Competition
  • Champions League

Women's football: Madrid derby draws big crowd at the Wanda

Real Madrid still don't have a women's side, because the club's president, Florentino Pérez, doesn't want one - and won't be budged on an issue on which he remains steadfastly behind the curve. Atlético Madrid and Rayo Vallecano do have teams, though; and there is in fact a Madrid who aren't Real, but are the real deal. They're called Madrid Club de Fútbol Femenino, they play in white, and they have completed the set of Spanish capital clubs. Having made it into Primera División this season, they're faring well. Indeed, it's fair to say they've been a revelation, given that they're gunning for a top-eight finish that brings with it a spot in the Copa de la Reina. For their home game against the newcomers yesterday, Atlético had the bright idea of using the Wanda Metropolitano, and drew no fewer than 22,202 spectators. It was a fine evening of football, with that age-old derby feel.

Yesterday's big crowd is by no means a record...

It wasn't a record crowd for ladies' football in Spain, mind you; that mark belongs to San Mamés, which has attracted as many as 36,000. Athletic Club have, after all, been a key driving force behind the women's game. Following the Basques' example, several clubs have turned to their main venues for big matches. Atlético had already done so at the Calderón, before taking advantage of this weekend's derbi madrileño to open up the Wanda. Free entry for club members, a fiver for the rest, with almost everyone packing out the lower ring of seats and the chants of the Frente Atlético supporters' group whipping up a party atmosphere. A fantastic occasion, one that ended in a 2-2 draw that dented the title hopes of the hosts, who needed the points to keep the pressure up on leaders Barcelona. That helped to give the affair that added edge that every true derby enjoys.

Creation of Madrid CFF has laid it on a plate for Florentino...

Madrid CFF is the personal brainchild of Alfredo Ulloa, a businessman who is the owner of a chain of highstreet opticians in Spain. His daughter, Paola, is the keeper, and a fine one at that. A passionate Madridista, he didn't want to see Paola playing for city rivals Atlético, so a couple of years ago opted to set up his own team, which has now reached the top flight and is competing. He is following in the pioneering footsteps of Atlético Femenino's general manager, Lola Romero, who got the side up and running. Having begun as a kind of let's-see-how-they-do 'guest' team, they have since blossomed into a core element of the club, with a burgeoning track record that includes last season's league championship. Ulloa's efforts have left Pérez with the firmest of foundations on which to get things going at Real Madrid. It really couldn't have been made any easier for him.