When one thinks of ‘Spanish Football’, there are two teams that are known all over the world. FC Barcelona and Real Madrid FC. Outside of Spain, these two teams are essentialised as the whole of spanish football, while other teams within the spanish La Liga are barely known.
People who don’t follow the Spanish Football League will still know of the clash between these two giant clubs; the El Clasico. To most people outside of Spain, the El Clasico is Spanish football. Even though there are 18 other teams within the league, everyone only knows of the fabled match between Barcelona and Madrid.
This essentialism came from a long history between the two clubs, it is not only a football rivalry but a Spanish political rivalry between the cities of Barcelona and Madrid, between Catalonia and Madrid.
However this limits the view of Spanish Football. Clubs like Atletico Madrid and Valencia FC are teams that are just as good, however do not possess the same recognition as Barcelona or Real Madrid. Atletico in particular, always being overshadowed by fellow Madrid club Real Madrid.
Growth of new rivalries between clubs is one way of challenging this essentialism of Spanish Football. Showing that there is more to Football in Spain than just Barcelona and Real Madrid, the El Clasico. The Madrid Derby (Real vs Atletico Madrid), the Seville Derby (Real Betis vs Sevilla FC) and the Galician Derby (Celta Vigo vs Deportivo) are just some of the emerging rivalries being recognised worldwide.
The El Clasico unfortunately paints the picture that Spanish football only exists in Madrid and Barcelona, two cities that people will often travel to in order to see matches live. In fact there are a myriad of other cities where you can watch football that is just as exciting, such as Valencia and Sevilla!
However the El Clasico has too much history behind it and meaning for the Spanish people to be quickly overthrown as the face of Spanish Football…