Book Review: Fear and Loathing in La Liga by Sid Lowe

It’s one of the most popular books about football – and for a good reason! Sid Lowe’s Fear and Loathing in La Liga deserves all the praise it gets, and a whole lot more.

For those that don’t know, the book analyzes the full history of the rivalry between Barcelona and Real Madrid. It’s one of the best books out there, not just about football, but about sports in general.

Simple beginnings

Most books of this type – the ones that research the history of a club/rivalry – often fall into trap of detailing the earliest beginnings almost too much. In all honesty, readers don’t care to know too much of those things as they’re easily forgotten. This is where Fear and Loathing in La Liga shines because the beginnings are detailed enough for the reader to understand and remember easily, yet simple enough so that you’re not overcrowded with information.

An objective point of view

If you hear Lowe talking about his allegiance in El Clasico, he always claims that he doesn’t take sides and that Oviedo is his only Spanish club. You’d think he’s just careful about his public image… that is until you read this book. Considering that I’m a Barca fan myself, I am biased about the rivalry. However, there wasn’t a single hint of bias in the book. Lowe investigates every myth of the El Clasico rivalry and debunks it to the core, all the while leaving space for subjective interpretation, too.

It’s not even that Lowe tries to force his opinion on you, but the book lays all out all facts surrounding a myth, leaving it for you to decide your opinion. Whether it’s the Franco debate, the government’s influence on Di Stefano transfer, or Guruceta, you’ll get nothing but facts and witnesses talking about the events of their time.

Incredible research

I’ve read quite a few books surrounding football, but none comes close to the in-depth research of this one. Lowe’s years of experience in Spain granted him access and interviews with some of the biggest names in the sport. So, don’t be surprised when you see him quoting his own interview with Di Stefano – it’s the standard of the book.

What makes this book unique isn’t just laying out the chronological history of the rivalry. It’s more about countless funny anecdotes, constant Spanish newspaper over the top headlines, and the political climate during the years.

Just the fact that one of the most knowledgable English-speaking La Liga correspondents took two years to complete this book speaks volumes.

The only unusual part was skimming past Ronaldo’s 1996/97 season in Barcelona. It’s only surprising due to the fact that Lowe himself often speaks about that season as the best individual season he’s ever witnessed.


La Liga fan or not – everyone slightly interested in football should read this book. It’s top-notch quality and you’ll come out feeling well-equipped to talk about anything El Clasico-related.