Barça-Madrid: the origins
Barça-Madrid in the Cup, in a semifinal with an uncertain prognosis. The rivalry between the two clubs has not eased and in the past there have been moments of high tension, both on the pitch (the final that Undiano whistled in 2011 without going any further) and in the offices: the famous Di Stéfano case. But when do hostilities begin? This is a war that comes from afar and has more than a hundred years of history ...
The Hundred Years' War
A Cup tie that lasted 420 minutes - of which only 90 were played in Barcelona and the rest in Madrid -, a game in which three penalties were scored in favor of Madrid, an outcome with Barça withdrawal and subsequent resignation of the white president , stoned players, suspicions of refereeing bias and even bribes and a final score of 15-11 in favor of Madrid form the legend of the first round match between the two greats of Spanish football.
It happened in the spring of 1916 and laid the foundations of this never-ending battle that is constantly being fed back.
Four games, three in Madrid, were necessary for the resolution of the clash
In 1916 Spain lived relatively foreign to the European war. At the end of March, three days after the composer Enric Granados and his wife lost their lives when the ship they were traveling on was torpedoed by the Germans, the Sussex, a Cup semi-final was opened that was to become the first chapter of this sports war.
The first leg, in Barcelona, was played in the field that Espanyol had on Muntaner Street and the Catalans won (2-1). The white version of the clash speaks of a very doubtful last goal; The azulgrana highlights the toughness of the rival that led to the inferiority of Barcelona. A week later, at the Atlético de Madrid field, the second leg was played. And the incidents began. Two Barça players, Santiago Massana and Vinyals, did not travel with the official expedition - for personal reasons - and took a later train that suffered a breakdown. Eight hours late prevented them from reaching the game, but neither Madrid nor the Federation agreed to delay the clash for one day.
Madrid went through 15-11 but fell in the final in Barcelona against Athletic in a hostile environment
Barça took the field with nine footballers, thinking that the other two would arrive at any moment. At this point one of the great protagonists of history intervenes, Paco Bru. Although he had been retired for a year - then he was a referee - his status as a Barça partner and not having played for any other team allowed him to join the game midway through the first half. Bru was in the stands as a reporter for Mundo Deportivo and with him was added Costa, who was traveling as a substitute. Barça, with 11 shortly before the break, succumbed (4-1) and the tiebreaker match was arranged (the goal difference was not taken into account).
The third game, despite Barça's efforts, was also played in Madrid and ended, after extra time, in a shocking tie at six. For this clash, Barça recovered one of its most valuable elements, goalkeeper Lluís Bru (not related to Paco), who had earned a just fame as one of the best goalkeepers until the arrival of Zamora. As a result of a spectacular 0-4 score on the extremely difficult Athletic field, in Bilbao they dedicated this quatrain to him: "San Pedro himself / can be treated as you / in the role of goalkeeper / Catalan Luis Bru." Paulino Alcántara, with three goals, and Santiago Bernabeu, with four, were the heroes of each team. The referee, Berraondo, whistled three penalties against Barça. Bru stopped two (some chronicles say that one cleared him with a header) but the last one, in the 117th minute and when Barça won 5-6, meant a tie at six and the dispute of a fourth game.
"The referee's tricks made us lose. I cried like a child"
Back in Madrid and with Berraondo whistle in hand, Madrid won 4-2 in extra time. The Catalans felt very damaged by the refereeing until, shortly before the end, they decided to retire. In his memoirs, Alcántara relates: “The tricks of the referee Berraondo made us lose in Madrid. The defeat made me feel tremendously sad. It was the first time I cried like a child from the unexpected and terrible humiliation. We played more than three hours with a hostile and passionate audience. I will never forget the martingales of that thug Berraondo ”.
Barça, which was disqualified by the Spanish Federation, had a tremendous reception at the Gràcia halt, and the atmosphere for the Madrid-Athletic final heated up considerably. It was played in the Espanyol field, turned into a muddy by the rain, and Madrid ran into a hostile environment in which they fell, 4-0, with arbitration by Paco Bru!
The white president had to resign because he was blamed for having accepted to play the final in Barcelona, an unknown person offered both Bernabeu and the rojiblanco captain a favorable arbitration for 500 pesetas, the white players were stoned at the end of the game and the The first battle of the war, now almost a hundred years old, was set for history. Barça and Madrid took a year and a half to play a simple friendly again.
Published to "La Vanguardia" on January 18, 2012