10-20 Real Madrid at Bernabeu 005 10-20 Real Madrid at Bernabeu 013

Blue seats. Blue sky. A few blue jerseys, but mostly the crowd is here for the home team. Royal Madrid.

We file in, climb up, take our seats. Around us, a few people dig into bags of sunflower seeds or peanuts. Light up their cigarettes. Smoke drifts up in tiny clouds, like swarms of gnats rising from a field.

As the game gets going, the stadium vibrates. The energy is electric. Bodies moving in harmony. Voices crying out in discord, going hoarse. On my right, a man mutters muy bien every time Real does something good, and joder every time they don’t.

The biggest difference between Bernabeu and an American stadium is the focus. There are no food vendors, no beer stands, no team stores. No distractions. You are here for one thing and one thing only: to cheer your team, devotedly.

All of a sudden: GOOOOOL! Everyone erupts, happy or not.

We push up to the edge of our seats with excitement. We slump back in dejection. We heave a breath of relief. We shake our heads in frustration. Back and forth, back and forth — our emotions, the players, the ball crossing the field. This is the rhythm of sport. The rhythm of a city united for a moment in time.

4 responses to “Bernabeu”