Love and hate are two sides of the same coin, or in other words, we tend to feel both with the same intensity. They fill our hearts with a strong and familiar passion, regardless of whether we want to see triumph or devastation. No football team exemplifies this sentiment quite as well as Real Madrid. 32 La Liga titles, 19 Copas Del Rey, 11 European Championships, three intercontinental Cups, two UEFA Cups, nine Spanish Super Cups, the list goes on and on and on. As their name implies they are undisputed football royalty; true giants of the game that inevitably polarize, with a CV so respectable and at the same time so begrudged. Love them or hate them, Real Madrid never fail to spark a fire in the neutral, and wherever your loyalties lie, chances are they play an important role in your fandom.
But let's rewind a bit.
It's the night of April 24th, 2013. Borussia Dortmund are lining up against Real Madrid at home in Signal Iduna park. It is the height of an era and a historic night for Jurgen Klopp's black and yellows.
The two previous seasons had seen Dortmund take the Bundesliga by storm. Their brand of "heavy metal football" mixed with an endless desire to rile the powers that be, won them two league titles in a row, and a DFB Pokal making the latter a domestic double. But they bowed out of the 2011/12 Champions League at the group stage and were still looking to prove themselves against the upper echelons of the European game. Something that would no doubt add real pedigree to the body of work that team and fans alike had already seen as a monumental achievement.
Up until then, Dortmund had only beaten Shakhtar Donetsk and a high-flying Mangala side in the knockout stages, tough ties no doubt , but they still looked for the vindication of beating a true UCL perennial. Add on the fact that Real Madrid had beaten defending champs Borussia Dortmund in the 1997/98 semi-finals on their way to a seventh European title, and you have a high-stakes tie with history behind it as well.
It was Dortmund's chance, and they grabbed it by the scruff of the neck.
Klopp's team fired four past Madrid, all courtesy of Robert Lewandowski, then held on in the return leg at the Bernabeu to advance to the final vs Bayern Munich. While we all know how that ended (moment of silence), the importance of that semi-final tie and of Real Madrid themselves to the legacy of that era should not be overlooked. Borussia Dortmund's last significant and positive moment in the eyes of world football was probably that game, and the fact that it was Real Madrid served to legitimize the Klopp era in a sense. Here was the provincial team that won their league twice against all adversity, with a can-do attitude and some exciting football. That's great, they will always be legends in the Bundesliga. Now, add a searing UCL campaign, where they won their group (which also included Madrid), cut through the in-form teams of their day, and topped it off with a drumming of none other than Real Madrid in the semis and you have a team that must be looked at seriously through the lens of football history. A team that held its own with the best and brightest of their time.
So why do we love (or hate) Real Madrid? The general admiration or jealousy aside, we should love or hate Real Madrid as BVB fans because in our team's short but sweet history in the UCL, they have always offered a stern and worthy opponent to test just how far Dortmund had come. To offer a team that always seemed to punch above their weight an exciting game, and a brush with glory. Expect nothing else from Tuesday's match.