Downtown Disney hosts historic El Clásico viewing party

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Hundreds of fans inside the Downtown Disney District were treated to a first-of-its-kind showing of El Clásico.

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Rivals Real Madrid and Barcelona have each made history plenty of times, especially in Spain and throughout Europe. But on sunny afternoon in Orange County, California, history was being made as the rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona took center stage in an unprecedented location.

For the first time, thanks to an exclusive collaboration between La Liga, ESPN, and the iconic Disneyland Resort, an official viewing experience for El Clasico, one of the biggest rivalries in the world, was held in the Downtown Disney District. 

The experience included live segments in English and Spanish in front of a live audience, broadcasted from Downtown Disney. Programs included ESPN’s Sportscenter, Fuera De Juego and ESPNFC, before and after the match. 

Several legends of the rivalry were in attendance including Real Madrid legends, former goalkeeper and World Cup winner with Spain, Iker Casillas and legendary Mexican striker Hugo Sanchez, Barcelona striker Patrick Kluivert was representing the other side of El Clasico. 

Along with the TV tapings and appearances from legends of the game, the several hundred fans in attendance partook in several events and giveaways on the lawn near the stage, which included free soccer balls, towels, face-painting and games for all.

Meanwhile at Splitsville Luxury Lanes, the bowling alley inside Disney’s Downtown District, hundreds of more fans packed both floors of the venue for a VIP viewing experience.

Once the match started, fans inside began to bring the energy as if the action wasn’t happening nearly 6,000 miles away. 

Andreas Christensen’s opening goal in the sixth silenced the Madrid supporters, who outnumbered the Barcelona supporters at the experience, but they wouldn’t stay quiet for long. 

Vinicius Junior’s equalizer in the 18th was met with much fanfare inside Splitsville.

10 minutes later, the match was paused as the VAR tried to determine whether Lamine Yamal’s shot had crossed the goal line, but it couldn’t find a clear camera angle and the decision was not to award a goal, much to the dismay of the Barcelona fans at hand.

It is worth noting, La Liga does not use the goal line technology used by FIFA and other top European leagues.

The two clubs went into the break tied 1-1 at the Bernabeu, in California, a couple of lucky fans at Splitsville came away with signed Barcelona and Real Madrid jerseys by the legends in attendance as part of a halftime raffle.

Both clubs would each add a goal in the second half, in the same order as the first, with Barcelona’s Fermin Lopez making the score 2-1. 

Barcelona would stay ahead for just four minutes before Lucas Vázquez would even the score again, 2-2, in the 73rd.

As regulation winded down, it looked like a 2-2 draw was imminent. 

Enter Jude Bellingham.

The 20-year old striker’s dagger in stoppage time was felt across the globe, but the Madristas in Anaheim made their presence felt throughout and ended the party singing on their way out.