2018/19 in Pictures: Games 20, 21 and 22.

As October ends and November begins, I tick off the last Madrid Primera ground missing from my list and then dive back into Segunda B at an old favourite. 

Game 20: Atlético Madrid 2-0 Real Sociedad (Estadio Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid – 27.10.2018)

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At last, the opportunity to see a game at the Wanda under the lights. After Atlético’s rather underwhelming performance against Eibar earlier in the season, I had wondered whether their title hopes were over. Well, as this is no ordinary La Liga season, this game saw them go (temporarily) top of the table.

This was textbook Atlético, doing enough to win comfortably without ever really threatening to hammer inferior opposition. Antoine Griezmann almost opened the scoring with an acrobatic effort, but it took until the dying moments of the half for Atleti to make the breakthrough, Diego Godín popping up with a right-footed opener, his first goal in something like five years that wasn’t a header.

Atleti were lucky to not go down to ten men early in the second half as Godín’s centre back partner Stefan Savic somehow escaped with just a yellow card after a wild challenge on La Real’s Sangalli. Even if they had lost a man, it’s hard to imagine that this soporific Real Sociedad side would have mustered much of a threat.

The game was put beyond doubt on the hour as half time sub Felipe Luis picked up the ball from Saúl and curled in an absolute peach with his right foot. The rest of the game was a procession, with the only real issue in the balance being whether or not Diego Costa could end his inexplicable run of not having scored a La Liga goal since February. Spoiler Alert – he didn’t, although he gave it his best shot and there were a couple of classic Costa moments as he went in search of that elusive goal.

Even the introduction of the one-time saviour of David Moyes at Manchester United, Adnan Januzaj, couldn’t inspire some sort of comeback from the visitors and it was los colchoneros who went home happy.

Game 21: Getafe 2-0 Real Betis (Coliseum Alfonso Perez, Getafe, Madrid – 28.19.2018)

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And so, the last of the Primera and Segunda grounds is ticked off my list (until Rayo Majadahonda move back to their own stadium, but we’ll conveniently forget about that for now) and it was actually a pleasant surprise.

A late night at the Wanda did mean that I wasn’t out in Getafe as early as I had planned to be, but it was good to see that the area around the ground was busy, with plenty of people in the cafés and bars and milling around the front of the stadium. My first concern was to add a Getafe scarf to my collection and then head in. Alas I got caught up in the pre-kick off rush and it was slow progress through the turnstiles and security check. However, as I was simply able to walk around the front of the stand to my seat, I didn’t miss any action, result!

Given both these sides’ poor goalscoring form so far this season, I had legitimate fears about this being my first 0-0 of the campaign. The fact Betis had won in the San Siro against AC Milan on Thursday night did raise my hopes that the old Betis of last season (the good one) had returned, but it was Getafe who made all the running here.

Maybe there was a hangover from their exertions in Milan, but Betis just weren’t at the races. Despite dominating possession, they did little of any consequence with it and somehow even managed to out-foul their hosts, whose physical approach to the game has become legendary.

They could and maybe should have been two goals to the good at half time, but they clinched the victory with two minutes of magic after an hours play. First, Jorge Molina met Angel’s cross with an outstretched boot to make it 1-0 and then, while the home fans were still celebrating, Dmitri Foulquier danced through a static Betis defence and fired home, albeit with the help of a slight deflection off Marc Bartra.

Getafe was one of the real surprises of the season so far! A beautifully sunny day no doubt helped matters and I also found it to be an excellent ground for photography. Needless to say, I’ll be back before the season is out.

Game 22: Fuenlabrada 1-1 Unionistas de Salamanca (Estadio Fernando Torres, Fuenlabrada, Madrid – 4.11.2018)

Back for a third visit (I promise the guide to visiting Fuenla is coming soon!) albeit an unscheduled one. All week I thought I was heading to Villaverde v Rayo B, but a technological emergency (namely a phone which wouldn’t charge) required an early morning visit to the Apple Store in Puerta del Sol.

Considering the late change to my plans, I was a bit less organised than normal and partly thanks to some horrendous luck with malfunctioning ticket machines at Atocha and then a lengthy wait to catch the Metro at Fuenlabrada Central, I missed the beginning of the game. In fact the first thing I saw as I walked into the stand was the visitors scoring.

The relative proximity of Salamanca (I had actually just returned from spending the first part of the weekend there) meant that there was a larger than normal visiting support in attendance and they certainly made themselves heard and contributed to a lively atmosphere. There’s always plenty of noise at Fuenlabrada games and the home fans (and iconic mascot Kiriko/Barry the Chicken) soon had something to cheer about as Cedric headed home the equaliser.

It was an entertaining game, though also rather dirty with a lot of late challenges and off the ball incidents. Surprisingly there were only four bookings, watching the game I was sure there had been at least half a dozen, but the ref seemingly did a good job keeping a lid on things. Fuenla will feel they should have won it, especially given the number of chances they had late on, but they remain right in the hunt for promotion to the Segunda.

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