Real Madrid - Atlético Madrid

Real Madrid in L.A.

Real Madrid's second biggest fan club in the US will bring more than 200 people to the Petit Bernabéu to watch the derby against Atletico, despite the early start.

Two years ago the TV audience for the Clásico, Madrid-Barça, was greater than two million for the first time in the USA. Now it’s the turn of the Madrid derby: the match is closing in on the magic figure with more than 1.8 million expected to tune in for Saturday’s Real Madrid - Atlético Madrid clash.

The arrival of Simeone at Atlético has focused interest on the game - in the years before his arrival Real Madrid had had an easy time of it in the derbies. Not so with the Argentinean at the helm of Real’s more modest neighbours: they won the Liga two seasons ago, and have handed out some painful defeats to Cristiano and Co. Just don't mention the 4-0 hammering the day of Ronaldo's birthday party to any Real Madrid fans...

For this encounter between the sides in LaLiga, the kick-off time of 4pm in Spain (CET) means it's early morning stateside: 07:00 in California and 10:00 in New York, so for many of those who want to watch the encounter in company the best option is likely to be to join up with a fan club, many of which have booked bars or other venues in order to enjoy the game.

We spoke to Stewart J. Wolfenson, president of the Peña Madridista (Real Madrid fan club) of Los Angeles. The biggest event in their history was bringing together 750 people to watch the Champions League final in Lisbon, on 100 TV screens. (Just don't mention that match to any Atleti fans...) The club now has 860 members, and they’re proud of the fact that 46% of their members are women. And interestingly, only 10% of their members are Spanish.

“We’re going to enjoy this derby to the max. We’re meeting at 06:30 and we’ll have a buffet, beers, a raffle… the Liga is pretty much out of reach, bit we’re going to have a party. Let’s get stuck into them, we’re up for beating for them”, says Stewart.

This New Yorker, raised in Barcelona, uses videos and photos of the fan-club’s meetings (spectacular it has to be said) to explain the bond with Madrid, despite the fact it’s 9,000 kilometres away. “It’s as if we’d created a bridge, both real and virtual, between us and the Bernabéu. Our meeting place (Tom’s Urban L.A.) we call the Petit Bernabéu. When we’re there we have an incredible time, in fact it's often better than what happens in Madrid, there are drums, flags, songs…”

But it won't just be the Petit Bernabéu... across the whole of the US in bars, clubs and livings rooms there'll be people, in white and red and white, up early and screaming themselves hoarse in support of either Zidane's or Simeone's team. The Madrid derby... in the US.