2018/19 in Pictures: Games 50, 51 and 52

The Spanish domestic season is racing towards its conclusion, so of course I’m going along for the ride.

Game 50: Leganés 0-0 Celta Vigo (Estadio Municipal de Butarque, Leganés, Madrid – 27.4.2019)

Well, this was forgettable. On paper it seemed like it could be a classic, Leganés still not completely safe, Celta needing points to pull themselves away from danger. But it just never got going.

It was a beautiful day in Leganés, I spent part of the afternoon having lunch in the city centre, the first time I’d actually visited there rather than getting off the Cercanias at Zarzaquemada, before walking up to the ground.

The first half was a bit of a damp squib, but came to life with a few chances in the final ten minutes and a bit of a sideline scuffle provoked by a late tackle from Leganés’ Recio on Hugo Mallo.

The best chance of the entire game came on 66 minutes when Iago Aspas beat Pichu Cuellar to the ball and knocked it goalwards as the two collided, only for a brilliant clearance from Kenneth Omeruo to keep it from crossing the line and keep the scores level.

Both teams seemed fairly content with a point apiece and that’s how it finished. A third 0-0 of the season for me and probably one of the least memorable games I’ve seen.

Game 51: Villaverde-San Andrés 1-0 Santa Ana (Estadio Boetticher, Madrid – 1.5.2019)

The May Day public holiday meant some lower league matches being moved from the weekend so it was off to Villaverde again for an early kick-off in the Tercera.

A great morning weather-wise brought out a decent crowd for a game that effectively had nothing riding on it – both sides are mid-table, safe from relegation but unable to reach the promotion play-offs – and both played with a freedom that showed that.

It was an open and entertaining enough game, eventually settled by a goal from Villaverde’s Alberto Bustarviejo with some great saves at the other end helping keep ‘Botti’ in front after they went down to ten and later nine men, first through a straight red for a professional foul, then a second yellow card in the closing stages.

The on-pitch action did play second fiddle to meeting up with a few other Madrid-based groundhoppers and sharing stories about the season. A very enjoyable morning out and somewhere I plan on returning to in the future.

Game 52: Atlético Madrid 1-1 Sevilla (Estadio Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid – 12.5.2019)

The day the Atlético Madrid faithful said goodbye to club legend Diego Godín and the day Sevilla pretty much said goodbye to their chances of Champions League football next season.

There was a very end-of-season feel about the game. Atlético’s season has been effectively over since their Champions League elimination by Juventus and although Sevilla were still in with a shout of qualifying for European football’s top competition, the way they played suggested that even they didn’t have much confidence in their ability.

Atleti had several chances before they made the breakthrough, Koke’s heavily deflected strike deceiving Vaclik after 30 minutes. It genuinely did feel like it was just a matter of how many the hosts would win by. Sub Angel Correa did put the ball in the net with a lovely finish just after the hour, but it was ruled out after a very late offside flag.

Out of nowhere, Sevilla equalised on 70 minutes, Franco Vazquez’s cross picking out the completely unmarked Pablo Sarabia who had plenty of time to pick his spot and beat Oblak. Sarabia almost completed the turnaround a few minutes later as Sevilla cut Atlético apart on the break but his shot just missed the target.

After that the game somewhat fizzled out to a draw as attentions turned to the big farewell to Godín. Standing in front of the trophies he won as an Atlético player and watching a video of career highlights on the big screens, he was clearly emotional as he said his goodbyes. Within a couple of days of the game it was also announced that Juanfran had played his last home game for the club, with Felipe Luis likely to follow suit. Truly the end of an era.

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