By Carolyn Fishman
May 24, 2014. Four American college students packed into a bar in Puerta del Sol. Students who thought they understood what being “passionate” about sports meant – largely due to their status as Cameron Crazies, because Duke Basketball Never Stops.
Randomly chosen because of its location, they wandered in unassuming, not knowing who to cheer for, just wanting to take part in the fun. All day, the only thing anybody had been wearing was their team’s gear: the clean-cut, white, Adidas “Fly Emirates” of Real Madrid, or the red and white striped, collared, Nike “Azerbaijan Land of Fire” of Atlético Madrid. Upon entering, the only place to stand was directly under the televisions. Cramped, they piled in on top of each other, doing anything to see the game, entranced by the Stadium of Light, sucked into being Real Madrid fans for the evening so as not to be shot by those surrounding them…
For 92 minutes the people in the bar stressed and cursed. The refs, the stars of Atlético Madrid, their own players, nobody could do anything right. Time and again they saw Garreth Bale deny himself as he missed wide. They saw Atlético Madrid’s inability to handle the speed of Ángel Di María and watched as he drew three yellow cards on various defenders. They saw Gabi slice through their team; it was as if he had a pair of legs to guard each of Real Madrid’s players. They saw Atlético Madrid players “cramp” and get “injured” in the last ten minutes of regulation, and their frustration was tangible. And they felt the knife stab through their hearts in the 36th minute as Diego Godín flicked the ball off his head and over the head of Casillas who had stepped up too far too late.
And then the 93rd minute. A corner kick, the second one in a matter of 28 seconds. The first one was a short corner that led to no reward except to set up another corner. And this time, Luka Modric delivered. The perfect cross. Everybody active, and then it was as if everybody was frozen. The ball soared through the air, and number 4 seemed to be the only person not affected by whatever had stilled the rest of the pitch. He sprinted from far post to near post, colliding with the ball in the middle. With a flick of his head he redirected the ball at the back post he had been fleeing from. Curtois dove, the ball floating past his outstretched finger tips. And then time unfroze. The sound was tumultuous.
The fans of Real Madrid, whether in Lisbon at the game, in the small bar in Puerta del Sol, outside of the Bernabéu, or really anywhere in the world, must have screamed so loudly that it shook the earth. The momentum was with them. The American students jumped for joy as their new friends sobbed tears of joy. Overtime.
UCL 2014 FINAL – Real Madrid Vs Atletico Madrid. By Razvan Lupescu. Dailymotion.
N.p., 5 Mar. 2015. Web. 16 Feb. 2016.
For anybody interested, I’ve also posted the reaction of those I was with in the bar when the game-tying goal was scored. I promise it lasted longer than 23 seconds in real life.