By far the biggest stand-out fixture in Spain’s football calendar – and arguably one of the world’s most anticipated games – is the annual showdown between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, or El Clasico as it’s also known.
Last month’s clash at Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu stadium certainly did not disappoint, packed with a hat-trick from unstoppable Argentinian dynamo Lionel Messi, no fewer than three penalties and a red card for Barcelona’s Dani Alves, for upending a slightly subdued Christiano Ronaldo. The game wrapped up with a 4-3 victory for Barca, keeping the club’s 2014 title dreams alive and kicking.
Crowning Messi’s achievement was the fact that these goals make him the second highest scorer in La Liga’s history, putting him a mere 16 goals behind Telmo Zarra, the legendary Basque player who notched up 38 goals for Athletic Bilbao in the 1950-51 season.
The second round is coming up on April 16th and tickets for the game cost a euro or two as you might expect, not to mention the fact that it’s actually held in Valencia this year. However, you could still soak up some of the fever pitch atmosphere for this epic grudge match by donning your best knotted hanky and heading to one of the cities in question to live out the highs and lows with the fans themselves.
Sports Bars in Barcelona
If you want to go where the diehard Barca fans go (‘Los Cules’ or ‘the bums’, as their charming moniker has it) then make tracks for La Taverna de Barcelona, near Plaça Catalunya. Split across two floors, this place is decked out in wall-to-wall team colours, with five 40 inch screens and a fine selection of tapas and Spanish beers. Team sing-a-longs are a regular fixture here too!
For a less partisan, more international vibe, check out the simply-named Sports Bar on Rambla dels Caputxins. This airy place has a pair of giant screens with commentary in English and Spanish and offers cheap n’ cheerful pub grub, plus pool tables, darts and x-box to kick back with after the day’s match drama has fully unfolded.
Sports Bars in Madrid
In Madrid, try one of the Irish bars for size. The city’s largest, The Irish Rover on Avenida del Brasil just a short stagger from the Bernabeu Stadium, has a sizeable outdoor terraza, guest beers and stays open well into the wee small hours. This place even has its own flea market in the courtyard, the hospitality you’d come to expect and traditional live music most evenings.
Some bars even offer a few competitive incentives. At The Marca Sports Cafe on Paseo de Recoletos if you correctly guess the outcome of the game when ordering your first round they’ll give you the second one on the house. The bar has plenty of TVs and English-speaking staff, but be prepared to dig in early as it tends to pack out on big match days.
Polished your boots and packed your magic sponge? Check out some of our best package holidays to Spain.