Every team marks certain games on the calendar when it comes out and continental giant Real Madrid is not an exception. Real Madrid fans have plenty of options to choose from – two of the longest continental battles in basketball, a local hero coming home, a reminder of an epic playoff series that became an instant classic, and of course, the mother of all games against its archrival.
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ROUND 1: blast from the recent past
Even though Real and Efes have been in the European basketball elite for decades, their rivalry opened a new, wonderful chapter last season with one of the best and most interesting playoff series in EuroLeague history. Efes dominated in the first two games and when the sweep was almost certain, leading 61-74 with 5 minutes left in Game 3, Real fought back. Los Blancos rallied to win Games 3 and 4. Then Game 5 came down to small details. It was a series to remember. Now they meet again.
ROUND 12: Laso comes home
Traveling back to Vitoria-Gasteiz is always special for Real head coach Pablo Laso. He was born there and played for Baskonia from 1985 to 1995. Laso helped Baskonia win its first titles, the 1995 Spanish Copa del Rey and the 1997 Cup Winners’ Cup, and started a career that led him to become the Spanish League’s all-time leader in assists (2,879) and steals (1,219). It should not be easy, of course – Baskonia has beaten Real in three of their last four EuroLeague games at Buesa Arena.
ROUND 13: Tradition and respect
It is the most repeated matchup in European competitions. Real and Maccabi have faced each other 62 times – and counting. Their 50th showdown was the 2014 EuroLeague championship game, in which Maccabi prevailed in overtime. Almost 25 years earlier, Real defeated Maccabi in the 1980 EuroLeague final. It is only logical that two of the winningest squads in basketball have great institutional respect for each other. Legendary games have been played and sportsmanship is always top-class when it comes to these two magnificent clubs.
ROUND 17: Same old-school rivalry
The basketball rivalry between these teams goes back almost 60 years and crossed political barriers: Real was the first Spanish team to visit Moscow in 1963, days before CSKA was the first Russian squad to set foot in the Spanish capital. They then faced each other in the 1963, 1964 and 1969 EuroLeague finals. More recently, Real bested CSKA in the 2018 EuroLeague semifinals and the Russian powerhouse returned the favor in 2019. These teams combine for 18 EuroLeague crowns.
ROUND 26: ‘El Clasico’ in Madrid
The first El Clásico of any EuroLeague season is always a highly-anticipated showdown. Last season, Barcelona won the Spanish League and Cup double and beat Real twice in EuroLeague action. Real fans should be looking forward to the Clasico at WiZink Center where Los Blancos will try to reverse the current trend – Real had won five consecutive EuroLeague Clasicos but lost the last three. All-EuroLeague forward Nikola Mirotic started his career in Madrid and now leads Barcelona, which adds even more interest to this always-exciting basketball battle.
Seen at: Euroleague.net