No matter the sport, when these two get together, there is tension, drama and excitement. Even in basketball, these teams carry the hopes and expectations of their people, bringing the Spanish cities of Madrid and Barcelona together in conflict yet again. In the semi-final of the Euroleague Final Four, there is a lot at stake when these sides clash.
This will be the third time that the Spanish giants have squared off against each other in the Final Four. The first time they met was 18 years ago but the second time was only last season, in the 2012/13 Final Four. Last season, Real Madrid triumphed by a score of 67-74 in the semi-final, only to lose in the final to Olympiacos while Barcelona finished fourth, losing their play-off against CSKA Moscow. The star man for Madrid in the semi-final was Felipe Eyes, who managed to grab 17 points although Sergio Rodriguez was highly influential with 12 points and a total of 9 assists in the match. Big games require big players to come to the fore and this semi-final is no different.
Domestic form gives no real clue to the outcome of the tie
Although FC Barcelona and Real Madrid have not faced each other in the Euro League this season yet, as domestic rivals, they have squared off in the 2013/14 ACB season, Liga Endesa. Both games resulted in home wins with FC Barcelona triumphing in Catalonia by 86-75 while Madrid won in the capital by a score of 98-84. This clearly gives no indicator either way about who will emerge triumphant in the semi-final although Real Madrid are higher in the league than Barcelona with a few games to go. Heading into the semi-final match, Real Madrid are top of the ACB with a record of 30 wins from 32 matches. Valencia are hot on the heels of the team from Madrid with 28 wins from 31 matches while Barcelona lie in third place with 25 wins from 32 matches. These standings may see some people making Madrid slight favourites for the semi-final but it is a game that could be too close to call until you see which players are in the mood.
With respect to the Euroleague, the regular season saw Barcelona record 7 wins and 3 losses but in the Top 16, the Catalan giants grabbed 12 wins from 14 games. Their run of form continued into the play-offs recording a 3-0 victory over Galatasaray by scores of 88-61, 84-63 and then an away triumph of 75-78. Barcelona were the only team to conclude their quarter-final match-up in three games. With two Euroleague titles behind them, in 2003 and 2010, Barcelona will be going all out to clinch a third. With their football counterparts requiring a win on Sunday against Athletic Madrid to clinch an unlikely La Liga title, Sunday evening could see massive celebrations in the Catalonian capital if the basketball and football teams win through at the end of a tough week.
Both teams looking to bring success home to Spain
Real Madrid showed blistering form in their regular season in the Euroleague, notching up 10 wins. The team continued in this vein in the Top 16, grabbing 11 wins from their 14 games. However, in the quarter-final play-offs, it was a much tighter affair. Two home wins, by 88-71 and 82-77 saw Madrid travel to Greece with a 2-0 lead over Olympiacos Piraeus but the tie was levelled at the end of the fourth match. Olympiacos triumphed 78-76 and 71-62, meaning the fifth game was the decider. An 83-69 victory ensured that Madrid would progress to the semi-finals taking on their bitter rivals.
In a unique twist running in line with the Barcelona football and basketball team, the Real Madrid basketball team is looking for success in Europe after many barren years. Real Madrid were the dominant team in European basketball in the mid-60s, triumphing in the Euroleague in 1964, 1965, 1967 and 1968. Further success followed in 1974, 1978 and 1980. However, the only win in the Final Four era for the men from Madrid came in 1995, which means that it has been an awful long time since the Whites tasted European glory. With the football team facing off against Athletic Madrid in Lisbon on the 24th of May, success in the semi-final and then the final on the 18th of May could ensure that there is a summer worth’s of European celebrations in the Spanish capital.
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