Atlético de Madrid’s Stadium, the Vicente Calderon during halftime of the Atlético-Real Madrid game on Nov. 19. Real Madrid won the game by a score of 3-0. Photo by David Akerman.

Atlético de Madrid’s Stadium, the Vicente Calderon during halftime of the Atlético-Real Madrid game on Nov. 19. Real Madrid won the game by a score of 3-0. Photo by David Akerman.

Constant chanting, fans jumping all around and red smoke being thrown in the air. And this wasn’t even inside of the stadium. These fans were going crazy and the game hadn’t started.

Over the Thanksgiving break I had the opportunity to go to two high-level soccer games in Spain. The first was in Madrid at the Vicente Calderon. Atlético de Madrid and Real Madrid, two of the most well known teams in the world were playing in one of the biggest soccer rivalry matches. Not only was this an extremely important game for both teams in the league, but it would also be the last Madrid Derby played at the Vicente Calderon as Atlético is moving to a new stadium next season. This game is considered a derby because the two teams are from Madrid and have contrasting identities. Their stadiums are also about six miles away from each other.

Right from the first whistle of the game, it was a heated contest. Hard fouls between the players early set the tone for the game. Fans of both teams hurled insults at each other, but more specifically the players. The player that was targeted the most? Real Madrid’s Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo. The game went 1-0, 2-0, and finally 3-0. Each goal was scored by Ronaldo.

What impressed me the most was even though their team was losing, the Atlético fans were still singing and chanting towards the end of the game, pushing the players on, hoping for at least one goal.

Just two days later, I traveled to Sevilla to watch a Champions League game between Sevilla and the Italian champions, Juventus. The Champions League is arguably the biggest club competition in the world. Although this stadium was considerably smaller than Atletico’s (by about 14,000 seats) I felt that there was more noise. There wasn’t one second during the game where Sevilla fans weren’t jumping up and down.

The crowd went absolutely crazy when they scored the first goal of the game, but from that point on nothing really went their way. They were constantly screaming and whistling at the referee, who made multiple questionable calls. It seemed more important for the fans to get their insults out at him than paying attention to the actual game. Sevilla wound up losing 3-1, but by their passion and singing, one would have thought they won.

It was the first time I had gone to a European league as well as a Champions League game and it was everything I expected and more. The way the fans care about the teams is incredible and how they can constantly chant and sing for 90 straight minutes fascinates me. I’ve been to World Cup and Copa America games and while those experiences were also amazing, there’s something different about league games, especially the Champions League.

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