For ninety minutes the world stands still as all eyes stay focused on the grandest football spectacle in club football when two of the biggest teams in Spain and Europe clash with one another for a position of advantage in the title race and more pressingly, probably, bragging rights.

The love for one of the most recognisable fixtures in the world of sport transgresses physical borders and known constraints as people from all walks of life and every part of the globe tune into the game irrespective of geographical shortcomings.

Such is the reverence for the occasion as two fans of the Madrid-based club from all the way down in India record their vivid memories of catching their favourite team in action against their fiercest rivals.

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24-year-old Mumbaikar Sai Mohan elucidated his experience at the Santiago Bernabeau back in the year 2020 before the iconic stadium was subjected to structural changes as part of a renovation program to make the cauldron even grander.

“This was before the El Classico on 3rd March 2020. it had been 6 months since I’d moved to Madrid and it was FINALLY the time I watched the Classico. I’d been trying to get the tickets but unfortunately, every single ticket was sold under 3 minutes. The prices of tickets being sold on re-saleable websites were through the roof and beyond my budget.”

“I kept refreshing the Real Madrid website and all other ticket sites every minute. The match was to begin at 9:00 pm local time and at around 8:20 pm I suddenly see ONE TICKET available on the official website. I checked the price and I couldn’t believe my luck. It was JUST €80. To top it all – I probably got one of the best seats ever – NEAR ONE OF THE CORNER FLAGS. I completely forgot about my swollen knee, which I’d injured while playing football in February 2020, I practically started running towards the Bernabeu as I lived about 1.4kms away from the stadium.”

“I joined the pre-match celebrations and made my way into the stadium. As I reached my seat – I thanked my stars. The first half began with Real Madrid defending this side of the corner/ side while I was still in awe watching my childhood idols play about 40meters away from me.”

“The second half began – and halfway through it – it was poetry in motion. Modric to Toni Kroos; Kroos raises his hand in motion to tell Vini to make the run – Vini makes the run – AND SCORES. What made the goal even more special was that Vini Jr. celebrated with the all favourite “SIUUUUUUU” celebration – while his idol, Cristiano Ronaldo, watched from on the of the Executive Boxes. That was Cristiano’s first visit back ‘home’ after leaving in 2018.”

“The match ended with another infamous goal by Zizou’s super sub – Mariano Díaz, whose first touch ended as a goal. What makes this memory very special to me is that – this was the last El Classico which was played before the world came to a halt and while the old Santiago Bernabeu existed. Looking forward to my next Classico when the stadium is fully complete and embrace it as my home.”

Another fan, Siddharth Jha, from Vadodra who travels regularly to Mumbai just to catch a glimpse of the game, on-screen nevertheless, says his shared experience with the Madrid faithful in India makes Classico nights special.

“I am a huge fan of Real Madrid, being from a Small Town near Vadodara I didn’t have any chance to show my passion for the club I love the most. So when I stumbled upon a post from @officialbombaypena about an el-clasico screening that they were going to organise in Mumbai, I couldn’t resist myself for a second and booked my tickets to Mumbai to watch the Clasico with them and boy that turned out to be one hell of an experience.”

“Been attending almost every event that they organize ever since. Travelling 800kms just to watch a 90 minutes game on a screen is what people conceive to be crazy, But for me getting to share the love and passion for the club with the same set of people is what I consider to be the most precious 90 minutes.  . Hala Madrid y nada más.”

Real Madrid will seek to get one over their long-term rivals from Catalunya when the match kicks off in the Spanish capital on Sunday. The teams enter the game placed second and first on the table respectively, level on points after 8 game weeks and just goal difference separating them.

With the scenario poised evenly, Carlo Ancelotti and Xavi know fully well that a victory against their title rivals will be worth more than just the three points on offer as many a title race has been decided by the outcome of the most highly touted derby.

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By Dipak

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