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Silent derbies

David Bravo



Header Image by Martin Meissner / Pool / AFP via Getty Images

The noisy crowds in derbies will be replaced by silent and empty stands. Fans, as irreplaceable as they are, will have to stay aloof these days.

Lionel Messi’s official debut with Barcelona at the age of 17, against Espanyol. The fateful Catalan Derby for the culés in 2007, a game known as El Tamudazo as a late equaliser from Espanyol’s Raúl Tamudo gave Real Madrid the league title. Wayne Rooney’s bicycle kick against the “noisy neighbours” Manchester City. Mario Balotelli’s famous celebration versus Man United with the ‘Why Always Me?’ shirt. Sergio Ramos’ last-gasp goal to Atlético de Madrid in the 2014 Champions League final.

Derbies are always special. Whether the Barcelona Derby, the Manchester Derby, El Derbi Madrileño, the Basque Derby, the Derby della Madonnina, the Revierderby, the Berlin Derby…Iconic moments and episodes built in the greatest rivalries in the world. The passion, the history, the pride, the honour. But, in particular, if there’s something that makes derbies special, that’s the fans.

Derbies are historic clashes between local clubs, usually from the same city. Therefore, with supporters from two different teams living together, the antagonism gets strengthened on a daily basis. No one wants to lose a derby, for the fear of going to work or school the next day and being a victim of endless jokes and mockery. Victory and defeat, two contrasting feelings that collide when opposing fanbases dwell together.

Borussia Dortmund silent derbies

No, it doesn’t feel the same | Photo by Martin Meissner / Pool / AFP via Getty Images

“What’s indispensable in football? Coaches are not indispensable, it doesn’t matter. The media, it doesn’t matter. The directives, it doesn’t matter. Referees, it doesn’t matter. Spectators, it doesn’t matter. The only irreplaceable thing in football is fans. Football is the people”. Marcelo Bielsa, as always, adding wisdom to football once more. Football without fans is nothing. Money, prestige, fame…But, in the end, football is played for and because of the fans. Football is nothing without them.

However, with the coronavirus, football will have to get used to not directly feeling the warmth of the fans. Noise will be replaced by silence. Pressure, by confusion. Roars, by quiet. Twenty-two men will continue to have the same goal, but football will not be the same without fans.

The Hertha Berlin v Union Berlin was due to be loud. The Olympiastadion was patiently waiting to host the newly-promoted Union Berlin in one of Bundesliga’s most appetising encounters. A duel that transcends football, as politics and history play a big role in a once divided German capital. But, today, the Berlin derby will be mute. Like a week ago with the Revierderby between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04, only players, coaches and some claps, kicks and whistles will be heard. As Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano would say, “there’s nothing more empty than an empty stadium”.

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As someone once said, football is the most important of the least important things in life. Football, though, is a passion lived 24 hours, 7 days a week. My life could not be understood without Barça. Having always lived in Barcelona, the deep love for this club was transmitted to me from before I can remember. With an affection that can be found in my most profound roots, my goal now is to share this admiration with other football enthusiasts.


Lionel Messi’s love for football: Do what you love

Maha Naeem Khan



Photo by Victor Fraile/Getty Images

Continuing with the lessons Lionel Messi has taught, this one is about: Loving what you do, wholeheartedly. Lionel Messi’s love for football shows he doesn’t belong to this planet. He owns what he loves which is a lesson for success for many.

Messi is an epitome of goodness that comes out from his love and passion for the game. The skills he displays on the football field were never displayed before and as per pessimists; might never be showcased in Camp Nou again. He is an ardent performer, a mad-keen footballer, a fervid player, and a zealous sportsman.

Football is deep-rooted in Lionel Andrés Messi. Nothing stopped him from pursuing his dreams and becoming one of the greatest footballers of this era. Do you ever wonder what made him chase his passion vehemently and achieve the goals successfully? The answer to this question is Lionel Messi’s love for football. He loves what he does and owns it candidly giving an important lesson to learn!

“What I do is play soccer, which is what I like.”

– Lionel Messi

When somebody loves what they do, the results are naturally exceptional. Messi, when exhibits his talent on the football pitch, his love for the game can be felt. The way he looks at the ball before scoring a tough goal demonstrates that every ounce of energy left in him will be devoted to this kick: it shows passion, fierceness, and commitment.

Messi’s love for the club

La Pulga’s love is not limited to the game alone, it is profoundly extended to the club he plays for: FC Barcelona. This love is symbiotic. Fc Barcelona is the main character in Messi’s story. Many people believe that Barcelona is nothing without Messi and Messi will be nothing without Barcelona.

Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Lionel Messi’s love for his club and the game made him the backbone of Cules. He worked enthusiastically to polish his skills and lift his team to incomparable greatness and dominance in the footballing world. Barcelona is not just a club for him, it is the platform that brought the best out of him. It is the stage where he performs and displays his supernatural talents. Given the fact that he left his home, his friends, and his country to come to an entirely different place and for the greatest club of that time teaches us a lesson that when you love something devotedly, it will come running to you. After signing his first contract on a used napkin, Barcelona’s number ten never looked back. Over the years, he set a legacy at Camp Nou to be followed for years to come.

A love story to cherish

It is the love for the game as well as for his team that Messi fervently gave all his talents and peak years to FC Barcelona. He is one of the very few footballers who can be labeled as a one-club man. Undeniably, there’s no team in the world that doesn’t want this ‘Alien’ in their team. Various clubs tried to break this inextricable relationship of Messi with Catalans by presenting tempting offers, but love won every time as the captain never for once pay heed to the criticism for wasting his time at Camp Nou whenever the club faced tough times.

Having said this, the unmatchable Leo & Barca love story has all the basic chronicles of an intense love affair; hurt, tragedy, tears, obstacles. Recent times made this love story a bit sour though, leaving the masses to suspect a potential breakup in the coming times. Conversely, keeping in view all that Leo has given up for Barca, fans are hopeful that the club will overlook its bad decisions to create an ideal situation for their talisman to stay. Well, hope is a dangerous thing, the only option for now!

What matters the most is no matter how crucial the circumstances are, the focus of Lionel Messi remains there and is proven in the 2019/2020 season. It was the worst season for the Barcelona star so far thus, the Alien magic still managed to break a couple of records leaving the fans in awe of him! This has been made possible because a thousand words can’t describe Messi’s love and faith in what he does which is why the Spanish dictionary included a new word: “Inmessionante” which means “1. A perfect way to play football, an unlimited capacity for self-improvement. 2. Describes the best player of all time.”


Hence, Lionel Andres Messi teaches all of us another lesson; do what you love having a firm belief in what you and when the circumstances are odd, do it more passionately with some extra love and faith. The world is out there to let us down, but the faith and passion of Lionel Messi is a beam of light for dark paths when the confidence is losing and belief is shaking.

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