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Yé-yé, La Quinta del Buitre and Los Galácticos: How Real Madrid can dominate Spain and Europe once more


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Real Madrid took Spanish and European football by storm during the 1950s and 1960s. Los Blancos won the first five editions of the European Cup, with a phenomenal strike force spearheaded by Argentinian Alfredo di Stefano, Hungarian Ferenc Puskas and Frenchman Raymond Kopa.

European Cups in 1957 and 1958 were accompanied with La Liga victories. This Real Madrid side was relentless in its attacking play; after all they possessed three of the greatest strikers of all time.

Crucially, the side were captained to the first of their two European Cups by Miguel Munoz and had a young Francisco Gento on the left wing.

As the trio retired, Munoz returned to the Bernabeu as manager and Gento eventually become captain. Gento led a new generation of younger Spanish players including Manuel Sanchis Snr and Pirri. The side was made up of entirely Spanish players. They saw a new era of dominance, winning a sixth European Cup in 1966 and eight La Liga titles in nine years between 1961 and 1969.

They also lifted the Copa Del Rey in 1962. This era is known as the Yé-yé era. Yé-yé was a nickname for Spanish youngsters during the height of Beatlemania. These years were characterised by innocent fun, and Real’s squad embodied this spirit. As di Stefano, Puskas and Kopa left, a new generation of heroes was ready and waiting.

Los Merengues would have to wait till 1998 for a seventh European title.

The next significant era in the club’s history came in the 1980s with the emergence of La Quinta del Buitre (The Vulture Squadron). Led by Emilio Butragueño (El Buitre – The Vulture), who made an instant impact scoring twice and bagging an assist on his debut against Cadiz as Real pulled back from 0-2 down to win 3-2. Butragueño came into a team with patchy form and impressed with strong physical attributes.

He was a poacher and would score 165 goals for the club. He was joined by fellow Real youth stars Manuel Sanchis Jr, Martin Vasquez, Michel and Miguel Pardeza. Winning the second division with the side’s B team in 1984, the quintet were eased into the first team picture by di Stefano.

The youngsters played with high stamina and played a much more physical game; they would match Yé-yé with five consecutive La Liga wins, also winning two consecutive UEFA Cups.

Real’s style of play changed due to the influence of La Quinta del Buitre; the tempo was higher and the play was faster and more aggressive.

However, Johan Cruyff returned to Barcelona in the late 1980s, where he installed a new style of play and system of coaching, which is still in place today.

In 1991, Barcelona won their first La Liga in 14 years and went onto win another three in the following three seasons, with the club’s tika-taka philosophy taking shape.

Butragueño’s place in the team was taken by another graduate of La Fabrica: Raul Gonzalez Blanco would emerge in the late 1990s as a new hero for the club. Finally in 1998, Real beat Juventus in Amsterdam to end a 32-year wait for European glory. A second title followed with victory over Valencia in 2000.

It was then when Florentino Perez beat Lorenzo Sanz to become Real president; the era of Los Galácticos had begun. Domestically, the club’s performance was mixed. La Liga titles were won in 2001 and 2003 and a ninth Champions League won in 2002, but this growth was unsustainable. Barcelona re-emerged post Cruyff with Frank Rijkaard, with Valencia also winning titles in 2002 and 2004.

Perez decided against keeping club legend Vicente Del Bosque and was accused of giving defensive players the cold shoulder. Claude Makelele was not given a pay rise from his relatively low wages, with newly-signed defensive players such as Cicinho, Jonathan Woodgate and Water Samuel flopping. 

The club had a plethora of attacking talent but the squad was unbalanced. Beckham and Figo had to play out of position. Michael Owen wasn’t given a chance. The departures of pre-Galácticos stars such as Redondo, Hierro and McMannaman damaged the club.

Perez signed just one Spanish player: Sergio Ramos from Sevilla, in 2005.

Between 2003 and 2007, Real Madrid did not win a major trophy. Perez resigned and Real won two consecutive titles under Calderon before Perez returned in 2009, heralding the beginning of a second Galácticos era. Success has been limited due to Barcelona’s explosion under Guardiola and the rise of Atletico Madrid as a genuine force.

In the last eight years, Real have won just two La Liga titles (in 2012 and 2017), two Copa del Rey’s, in 2011 (their first since 1993) and 2014, as well as a tenth Champions League in 2014 and an eleventh in 2016.

Real can win a second consecutive Champions League against Juventus. It would only be the third league and European Cup double in the club’s history.

La Quinta del Buitre have come closest to emulating the club’s absolute dominance in Spain and Europe during the 1950s and 1960s. The first Galacticos struggled for consistency after initial success. But now, Real have a chance with a second team of Galacticos to dominate once more.

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This is due to finally finding a balanced style of play that combines the best of La Quinta and Yé-yé. They have foreign and Spanish stars at their disposal, making their strike force electric. Ronaldo, Benzema and Bale could walk into any side in the planet. But at the same time the hard working fast tempo exists with Casemiro a fierce defensive midfielder and Marcelo and Carvajal, two marauding full-backs. Sergio Ramos is captain and he perhaps epitomises this spirit best; he is fierce in the tackle but a silky ball player too.

If Real Madrid can remember to stay true to the cores of both La Quinta del Buitre and Yé-yé, this second Galácticos era may just be able to become the greatest side in the club’s proud history and the White Storm may rage over the skies of Europe for years to come.

Image Credit - Wikipedia Commons 

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