredo Di Stéfano once said: “Forget Barcelona… the team that can frustrate us is Atlético.”

Nine of Atlético’s Copa del Rey wins have come at the Bernabéu

Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabéu stadium is, funnily enough, a very special place for Atlético de Madrid fans. Los Colchoneros have won the Copa del Rey on 10 occasions, with a remarkable nine of those successes coming at their arch-rivals’ stadium. Of their 10 cup final successes, only the 1996 victory against Barcelona was held at a different ground: Real Zaragoza’s La Romareda.

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