The whole match had been disappointing. Everybody in the team knew it. They had to win the clásico but, in the end, they hadn't been able to endure so much pressure. All their fans, all the socios were expecting them to defeat FC Barcelona, to clean their opponents' clock, to lick them. Real Madrid had had a bad season. Oh, of course, they were in the top three of the Liga; they even were the second best team so far. Nobody, though, could be satisfied with it in the capital. They had to win the league this year. Every single TV channel, every single newspaper and every single website had emphasized it at the beginning of the new season: Real Madrid had to reassure its fans all around the world after three tough years. Since 2012, they hadn't won any Liga and they unsuccessfully struggled to qualify for the semi-final in the UEFA Champions League one year ago. They had won one measly Copa del Rey in 2014 but it wasn't enough. Meanwhile, the Catalan club had won three leagues and even the most biased and determined fans of Madrid had to admit that their team wasn't good enough. Sometimes, they played well, especially when they had to meet a weak club like Éibar; nevertheless, they always ended up losing when it came to the most difficult matches. Their coach, Carlo Ancelotti, hadn't been able to put things right, despite his countless tactical reshuffle and his well-known skills as a born leader.

That night, he even didn't bother to shout the players' head off. He just looked at them in the locker room, shook his head and went away. The ambiance in the team had become more than unpleasant. Each defeat in a crucial match seemed to worsen the situation and even the best scorers got unsure in front of the opposing goal. They were due to be better than that but they simply couldn't, as if the magic had faded away. Everybody tried to maintain the "team spirit", as everybody called it, particularly the "historic" players, the ones who knew everything about Real Madrid, the ones who respected this team, the ones who understood its history, its meaning for millions of people throughout the world. Iker Casillas, the captain, acted this way and so did Sergio Ramos. He was the most charismatic player of the team and one of the most humble. He had won many Ligas, one World Cup and two European Championships. He was considered one of the greatest defenders on Earth, he had been a magazine cover feature so many times, he was admired by all the socios but, most of all, he knew that he was just a member of a great history, of a magic club that was the dream of countless children all around the world. Even the men had to admit he was very handsome - no, he was not handsome, he was hot. Many women were envious of his ex girlfriends, especially of Pilar Rubio, a famous anchorwoman who had given him a child. He knew how to stay close to the people; he always had time to give them some autographs, to speak with them a little. That's why everybody loved him and, above all, held him in high esteem. He was a like a model for Spanish citizens, who wanted to find good examples to follow in these tough times. His teammates also respected him since he always had the whole team in mind; he wasn't the least selfish, he cared about them, about their problems, about their health.

He and Cristiano Ronaldo were at opposite poles. Of course, everyone had to admit that Cristiano was a damn good player and an incredible scorer. But he didn't believe in that special "team spirit" everybody was talking about. To him, that was just bullshit. He thought that there were only gifted or useless people, gifted or useless players. There was no "magic", no history to respect. Of course, he believed he was the best one in this team, the one everybody had to admire, to compliment, to flatter (and he loved being flattered). He had an incredible and unbearable individualistic behaviour on the soccer field. He wanted to shine, to be the only one in the spotlight. Above all, he wanted everybody to accept that he was the only true soccer god; not only the socios, not only his fans but his teammates too. Since Florentino Pérez, the club president, bought him, he had satisfied the public. Nonetheless, over the three past years, his talent had seemed to vanish. He had scored less and less goals and they were less and less extraordinary. But there was another major problem: he was ruining the ambiance. No other player could stand him. He was always unpleasant, rude and self-absorbed. He didn't pay attention to his teammates' criticisms and observations. To him, they were jealous of his uncommon gifts; they couldn't admit he was better than them. They envied his beauty, his success amongst women, his unbelievable sense of style, his sex appeal, his lavish lifestyle. He was always bragging about his new girlfriend, an American model he had just met a few months ago. He really thought that all the other players wanted to fuck her and got angry because they couldn't.

At the beginning, his teammates tried to make him change his attitude, to make him become more humble. They were appalled at his behaviour; how could anybody act like such a spoiled brat? Afterwards, they strove to ignore him. He would simmer down, he would understand that he was just a member of the team, a part of the club. He would finally behave like a grown man, he would respect the venerable institution he worked for. He didn't, though. He was unable to face his problems, to face the problems of the team. He thought that the other players were responsible for the defeats. How could he have been? He was the best, he couldn't be blamed for those failures. He played well, the problems came from the others. Since he was the best-paid player in the team, since he made the club earn a lot of money (you know, soccer shirts, sponsorship and stuff like that), the president didn't want to criticize him, didn't want him to feel bad or edged out. Even the coach thought he was a sucker, a moron, but Florentino Pérez didn't let him be too harsh with him. And it made his teammates even madder. They considered him a shallow person; he was just interested in his own personal glory, in his cars, in his precious clothes. Many players wanted to strike him, to beat the shit out of him, just to teach him how to behave. But nobody dared. He wasn't daunting, despite his brawny body. They all were strong and some of them seemed "wilder", more powerful, more intimidating, like Sergio Ramos, who was a true macho in spite of his kindness. But they just didn't want the situation to get worse. They strove to ignore him, not to speak to him, not to answer his ridiculous criticisms. They hoped he would be soon leaving the club but they knew it wasn't the case.

That night, after that shameful defeat against Barcelona, they were silent in the locker room. They all took a shower in their private cubicle and quickly got dressed. Nobody said a word. There wasn't anything to say. They had played poorly during the match, especially Cristiano Ronaldo, who had been constantly blaming them for his own mistakes. They had coped in silence. Sergio Ramos glanced at him as he pulled on his ludicrous polo shirt and his hideous jacket. Everybody in the team thought Cristiano had no sense of style, but he was convinced they were wrong, that they criticized him because they were jealous. To Sergio, who really looked buff and manly (particularly with his beard and his tattoos), Cristiano was a kind of sissy. There was no such "metrosexual"; at least, he was positive that Cristiano wasn't a metrosexual. He considered him as a true sissy. He didn't pay heed to the umpteenth preposterous and unfair criticism he made. Neither did the other players. They wanted to make him shut up, but they kept silent. He finally left without saying goodbye.

When he had finished lacing up his sneakers, Sergio told everybody goodbye and went to his car, in the car park. He was thinking about Cristiano. This situation couldn't continue. There were many problems in the team and Cristiano wasn't responsible for everything that went wrong but he made the situation worsen. He had to pay for what he had done, for his childish behaviour, for his selfishness. Sergio wanted to teach him a lesson he wouldn't forget.

When he finally reached his house, in a well-to-do neighbourhood of Madrid, Sergio smiled. He had found. Cristiano would pay. And he would pay for a long, long time...




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