This Afternoon, It All Kicks Off

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Update: Barcelona won, but not without controversy.

At 2:45 PM on the U.S.’s eastern seaboard, a soccer game across the pond in Barcelona will kick off between two of the sport’s most legendary teams, Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. It’s a rivalry steeped in deep historical enmity, oozing glamor and bling, and currently in full heat, with the teams having squared off in an unprecedented four games in various competitions over the past fortnight. Here’s the opening of a terrific piece in Slate to whet your appetite:

Real Madrid and F.C. Barcelona feature some of the best soccer players on earth, are the world’s two richest clubs, embody drastically opposed philosophies of the game, have combined to win more than 140 trophies, and share a complex, antagonistic history that ties their rivalry inescapably to the Spanish Civil War. (Fascists kidnapped and executed Barcelona’s club president in 1936; the Franco regime used Madrid as a symbol of Spanish nationalism.) Any game between these two clubs is a big deal. Four Clásicos in 18 days is, in the soccer universe, a quasar.