Uncovering the Game in Madrid
Just a couple hundred meters from the Santiago Bernabéu, there are a hundred little Madrileños playing on a rooftop. A bell rings every 20 minutes. Each time, the pitch empties for a moment, only to be filled by another hundred students-turned-footballers who dream of playing on a patch of grass that’s only five minutes away. They may stand in the shadows of giants and galacticos, but they’re also the ones who play with the passion that makes Spanish football what it is.
Over the next few days, we’re collaborating with the Spanish Tourism Board to explore Madrid’s football culture and its endless stories. But here’s the thing: We can (and will) see Atletico and Cristiano and even Rayo Vallecano. But, really, anyone can do that. And, indeed, we’re sure many you have. So we want to hear from you about the unexpected, unforgettable experiences: the hidden pitches, the graffiti, and definitely that one place with an incredible bocadillo named after Diego Simeone that made your trip to the Calderón 100 times better.
Our eyes and ears are wide open.
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We just landed yesterday, and we’ll be documenting everything here, as well as on Instagram and on Twitter. You can even find some shots of Madrid that go beyond the pitch on my personal Instagram. Everything will be tracked with the #whereisfootball & #mustseemadrid hashtags. Let’s uncover some hidden gems in a city that lives and breathes the game! Words and photo taken by Eric, writing while thoroughly jetlagged and only moments away from a siesta.

Uncovering the Game in Madrid

Just a couple hundred meters from the Santiago Bernabéu, there are a hundred little Madrileños playing on a rooftop. A bell rings every 20 minutes. Each time, the pitch empties for a moment, only to be filled by another hundred students-turned-footballers who dream of playing on a patch of grass that’s only five minutes away. They may stand in the shadows of giants and galacticos, but they’re also the ones who play with the passion that makes Spanish football what it is.

Over the next few days, we’re collaborating with the Spanish Tourism Board to explore Madrid’s football culture and its endless stories. But here’s the thing: We can (and will) see Atletico and Cristiano and even Rayo Vallecano. But, really, anyone can do that. And, indeed, we’re sure many you have. So we want to hear from you about the unexpected, unforgettable experiences: the hidden pitches, the graffiti, and definitely that one place with an incredible bocadillo named after Diego Simeone that made your trip to the Calderón 100 times better.

Our eyes and ears are wide open.

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The persistence of legends

By Anthony Lopopolo

This time, Franco Baresi would play.

He was there with the Italians and the Portuguese, all legends from their country, descending on a pitch in Toronto.

For all of them — Roberto Baggio, Paolo Di Canio, Pauleta, Maniche — the chase of the game is gone, the roars faded, the final whistle blown. But on this Monday night the cheers were loud, and the fans cared and the goals mattered. It was only an 80-minute game, and you could forgive them. This was an aberration of so many kinds, and they all embraced and smiled at the end. It was a taste of the life they once had.

Baresi was here just a month ago with Milan Glorie, the globetrotting icons of the famous seven-time European champion. Then he did not play. He didn’t look like he could.

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Carlo Ancelotti: Cool in the hottest of moments

By Anthony Lopopolo

On the margins of a blank piece of paper, he would scribble in his starters. He would fill the rest of the page with points about the defence and attack: to maintain possession, to play two-touch football, to bide your time. And he would make copies and hand them out to his players before matches.

Carlo Ancelotti writes all of his notes by hand. He writes in ink. He always wanted to make that human connection. “You can’t write a love letter on a computer,” he writes in his book, The Beautiful Games of an Ordinary Genius. You could say Ancelotti is a bit of a romantic.

Communication is the most important thing. He wants everyone’s opinions. If one of his players is upset, Ancelotti hears them out. He prefers talking to his team instead of shouting; listening instead of ignoring, even when he knows he is right. 

“For me,” says the 54-year-old, coach of Real Madrid, “it’s managing people. Managing Ronaldo is the same for me as managing Carvajal or Morata.”

