The Champions League anthem is not playing. It's not the Bernabeu and they don't come to see Benzema or Vinicius. But in their hands is the qualification for the Champions League final of one of the 19 teams that are presented to the contest.

It's the Champions League, yes. But of hamburgers. A tournament that is played by several cities in Spain and that after passing through Castellón and Alicante, arrives at the fairgrounds of Las Rozas until Sunday, April 23.

From here will come one more representative, who will join 24 others, in the grand final to be held at the Levante stadium and will also have the presence of several European foodtrucks.

The public will be in charge of choosing the winner in a vote that closes on Saturday 22 at midnight. "The bread, the meat, the originality, the presentation and the combination of ingredients are the criteria that the public can vote for," explains José Morales, one of the organizers of the event. The sum of all will give the winner.

All foodtrucks must have a physical restaurant to participate and have been previously selected by the organization with the advice of chefs and influencers. Among the 19, from all over Spain, there are four from Madrid: BDP, El Rancho de Santa África, El Toril and Williamsburg.

All burgers cost the same: 12 euros. Javier Barbancho

The aspiring champions participate with only one hamburger, selected from the menu of their restaurants or created ad-hoc for the event. And all with the same price: € 12. "So everyone plays with the same conditions," they explain from the organization.

The four Madrid representatives agree that the key point to win is meat. "We chop it and roll our wagyu meat every day," explains Miguel Ángel Montoro, from El Rancho de Santa África. In BDP, for example, they use beef from Avila matured 60 days, in Williamsburg meat matured 45 days and in El Toril 180 grams of meat marinated in Bourbon.

In other cities the meat is taken a little more done. However, most of the more than 80,000 Madrilenians who have passed through here for the moment, according to the chefs, like little done. "This allows you to appreciate the meat more," says Stefano Marcolli, from El Toril.

Cooking in the food truck instead of the restaurant has its peculiarities. Some have had to replace their classic bacon with a jam of this ingredient. It is not feasible to do enough on the grill to supply the more than 600 hamburgers a day that each restaurant makes.

"People have become increasingly demanding testing," they explain from the organization. And that is seen in the quality of the meats and in the complements with which they try to "create a rollercoaster of emotions", as Jota, one of the partners of Williamsburg, acknowledges.

Others, like El Rancho, have had to modify their bread recipe. "We have changed the formula to adapt it to the environment," they say. "If you have a bad bread, the hamburger makes you a ball," says Montoro.

Each restaurant can make hundreds of burgers a day. Javier Barbancho

The complements are another part in which they pay special attention because it is one of the key points when collecting the valuation of customers. In El Toril, for example, they ensure that they are well integrated. "Everything that goes on the plate has to be felt on the palate," explains Marcolli.

In Williamsburg they have gone a step further and have replaced the traditional hamburger bun with two glazed doughnuts: "We didn't want to do the same thing as everyone else," explains Jota.

Winning this contest is not just an image boost. It can also mean economic growth and a boost to the restaurant's income statement. "It's a bombshell," says Marcolli.

Going to the final and winning it, can mean "advancing the natural growth of the place by one year," says Pedro Francés, from BDP, who has brought his Primigenia burger to Las Rozas, a tribute to the bite of a lifetime. For Jota, for example, it would be acknowledging "that crazy people are sometimes right."

Despite being in Madrid, the local teams do not start with an advantage. "Playing at home is a disadvantage," says Francés. "People who come here want to try things from other cities," he adds.

Winning the prize is a complicated task. As in the Champions League, there is consensus that the favorites are Jenkin's, winners of the previous edition, and Soul. Diego Esteban, of Jenkin's, rejects favoritism: "We go with the same respect as last year."

But as Marcolli says, the "game is not over until the referee whistles". Who knows if maybe there will be a last-minute burger in the purest Sergio Ramos style.

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