Perhaps the Champions League final is a battle for the soul of Madrid (or perhaps that’s melodramatic)

Later today will be the first time two club teams from the same city meet for the Champions League title — Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid. Some American bars will no doubt be packed, although in reality no one knows what’s going on, and a casual fan’s strongest connection to this game is Cristiano Ronaldo, who maybe once had sex for a while with Kim Kardashian, who’s getting married this weekend in Europe in an event most Americans probably understand better than the soccer event. OK, got all that? Now here’s what you need to know — just like many American sports rivalries (such as The Apple Cup) are essentially deep metaphors for the socio-economic conditions of two nearby areas, so too is Real vs. Atletico. It’s not the same as Real vs. Barcelona — again, a casual fan would know this as “Ronaldo vs. Messi” — but it’s something. Example:

Fernando Castán, a sports journalist who wrote a book about Atlético, said that “even if it’s a bit of a cliché, Madrid is about power and money, while Atlético is for more humble and marginal people.”

Got it. Makes sense, since Ronaldo seems like a fairly extravagant dude.

There’s also going to be crazy traffic between Madrid and Lisbon (where the game is being played); then there’s this, as well:

Car sharing websites across Spain have been flooded with ads like that of Francisco, who was offering a €50 ride to Lisbon leaving Madrid at 3am on Saturday morning. “I don’t have accommodation in Lisbon, so my idea is to leave on Saturday in the first hours of the morning, as early as possible. And then return right after the match.” As a quick last line, he adds: “I’m going to see Atleti. So don’t reply if you’re a close-minded Real Madrid fan because I’m hoping for a calm journey.”

You’d probably argue the most passionate thing in American sports is the NFL, and you’d probably be right. But even at an NFL tailgate, the fan bases can often seem corporate or detached — and while I’ve never been to a major European soccer match, I get the sense it wouldn’t feel that way. Is that because America is more superficial and Europe is more passionate? Perhaps.

If you want to get super hyped about this match, watch this:



Ted Bauer