MADRID — Outside City Hall late Saturday night, a man is on his knees, hands over his face, head pointed toward the sky as if in prayer. The screaming fans running past barely notice. They’ve got enough to think about. Real Madrid has won the championship in one of the most unexpected and anticipated contests ever between this city’s greatest rivals.
The party, which began hours earlier, shows no sign of stopping. “My family, my family,” the man on his knees repeats. “Congratulations, my family.”
Hours earlier, the battle lines were drawn. On every street and in every bar near the Plaza Mayor, the solid white of powerhouse Real Madrid can be seen alongside the striped uniforms of their scrappy, underdog neighbors Atlético Madrid.
In downtown Madrid, the whites drown out the stripes. Atlético’s core is concentrated in the more blue-collar neighborhoods of southwest Madrid. Their fans know this is a rare opportunity. Real Madrid has won 10 United European Football Association championships and has a 220 million euros, or almost $300 million, payroll. Atlético’s never won and keeps its payroll under 75 million euros, or just over $100 million.
This is just the team’s second trip to the finals.
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