In Leganés Dreams Come True

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If their marketing slogan says so, it must be true!

En Leganés los sueños se cumplen- In Leganés, dreams come true – is the slogan that adorns one of the main entrances to Leganés’ Estadio Municipal de Butarque. While I’m not sure this is true, I certainly enjoyed my first trip there for the match with Rayo Vallecano back at the start of October.

Also in Leganés, your dreams are finger-lickin’ good!

CD Leganés existed in relative obscurity for most of their 90-year history, only reaching the Segunda Division for the first time in 1993. A young Samuel Eto’o briefly wore their blue and white stripes during a spell on loan from Real Madrid in the late 1990’s, but it was with their promotion to La Liga for the first time in 2016 that they came to most people’s attention. Suddenly they were rubbing shoulders with Real Madrid and Barcelona et al and they’ve managed to stay there ever since.

Early on this season they struggled for points, yet managed to record their first victory against the odds by shocking previously-unbeaten Barcelona in their previous home game. Despite this, surely their greatest achievement of the season so far was the introduction of their mascot, Super Pepino.

Of course a team nicknamed los pepineros (The Cucumber Growers) would have a giant anthropomorphic cucumber crossed with a Ninja Turtle as a mascot. He’s already acquired quite the cult following online, so I decided that a vital part of any visit to Leganés would be to get a photo with him.

Buying Tickets

Because of the relatively small capacity of the stadium (12,450) it is possible that Leganés may sell out for some bigger games. I thought this might be one such occasion as it was a local derby and there was always the possibility of the crowd being boosted by Rayo Vallecano fans buying tickets for the home end. In addition, for this match, they were also running a promotion which entitled season ticket holders to bring a friend for free.

Tickets were put on general sale online on the Tuesday before the game, despite the club website having previously stated Monday. Prior to that, all that was available were VIP tickets, which for this game started at €90 and went up to being able to book a private box for 16 people for €1,300.

I was fixing my eyes on a rather more affordable evening, eventually selecting a seat in the lateral section for €25. Behind the goals is cheaper at €20 and the tribuna on the opposite side cost €30 for the lower tier and €35 for the upper tier.

Prices will of course vary dramatically depending on the opposition. Regular tickets for their victory over Barça in September cost between €50 and €80. Not as steep as say, El Clásico or the Madrid derby, but still a significant increase. Not that a long-suffering Leganés fan probably cared too much in the aftermath of such a historic victory.

Getting There

By far the easiest way of getting to the ground is the Cercanias train network. Head to Atocha and get on Line C5 heading for Humanes/Fuenlabrada and get off at Zarzaquemada (the sixth stop) as it is slightly closer than the station in central Leganés. The return journey is only €3,70.

Once you arrive at Zarzaquemada, it’s about a 10-15 minute walk. The floodlights were visible to me almost as soon as I left the station.

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The walk to Butarque

Don’t go there on the Metro! It’s 14 stops on the Metro from Puerta del Sol to Leganés Central and you’ll need to change lines twice along the way and you’ll have further to walk when you get there.

Around the Ground

In truth there’s not an awful lot to do in the immediate vicinity of the ground. A supermarket and a large retail park are the only other developments of any consequence.

If you do arrive with plenty of time to spare, I can recommend paying a visit to Casa Dani – across the way from Zarazaquemada station. It’s small but cosy and you get a tapa with your drink.

On this occasion, I found the best thing to do in the hour or so I had to spare before kick off was visit the club shop and add to my ever-increasing collection of scarves and then head indoors to the excellent bar on my side of the ground. There I was able to watch the second half of Real Madrid’s shock defeat by Alavés and also check out the old team photos and merchandise which adorn the walls.

It wasn’t too busy, and although it was standing only, it was a good spot to spend a bit of time before kick off. And then head back there at half time because it’s in the bar that they sell the legendary bocatas de lomo. The kiosks outside only sell, as they say here, ‘cold sandwiches’, so if you want something to warm you up a bit this is where you should go. Believe me, it’s worth waiting in the queue for a while.

The sandwich and a drink cost me €7 together, so while it isn’t cheap, it’s definitely better than paying around the same (or more) for one of the horrible, processed hot dogs that pass for half time snacks at lots of other La Liga grounds.

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La bocata se come en el descanso

Before Kick Off

So after the Alavés-Real Madrid match finished, I headed out into the stand to find my seat. Down in the front row of the stand, positioned close to the halfway line, I had a great view of the action that was about to unfold.

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And happily, there was just enough time before the match started for me to meet the already-legendary Super Pepino as he travelled around the ground.

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And no, I wasn’t the only adult who wanted a picture with him. Honestly, I wasn’t.

The Match

Although enjoyable enough, the match won’t go down as any sort of classic. It was pretty much what you’d expect from a derby match between two struggling teams: feisty, committed and occasionally lacking in the highest quality. Leganés won’t complain too much though, their win was their first ever in a Madrid derby in the Primera and it lifted them off the bottom of the table.

The only goal of the game came quite early on, Guido Carillo finishing off a cross from Michael Santos in the 14th minute. Rayo didn’t offer too much in response. Gael Kakuta, so dynamic when I saw them play Alavés, was ineffectual and the less said about Bebé (yes, that one!) on the other wing, the better.

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Bebé. Not one of his better showings.

Something else which should be added is that both team’s kits are outstanding. Lega in their blue and white stripes of varying thickness recalling a classic Coleraine kit of yesteryear (yeah, I’m biased) and Rayo’s black away kit complete with traditional sash and trimmed with gold. I may try to pick one up on my next visit to Vallecas.

Without a doubt, the real stars of the game were the fans crammed into the singing sections behind the goals at each end. I obviously knew about the great atmosphere created by Rayo’s Bukaneros at their home games, but the Leganés fans were a revelation. Both contributed to a great atmosphere throughout the game and despite the pain of defeat, the Rayo fans were still going strong as I walked away from the ground.

The official highlights of the game can be found here.

Final Thoughts

Would I recommend a visit to Leganés? Definitely!

It’s not too far out of the city centre, tickets are cheap compared to other Madrid sides and are easily obtained online, you may just have to wait a bit for them to actually be available! The fact the ground is so small really adds to the atmosphere, it’s not just the ultras behind the goal, everyone gets in on the action when it comes to the singing. And most of the songs are more or less the same as at other Spanish grounds, so just substitute ‘Leganés’ for another team’s name and you’re good to go. Or you can always just ‘lololololo’ your way through.

I’ll definitely be back soon, just writing this has got me craving another bocata de lomo!

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