SportsCrazy first night of stage fright rookies

Crazy first night of stage fright rookies



The night of Real Madrid’s comeback against PSG, Rodrygo Goes left the Bernabéu leaning through the roof of a car, singing what the fans who were still on the sidewalks were singing. In that car he went to dinner with family and some friends, and they continued talking about the game, unable to find another topic. Later, at home, still with family and friends, they continued squeezing the comeback. Rodrygo did not want to go to sleep. None wanted. So they reviewed plays until seven in the morning, and only then did they go to bed. When they woke up, they continued to talk about the game, and they continued to do so daily for more than a week, as tonight’s classic approached. That comeback had had the effect of a revelation for a Brazilian boy who barely knew those crazy nights in Chamartín by hearsay.

He wasn’t the only one. At the end of the game, Madrid also had Vinicius, Militão and Camavinga on the field, all newcomers as part of the renewal operation based on talents caught before their great emergence. “That night those guys were really in a bubble,” says a source from the club, which includes a not-so-young rookie, Alaba, 29, in the ecstatic group.

The Austrian composed the iconic image of that kind of cultural baptism of the next generation. After the 3-1 draw, when the Madrid players rushed to the sideline to celebrate Benzema’s goal, Alaba grabbed a folding chair and raised it over his head, like when the monkey Rafiki presents Simba as heir in The Lion King. “I didn’t think much of it. It was the emotion. With such a spectacular comeback, you can go crazy, ”he explained in an interview in his country. “I knew from my previous visits to the Bernabéu that it is a stadium that can develop a power of its own. That’s how it was against PSG.”

Jorge Valdano had that impression many years ago, who was at Madrid in the amazing comebacks of the 80s in UEFA, when, for example, they lifted a 5-1 that Borussia Mönchengladbach had endorsed them in the first leg in Germany: “When that becomes customary, you think the stadium has properties. And it is convenient that this spreads”, he says. “Let the enemies believe it. That is important”.

At that time, as the former soccer player recalls, it seems that everyone believed it: “We played in front of 120,000 people, because at that time there were several thousand who sneaked into the stadium. They were going to see us in qualifiers in which we had lost by four or five goals against German teams, which at that time almost ate children raw. And people went with an insane confidence that this could happen. And after 10 minutes the Germans even regretted being footballers. We didn’t even play well in those games, but it was an avalanche,” he recalls.

Vinicius never lacks faith, but he has lacked the public. According to sources close to the footballer, since the pandemic, which took them away from people just after a classic at the Bernabéu in which he scored 1-0, he often remembers how bad it was to play without people. Above all, he regretted that what he considered his best night, last year’s Champions League quarter-final first leg against Liverpool, happened in an empty Alfredo di Stéfano. He scored two goals, but he lacked the stands to celebrate, and that frustrated him. He thought that he was missing a night like this at the Bernabéu, one in which, people say about him, fully feel that they were the kings of Europe.

That happened against PSG, a match that for him contained several clashes. Himself against Neymar, whom he has always regarded as his great idol, and with whom he is measured in Brazil. And also in the cultural clash that he perceived between PSG and its unlimited money from Qatar, and Madrid, in which he appreciates the weight of history and tradition.

That also seduced Valdano when he entered the white dressing room: “There was a direct transmission of values. You had to win, there was no other obligation. And not winning was embarrassing,” he says. “The players are a chain of transmission of those values. They have been Juanito, Camacho, Raúl…”.

When the match against PSG ended and the players finished celebrating with the stands, a camera followed Luka Modric, 36, on his way to the locker room. The Croatian stopped with his companions, in a kind of ceremony in which he had a gesture for each one, for when he is no longer there. “Fucking mother,” he told Vini, after hugging Camavinga. “Very well”, to Militão, after hugging Alaba. And also a “fucking mother” to Rodrygo, to whom he added: “Like always. Always!”.

A week and a half later, when the draw tied Madrid with Chelsea in the quarterfinals, Rodrygo posted on Twitter a video taken from the stands of the Bernabéu of the players celebrating the 3-1 win over PSG. The founding comeback of his generation brandished as an exorcism against the English.

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