In some ways, you’d think Real Madrid would have a relatively quiet evening in store later today at La Rosaleda. Málaga probably realize that it’s a little too late to do anything about their situation while Madrid’s only interest in LaLiga is to keep players competitive, engaged and with spirits high in readiness to contest the only trophy they have left to play for this season - the Champions League. The last thing we expected was a rant from Zidane in yesterday’s press conference. The reaction to the penalty awarded for Benatia’s foul on Lucas has clearly irritated him no end. So it was a bit strange to see a man who is usually the picture of calm go on a long-winded and bitter diatribe. But we have to try and understand it from his point of view. Getting his Real Madrid side where they are today has been a struggle and hearing accusations of a so-called heist against Juve in the semis must be hurtful for a man who has worked very hard to try and make his team a success.
Antagonism is nothing new
I don’t know whether it will come as any consolation to Zidane to hear that this has always gone on – at least since I can remember. Real Madrid is a reference in football, they’ve won a lot – more than anyone else and every time a refereeing decision goes their way it is immediately noted down by their detractors in stone and paraded as some kind of favouritism. Conversely, when decisions go against them, it's quickly forgotten about. The same happened when they offered bonuses to third party teams to win their games, Madrid paid them in exactly the same way that other clubs did to teams to beat them. A friend of mine used to say that madridismo is Spain’s second, official religion – but anti-madridismo is the third and it's growing – it already has many faithful devotees.
Anti-madridistas have a field day
Of course, this particular case has caused more controversy than others because it concerns one specific move – a borderline case at that. Benatia brought down Lucas, but as some people asked: was their enough contact to produce the fall? For me there was, and even Stoichkov went as far as admitting that it was a foul - although I can understand that for others, it wasn’t. Yet there was enough material there to stoke up an argument. I think what’s happened here is that after all of the mocking Barça were subjected to after they were dumped out by Roma, people got a real kick out of seeing Madrid up against the ropes and they jumped on the penalty decision and Buffon’s indignation to pretend that things were different from how they really were. Several good friends of mine tell me that, given the choice between seeing Madrid lose or win a game ‘on the sly’; they’d rather see Madrid do the latter. So even when there is no ‘robbery’, they like to kid themselves that something, somehow was amiss.