Nonstop celebrations for Real after win

MADRID: Real Madrid team pose with the President of Madrid, Cristina Cifuentes at the Madrid Community headquarters during the celebrations after the team won the Spanish league football tournament. — AFP

MADRID: Real Madrid’s title celebrations show no sign of abating. The Spanish champions celebrated through the night after winning their 33rd league title on Sunday, and continued the festivities yesterday by meeting with local officials and fans at some of the city’s iconic sites. The players arrived in Madrid at about 2:30 am (0030 GMT) and went to meet the estimated 50,000 fans who had been waiting since the end of team’s match in the southern coastal city of Malaga.

Madrid won 2-0 to finish three points ahead of Barcelona. Players went to the club’s traditional celebration spot, the Plaza de Cibeles, on top of an open bus which carried the No. 33 and the words “champions” and “thank you madridistas,” which is what the team’s fans are called. Fans chanted the club’s songs and anthem, and provoked rivals Atletico Madrid and Barcelona. Defender Gerard Pique, the outspoken defender for the Catalan team, was their main target throughout the night.

Even some of the players took shots at Pique, who recently accused Madrid of being benefited by referees.
Team captain Sergio Ramos took the walkway set up over the plaza’s fountain and draped the statue of the goddess Cibele with a Spain flag that carried Madrid’s name on it. Veteran defender Marcelo then put a team scarf around the goddess’ head to a huge ovation from the crowd as confetti blasted into the air behind the players. The song “We Are The Champions” was played the whole time. Ramos, who last year also draped the Cibele goddess with a flag after Madrid won the Champions League title, recorded the moment on his cell phone and shared it with the fans.

Players also talked to the crowd, with Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored one of the goals against Malaga, singing one of the traditional songs fans chant during Madrid matches. Many of the team’s supporters stayed at the plaza long after the squad had left. “We haven’t slept a lot,” Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said later yesterday before the squad met with the capital city’s mayor and the regional president, giving them shirts autographed by all the players.

“We knew that the fans wanted this title,” Madrid club president Florentino Perez said. “And we did it thanks to this amazing group. We had a formidable season, overcoming all the obstacles.” The team ended the official celebrations by addressing thousands of fans at the Puerta del Sol square, one of the city’s main locations. Players came out on a terrace to salute the crowd. “Thank you for being here with us,” Ronaldo said. “This trophy is yours, for all the support that you have shown us. Now we go for the Champions League title and we will need you again.”

Madrid will be trying to win its third Champions League title in four seasons in a final against Juventus in Cardiff on June 3. It hadn’t won the league since 2012, and the last time it went five consecutive seasons without lifting the trophy had been from 1981-85. “We worked hard for this and now we have to enjoy it,” Madrid midfielder Mateo Kovacic said. “The fans have been with us from the start and they deserve to be celebrating.” A victory over Juventus next month will give Madrid its first European Cup-Spanish league double in nearly six decades. “Now for the 12th (Champions League title),” said the words on the back of Madrid’s bus as it left the Puerta del Sol. – AP

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