It is 5 p.m. Sunday, and Yatsuney Perez is where he always is when Real Madrid plays a televised soccer match — at the Bru’s Room Sports Grill on Bird Road in Miami, wearing his beloved team’s white jersey and scarf, cheering alongside other members of the Peña Madridista Sur de Florida (the Official Real Madrid Fan Club of South Florida).
Perez, a 37-year-old truck driver and president of the 3-year-old club, never imagined it would grow to 1,000 members, that crowds of hundreds would show up for watch parties, or that one day the star-studded Madrid team would come to Hard Rock Stadium to face bitter rival FC Barcelona in El Clasico Miami — the teams’ first meeting on U.S. soil and second in history away from Spain.
Tens of thousands of fans will descend on Miami this week for Saturday’s clash of the Spanish powers and a Wednesday match between French team Paris Saint-Germain and Italian giant Juventus. They will be coming from as far away as Australia, New Zealand, Israel, China and Saudi Arabia. Perez is acting as host for the other 11 official U.S. Real Madrid peñas.
The fan clubs of New York, New Jersey, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Southern California, Chicago, Boston and Washington, D.C. have members flying in. More than 1,200 of them are expected at a private pre-game party Friday night, and they’ll…