As the 2020/21 La Liga season comes to a nail-biting finish with either Real Madrid or Atletico Madrid set to win the title – fans of both teams are hoping to celebrate in their “home” fountain of Cibeles or Neptuno in the centre of Madrid.
Athletico hold a two point lead over current holders, Real Madrid, and need to win their final game – away – against 19th placed Valladolid, next Sunday 23rd May, to be guaranteed the title.
Real Madrid host 7th placed Villareal on the same day, and need to win – as well as for Athletico to lose, to win the league.
Traditionally Real Madrid supporters celebrate at the Cibeles fountain, while Atletico´s head to Neptuno – just a hundred or so meters away on the Paseo de Prado.
However it wasnt always so – the first takers of the Cibeles fountain were in fact Atletico fans, celebrating their 50th anniversary in 1953.
After a series of commemorative matches – including one with Athletic Bilbao (the Basque team had been founded in 1898 and who were also the founders of Atletico, as a Madrid “branch” for Basque players in the capital) was held and the celebratory trophy had as its centre piece of Cibeles on her chariot – the ancient Greek god of mother earth.
In 1962, following their teams 3 – 0 victory over Italian side, Fiorentina, in the European Cup Winners Cup final, fans ended up celebrating in the fountain.
Athletico´s then headquarters was situated on nearby Calle Barquillo, hence the temptation to head down Alcala for a dip in the fountain – which they did in their thousands.
However the tradition didnt take root – Athletico reached the European final again the following year, but lost to English side, Spurs.
Atletico´s won La Liga in 1966/67 ( after coming second in 1957/58, 1960/61, 1962/63 and 1964/65 to Real Madrid) and a string of titles followed with celebrations culminating in the Neptuno fountain in the 1970s.
In 1977, Real Madrid celebrated its 75th anniversary, with the then Mayor of Madrid, Juan de Arespacochaga (in whose government was a young politician called Florentino Perez) who gave the team a celebratory trophy with Neptune, Roman God of the Sea, as its centre piece.
However it was Real Madrid´s dominance in the 1980s & 90s, whose Vulture’s Cohort made them one of the most feared sides in football, which saw the Cibeles become a sea of white and blue, as Real supporters celebrated a string of domestic and international titles, with convoys of hooting cars from the Santiago Bernabeu culminating in the Cibeles fountain.
Atletico fans distanced themselves from the monument by celebrating their wins in nearby Neptuno; having their first chance to christen the fountain in the teams red and white “rojiblanco” colours in 1991 with their Copa de Rey win over Mallorca.
The 2020/21 Season is the first since 1966/67 that the two Madrid teams will be either winner or runner up.
Since the first Liga in 1929, Real Madrid have won the title 34 times while Atletico Madrid have won it 10 times.