Monday June 27, 2022

Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid players had to forgo the luxury with which they usually make their prematch arrivals for LaLiga matches on Sunday as they all travelled to the Madrid derby at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium on public buses.

The two squads — as well as coaching staff and security personnel — arrived for one of LaLiga’s most high-profile, fiercely contested fixtures on electric buses provided by the city’s Municipal Transport Company (EMT) as part of its 75th anniversary celebrations.

The 28-seater buses were specially decorated for the occasion, covered with the colours and logos of the two teams, but were otherwise identical to those used by Madrid residents to get around the Spanish capital every day.

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The buses are fully electric with zero carbon emissions and offer free wifi, but otherwise lack the comforts that top players are used to such as reclining seats, drinks refrigerators and tinted windows.

The Real Madrid squad had a 15-minute trip from their Valdebebas training complex on the outskirts of the Spanish capital, travelling five miles south to the Wanda Metropolitano.

Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti, who last week became the first manager to win a title in all of Europe’s top five leagues, clearly enjoyed himself, as he took his place at the front and held on to the safety rail as the bus arrived at the stadium.

Atletico’s journey was even shorter, with their bus completing the three-mile journey from the team’s hotel near Madrid’s Barajas Airport to their home ground in around 10 minutes, arriving at 7.40 p.m. local time ahead of the 9 p.m. kick-off.

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Los Rojiblancos forward Antoine Griezmann looked comfortable boarding his less glamourous prematch ride, perhaps because he was still able to carry his cup of mate on with him.

Atleti defender Sime Vrsaljko, meanwhile, couldn’t hide his excitement about hopping on through the middle doors, without even having to pay the driver.

Unlike most people’s experiences of commuting to work by bus, the two squads were accompanied by a police escort to avoid any traffic jams, delays or potential trouble, and were followed by the teams’ usual coaches, which would be used to collect the players after the match.

Real Madrid’s players have been spending plenty of time on buses lately, with an open-top model carrying them and the LaLiga trophy from the Santiago Bernabeu to the Cibeles fountain, where the club traditionally celebrate title wins, after they beat Espanyol 4-0 to clinch the league title the previous weekend.

Atletico haven’t been able to celebrate winning any silverware this season, but their 1-0 win over their city rivals on Sunday was a big step toward securing a top-four finish that would confirm Champions League qualification for next season.

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