It all began with Stade de Reims
Real Madrid today pay tribute to the best of its history, with a trophy that bears the name of Santiago Bernabéu and with a rival that was in the first final of their eleven European Cups won. That final was, as you know, against Stade de Reims in 1956, in Paris. The Remois side was then the cream of European football, but arrives here today a much lesser force. After the demise of that team of Kopa, Fontaine, Piantoni, Vincent, Hidalgo and others, the club spent 33 years in the second division. They returned to the top tier where they have played for the past four seasons, but have dropped down again. Not a dangerous oppenent then, but one that puts in focus that very first conquest.
From the first to the eleventh (the "undécima"). This is not just a nostalgic exercise, as Madrid is today, once again, the defending champion. It is a tribute to a group, which now has only Gento remaining, that set all this in motion. That first final was repeated for the fourth cup, this time with Kopa in the team in white, although he was on the point of returning to Stade de Reims. Of that second team four more are still with us along with Gento - Santamaría, Santisteban, Antonio Ruiz and Kopa - and all expected to attend tonight's match along with Hidalgo, an opponent in both finals and who much later became the national coach. Brave and good people from another time.
Two years ago, this trophy was not celebrated. I feared that Florentino wanted to erase it from the Madridista calendar so I am glad that has not happened. The match, per se, will not be worth much, because it is not a competitive opponent and there is nothing much new to report, except that of Morata and Asensio. It seems that we are going through a summer without any other signings, hence why the presentation yesterday was somewhat exaggerated for Morata, who would do well to score today as preseason comes to an end. Benzema and Cristiano will be missing, but on show will be Bale and Kroos. It will be a pleasant evening.
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