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About the book
  • Published: 15 August 2014
  • ISBN: 9780224091800
  • Imprint: Yellow Jersey
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 448
  • RRP: $27.99

Fear and Loathing in La Liga

Barcelona vs Real Madrid

An examination of football's greatest rivalry between Barcelona and Real Madrid by the top Spanish football expert and historian Sid Lowe

If Barcelona didn't exist, we'd have to invent them' Florentino Pérez, Real Madrid President

'Catalonia is a nation and Barça its army' Bobby Robson, former manager of Barcelona

It's Messi vs. Ronaldo, It's Guardiola vs. Mourinho. It's the nation against the state, freedom fighters vs. Franco's fascists. It's majestic goals and mesmerising skills, red cards and bench brawls. It's the best two teams on the planet going face to face and toe to toe. It's the greatest of our time vs. the greatest of all time. It's more than a game. It's a war. It's Barcelona vs. Real Madrid. It's El Clásico.

...Only, it's not quite that simple. From the wounds left by the Civil War to the teams' current global domination, Spanish football expert and historian Sid Lowe lifts the lid on football's biggest rivalry. With exclusive testimonies and astonishing anecdotes, Lowe invites us to take a closer look at the most important eras of this unique hostility including Madrid's golden age in the fifties where they won five European cups, Johan Cruyff's Barcelona Dream Team, the doomed Galactico experiment and Luis Figo's 'betrayal'.

By exploring the history, politics, culture, economics and language, while never forgetting the drama on the pitch, Lowe demonstrates the symbiotic nature of the relationship between these two football giants. In doing so he reveals the truth behind this explosive rivalry.

  • Pub date: 15 August 2014
  • ISBN: 9780224091800
  • Imprint: Yellow Jersey
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 448
  • RRP: $27.99

Praise for Fear and Loathing in La Liga

“One of the year’s best football books … an extremely well-informed and usefully myth-busting portrait”



Sunday Independent

“Sports Book of the Year”

Sunday Times

“Football Books of the Year: Sid Lowe isn’t an ordinary football writer and, as a result, this is not an ordinary football book. Lowe paces it all so well ... like an engaging lesson from your favourite teacher”

Daily Mirror

“A revelation. Anyone interested in Spain's two biggest teams can learn something new from this labour of love ... tackling tricky subjects with skill and weaving them into an engaging story. For that, this book stands out from the rest.”


“Lowe is a man with deep knowledge. He is a proper researcher. His list of interviewees – from Di Stéfano to Beckham – is a Who's Who of six decades of football. And his re-runs of past epic matches make you seek out grainy YouTube videos.”


“Utterly brilliant”

Henry Winter, @henrywinter

“Utterly brilliant”

Henry Winter, @henrywinter

“A history of modern Spain told through one of world football's most intense rivalries. It conjures up the complex passions of a country whose national team has become not only the best in the world at present, but, some say, the best ever”

Chris Maume, Independent

“Like so many of Spain's deep rifts, the enmity stems from the civil war. Barcelona represent the losers, democrats, Catalonia. Real Madrid represent the victors, repressors, Spain. Lowe's detailed study shows that the caricature is simplistic but not entirely incorrect”

Nick Pitt, The Sunday Times

“A work of profound research and stimulating discoveries… Lowe has done El Clasico a service by defining its history”

Hugh MacDonald, Herald

“Lowe's impressive list of interviewees includes Alfredi di Stéfano, Johan Cruyff, Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane and Andrés Iniesta. …There are also neat mentions of Barça's (unwitting) role in the murder of Leon Trotsky, as well as Madrid’s links to the Beatles in the 1960s and Pedro Almodovar in the 1980s”

Dermot Corrigan, When Saturday Comes

“Far more than simply Messi vs Ronaldo, the rivalry between two of the most colossal teams in football, as unfolded in this excellent history, pitches Catalonia against Spain, Franco against the republic, north versus south, and so much more”

Latest 7

“A truly outstanding account of an intense football rivalry which exists between Barcelona and Real Madrid”

Oldham Evening Chronicle

“An extremely well-informed and usefully myth-busting portrait of the long rivalry between Barcelona and Real Madrid”

Richard Williams, Guardian Online

“Fascinating... This one ought not to be missed”


“Much more than the story of two men or two teams or even a game. Barcelona v Real Madrid is one of the greatest rivalries in modern football and this is its forensic history”

RTE Guide

“Turns much of the accepted wisdom about the rivalry on its head”

Robert O'Shea, Evening Echo

“A well-informed, myth-busting history of modern Spain told through one of the world’s most intense football rivalries”


“Rich, engrossing book”

Michael Walker, Irish Times

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