Real Madrid 4-2 Atletico Madrid
Estadio Santiago Bernabéu
5th Nov, 1994
El Derbi Madrileño or The Madrid Derby is usually a very feisty affair that divides the City of Madrid in two halves, the differences being more political and historical than just any football rivalry, as Los Blancos Real Madrid face off against Los RojiBlancos Atletico Madrid. It was no different on the night of 5th Nov 1994.
That particular era had been dominated by Johan Cruyff’s Dream Team as FC Barcelona claimed four consecutive La Liga titles between 1990 and 1994. Emilio ‘El Buitre’ Butragueño was no longer the talisman that he had been for Real Madrid when they themselves had been Spanish Champions for five consecutive seasons between 1985 and 1990, just before Barcelona had reasserted their dominance. The Madrid faithful were hoping for another leader to emerge and fill the void left empty for far too long. Little did they know that he would soon arrive and from the most unlikely of places.
In 1992, then Atletico Madrid President Jesus Gil decided to close down their Youth Academy, a decision based on financial considerations. If only they knew the gem they were letting slip through their fingers. Raul Gonzalez, 15 years old then, moved across the town to Real Madrid’s Cadete. The talented young Spaniard moved swiftly through the youth ranks and was ready to step up to the first team at the age of 17. It was the club record for youngest player to play for senior side back then.
And so onto the night when a bitter derby was being played out at Santiago Bernabéu. Real Madrid had an uncertain start to the season under Jorge Valdano while Atletico Madrid were themselves facing a nightmarish season, a season during the course of which they will go on to play under four managers. Valdano fielded a more adventurous side, putting out a back three to offer more creativity up front, while Atletico came out more defensive trying to man-mark players and shore up things in the midfield. Current Atletico manager Diego Simeone was in the line-up that day.
The teams came out on the pitch with a 100,000 fans roaring at the top of their voice as the match began at a frenzied pace. It was the sort of football associated with Real Madrid – sublime and mesmerising. Fernando Redondo was running through Atletico’s lines while El Genio Michael Laudrup, Real’s No 10 was linking up brilliantly with Zamorano and Raul up front, despite being marked profusely by Atletico’s Soler. After cancelling each other out for the first 20 minutes, the game turned on its head as Raul was fouled in the box and Michel despatched the resulting penalty. Minutes later, Amavisca floated a perfect ball in the penalty area, which Zamorano conveniently headed into the net. On 36 minutes, Atletico pulled one back through Kosecki.
And then the moment came. Michael Laudrup went on one of his runs and with his trademark ‘looking one way and passing the other’ style, passed the ball on to the feet of onrushing Raul who finished with aplomb. One touch of his left foot and the ball flew into the top corner of the net. The Bernabéu was in ruptures. It was, as one observer noted, ‘A boy scoring with the fortitude of a man’.
There was still time for Zamorano to score his second for the night (he would go on to claim the Pichichi) and for Atletico to pull one back. It was Simeone who scored that goal, converting a penalty just before half time. Six goals were scored in the first half. The second half offered more expansive football, with Atletico shrugging off their first half tactics. At the end of the game, they too emerged with their heads held high. Even so, there were no more goals scored as the game finished at 4 -2. Among others, Fernando Redondo was immense for Real Madrid, a dominating presence in the midfield throughout.
The game provided the necessary impetus to Real, as they went on to claim La Liga after four years of domination by Barcelona. It proved to be another failing of the season for Atletico as they could only manage a 14th place finish.
But the game will always be remembered for the coming of age of the boy who came from Atleti. Atletico Madrid were forever left to rue that they let him go, the one who went on to become one of Real Madrid’s greatest, the one who became El Ángel de Madrid.