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Everyone’s Second Team: Why Atletico Madrid Deserve Our Support

By Caleb Cousens

This year we have been lucky enough to witness a season of special moments thanks to the exploits of Atletico Madrid and Liverpool FC. Neither team were taken seriously at the start of the season, yet both have rocketed to the top of their respective domestic leagues playing their own unique brands of football. I will let someone else wax eloquent about Brendan Rogers and the Anfield faithful, for now let’s head to the Estadio Vicente Calderon.

This is the year of the underdog, and as such, it’s not a bad time to get behind Diego Simeone’s swashbuckling side that has been kicking ass and taking names. Atleti have shattered the illusion of La Liga’s duopoly, beginning with a Copa del Rey at the end of last season that set the tone for what would come. It was the first time that the lesser known Madrid side had beaten the big white machine in 25 matches spanning 14 years. They started this season as they finished, by beating Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu, and have proceeded to remain undefeated against Real Madrid and FC Barcelona in La Liga this entire year.

In the Champions League their success seems even less likely. Atletico Madrid have one of the smallest squads in Europe, but have managed to thrive both domestically and in Europe, beating the crème of the crop from Russia, Portugal, Italy and Spain on their way to the Semi-Finals.

That said, why should you support Atletico Madrid?

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Scythe Matters - AFR Voice Ep.37

Well, it’s been an interesting Easter weekend for David Moyes. First he was stared down by the Grim Reaper at Goodison Park, and now his sacking is confirmed. We’ll be taking a look at what’s gone wrong for the Scotsman, and who the Red Devils can turn to next.

Elsewhere in England, it’s been a big weekend for the Liverpool winning machine which took another big step towards the title, beating Norwich as Chelsea lost a home league game under Jose Mourinho for the first time in 77 games. But what will the ramifications of that result be at both the top and bottom of the table?

Then it’s off to the Continent where Chelsea will have to forget about the weekend very quickly, as they take on Atletico Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals. We’ll be previewing this game, as well as another huge one across town when Real Madrid take on Bayern Munich in the other last four tie a day later. Strap yourselves in: it’s definitely business time.

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A crown for a new king who couldn’t be stopped

He was shoved out. He could have dived. He could have taken the foul and slowed the game down. Instead, he stayed on his feet, knowing more than anyone that nothing could stop him. Gareth Bale stepped up, and now there are no doubts. Madrid will remember this one legendary run for years to come. [Art by Kendall Henderson. Words by Eric]

Classic Clásico - AFR Voice Ep. 33

As things hot up in title races across the continent, things are getting especially spicy at the top of La Liga. This week we’ll be taking a look at what is being hailed as possibly the finest clásico of the century between Real Madrid and Barcelona, and why despite the result neither team are currently top of the league.

There’s been plenty going on across the Atlantic too, where Jermain Defoe definitely didn’t forget to pack his shooting boots when he got on that plane to Toronto, and David Beckham has released plans for a new stadium in Miami that wouldn’t look out of place in… Portsmouth.

With the World Cup now only 78 days away, there’s one team who couldn’t be much further from Brazil. Infamous for once losing 31-0 to Australia, American Samoa have been propping up the Fifa rankings for some time now, but with an ex-MLS coach now in charge of the side their fortunes are starting to change. The story is told excellently in the forthcoming documentary ‘Next Goal Wins’, which you can get a sneak peak of here.

We’ll also be taking a look at the latest controversy to hit Fifa, where issues surrounding the World Cup bid process continue to rumble on. With the FBI now involved, is the clock now ticking for world football’s governing body, and possibly Qatar 2022?

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A Footballer’s Essentials
Gerrard can’t leave the dressing room without his armband. Zizou hit the pitch in his iconic golden boots. With a minimalist approach, illustrator TheLimeBath captures the essentials that the world’s best footballers need to control the game.
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Find more of The Lime Bath’s work here. Posted by Eric.

A Footballer’s Essentials

Gerrard can’t leave the dressing room without his armband. Zizou hit the pitch in his iconic golden boots. With a minimalist approach, illustrator TheLimeBath captures the essentials that the world’s best footballers need to control the game.

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Looking back to look forward: EURO 2012

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