Madrid | Ronaldinho‘s magical weaves through the Real Madrid defenders had home supporters at the Santiago Bernabéu applauding in appreciation Saturday. He scored twice, and the Catalans dominated 3–0. This was the 30th anniversary of the death of Francisco Franco, but the admiration shown Ronaldinho—albeit a Brazilian on a field of well-compensated professionals, with uncertain connections to these past and present tensions—suggested that the Madridistas could see the day as a sporting occasion (although a sizeable minority, apparently, were taunting Barça and Cameroon striker Samuel Eto’o).
The last Barcelona player to be honored with applause was Diego Maradona. Jimmy Burns, author of Barça: A People’s Passion and of a book about David Beckham‘s transfer to Real Madrid, writes in the Financial Times of the Madrid side’s historic connection to the Spanish dictator. Catalan demands for autonomy within Spain have not faded, with Spanish historian Luis Suárez telling Burns: “It feels as if we are reliving the arguments that generated the civil war all over again, with the politics of nationhood and regional aspirations influencing a football match in a way that should best be kept outside the stadium.”
Burns also takes an admirable tangent in citing Barcelona chef Ferran Adrií . The culinary celebrity likens Ronaldinho, Eto’o, Deco and Lionel Messi to “good caviar, tender pine-nuts, chemical-free sea salt, and the purest of virgin olive oils.”