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Liverpool vs. Real Madrid: What does ‘Chorreo’ mean?

The Spanish phrase was frequently used before and after Real Madrid’s Champions League tie against Liverpool in March 2009. But what does it mean?

Raúl busca un remate ante la salida de Pepe Reina, durante una visita del Real Madrid a Anfield, el 10 de marzo de 2009.
Laurence GriffithsGetty Images

When Real Madrid and Liverpool’s names were plucked from the pots in November’s Champions League Last 16 draw, one word sprang to mind - at least in the Spanish capital - chorreo. It’s not a word that is heard often in everyday conversion in Spain but has become synonymous whenever Real Madrid and Liverpool cross paths in European competition.

Jamie Carragher confessed he had no idea what chorreo meant when he was interviewed by AS ahead of the 2014/15 group stage meetings between the two clubs.

It all dates back to February 2009 when Real Madrid and Liverpool played the first leg of their Champions League Last 16 tie at the Bernabéu. This would be Liverpool’s first visit to the Bernabéu in official competition, while Madrid had never set foot in Anfield in spite of their storied past in Europe.

Arbeloa, in action against Real Madrid.
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Arbeloa, in action against Real Madrid.Paul EllisAFP

New coach, new president

There was upheaval at both clubs - there had been question marks over Rafa Benítez’s future on the Liverpool bench while Real Madrid had sacked coach Bernd Schuster just before Christmas, drafted in Juande Ramos as his replacement.

Six weeks before the first leg against Liverpool, president Ramón Calderón stepped down, leaving Vicente Boluda to take office on an interim basis until new elections were arranged.

Expectations for the first leg in Madrid were high and Boluda was in buoyant mood. “I am convinced that we are going to win the league,” he told Cadena COPE, “ ...and the Champions League”. And when asked to predict a scoreline for the Last 16 tie, he was in no doubt at all: “Here, we’ll beat them 3-0. And over there, 1-2, easily”. He went on to explain why: “Because they will have to come out on the attack and that will leave them wide open, we’ll thrash them”.

It’s difficult to say how serious Boluda was trying to be, or whether his comments were just lighthearted banter. But obviously, his words were pounced on right away by the Spanish media - “Vamos a chorrear alli” (“It will be a walkover, over there”). Chorrear, the verb, an informal term literally meaning a deluge or downpour of goals - a walkover, a hiding… used on this occasion instead of the standard baño or bañazo, which means the same thing.

Benayoun heads home at the Berna.
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Benayoun heads home at the Berna.PAUL ELLISAFP

Benayoun header

The first leg in Spain was a bit of a letdown. Juande Ramos’ team had five attempts on goal and Benítez’s Liverpool, four. The match was decided late on and after a defensive slip-up. Gabi Heinze gave away a foul out wide on the right on 83 minutes, and Yossi Benayoun, the shortest player on the pitch, rose above the Madrid defence to nod in the winner and give the Reds a vital away goal to take back to Anfield for the second leg.

The result was bitterly disappointing for Madrid - a team not exactly used to losing European games at their own stadium ( before the game, they had suffered just three home defeats in five seasons: Juventus 2008, Roma 2008 and Arsenal 2006). But all was not lost, there was still the second leg to play and Boluda for one was convinced that Madrid would turn the tie around as they had famously done on so many occasions - remembering the epic remontadas against Derby County in 1976, Anderlecht in 1985 and Borussia Mönchengladbach in 1986.

One thing that perhaps Boluda hasn’t counted on was his words might actually reach Liverpool, who not only had a Spanish manager and coaching staff but a handful of Spanish, or Spanish-speaking players. Benítez and his Spanish Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Xabi Alonso, Javier Mascherano, Fernando Torres, Albert Reira… may well have got wind of all this talk of chorreando. They would know exactly what it meant.

In one way, Boluda was proved right, there was indeed a chorreo when the two teams returned for the return leg at Anfield, only Madrid were on the receiving end of it. Juande Ramos’ side lost 4-0 - Madrid’s second heaviest defeat ever in Europe and that strange word chorreo was back in the headlines the following day.