I like the Madrid derby. To some degree, more than the Clásico, perhaps because that game has become so global that it doesn't really feel like it's mine. The Clásico as an out-of-the-ordinary game is something relatively new, whereas a derby – from Madrid, Barcelona or wherever – shapes our biographies as lifelong fans. Each new game evokes past ones, because the colours come together and combine in the same way and it’s easy to see the heroes of yesteryear in the shirt. For instance, we all remember Isacio Calleja, a Madrid derby regular who played with flair and virtuosity.
This derby arrives at a good time. Both sides are in decent shape and have two resolute and esteemed trainers who have their ideas well installed among their players, with their standing cemented by good results. Morata is one of the big stories of this match after crossing over the road and ending up back at his boyhood club. Vinicius too, in many ways, because he is still a newbie gathering first impressions and taking his first bite on new stages. Both players’ fortunes in this game demand our attention. According to Hermel, in France the spotlight will shine brightly on Benzema and Griezmann, both currently at the fore in their respective sides.
For the optimists, Messi’s emerging aches and pains have kept the title race alive. Who knows. But in any event, what is most definitely at play, as always, is that ‘honour’, those bragging rights, managing to get one over on a rival. Sealing three points may or may not mean that much because, ultimately, finishing second or fourth amounts to the same. It’s more about the morning after, the talk spreading through the café, classroom or office, and the afternoon too, and the ones after that, until the next derby. As I noted above, this remains a game between two arch rivals.