Greetings from Madrid!
The domestic season is nearly over although in Madrid we’ll have the final few weeks of the Tercera relegation group, promotion and relegation to be decided in the lower leagues and a few more weeks of Primera Iberdrola to keep up busy while we wait for the beginning of Euro “2020”.
Then it’s time to start looking forward to the pre-season friendlies!
Where I’ve Been 🗺
A huge month as I actually left Madrid on multiple occasions!
After being more or less confined to the city limits since August last year, I’ve been to three different locations in the Communidad de Madrid and on Saturday just past (29th May) Sarah and I actually ventured to another region, taking a bus down to Castilla La Mancha for a day out in Toledo.
Toledo is a beautiful city and an important historic site since Spain was part of the Roman Empire. It was the capital of the Visigothic kingdom which emerged after the Roman Empire collapsed and it retained strategic importance throughout the period of Islamic rule and the Reconquista period before briefly becoming the capital of the largest empire on earth under the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.
Our day was mostly spent wandering around the lesser-known parts of the city, and a highlight was discovering the Church of San Ildefonso which boasts a superb view of the city skyline (including the Alcazar and cathedral) from its twin bell towers.
Football took me to a lot of different places, the outskirts of Alcalá de Henares, beautifully sunny Aranjuez, a very grey Colmenar Viejo and finally, on Sunday night, back to Leganés for the Copa de la Reina Final between Barcelona and Levante.
Game of the Month ⚽️
May was a productive month on the football front. I managed to take in six matches and in the process, spent more on tickets than I’d done in the whole of 2021 up to now.
I really enjoyed going back to Atlético Madrid’s Ciudad Deportiva in Alcalá de Henares to watch the women’s team, 15 months after my previous visit, even though the game was a 0-0 draw.
Eleven minutes of stoppage time were added on as a result of a head injury to Rayo Vallecano’s goalkeeper and as a result, I only just about managed to catch my bus back to the city!
But my trip to Aranjuez was a real game of the season contender!
Visitors CD Paracuellos Antamira took a first half lead, but Real Aranjuez turned things around to lead shortly after the hour mark. But unfortunately for them, they lost their heads and had a player sent off either side of Paracuellos’ spectacular equaliser.
And then, just as the game looked to be heading for a draw, they conceded a penalty in injury time. The referee won’t be getting many Christmas cards from Aranjuez this year, but Paracuellos didn’t really care as they scored from the spot to all but secure their Tercera status for another year.
And it would be remiss of me to not mention the Copa de la Reina Final which saw Barcelona Femení complete a historic Treble by beating Levante 4-2.
After a completely dominant first half where they went 3-0 up, Barça were rocked by a couple of quick Levante goals after the break and they were close to an equaliser before player of the match Alexia Putellas scored her second of the game to finally put the result beyond doubt.
Most Popular Post 💻
The Spanish Football Club Himnos post just keeps on going! After shooting to the top of April’s rankings, it held its position throughout May. Once again, I take no responsibility for the songs getting stuck in your head.
Also bringing in lots of traffic was my look back at the TV intros used by BBC and ITV in their Euros coverage originally published last summer, but with the rescheduled tournament imminent, now more relevant than ever!
Sadly I won’t be at the tournament in person this year, but I will update the post with the latest offerings as soon as both are available.
Book of the Month 📚
As I said last month, I started off the month reading Chris Lee’s Origin Stories, which details the beginnings of football in various countries around the world.
It was a perfect commuting read, each chapter is short and self-contained so it’s easy to dip in and out of. I was familiar with a lot of the stories because they are things Chris has already covered on his excellent podcast or I’ve read other books on the matter, but I still learned a lot.
Also, it was really nice to actually read a physical book for once. English books are expensive to buy here in Spain and my lengthy enforced absence from home has denied me access to the packed shelves in my old bedroom. So many thanks to Chris for sending a complimentary copy as thanks for me helping him out with some quotes about Recre for the chapter about Spain.
After that, seeking to get more into the summer tournament mood, I moved on to Euro Summits by Jonathan O’Brien. It’s an exhaustive, game-by-game record of the history of every European Championship from the first four-team tournament held in France in 1960 up to the 2016 edition which had expanded all the way up to 24 teams with very mixed results.
It contains a lot of great stories from the tournament’s history and as it features the venues, line-ups, goal scorers, recipients of red and yellow cards and even the referees from every tournament game, it’s a treasure trove of Euros trivia which I’ll undoubtedly bore my friends and family with over the next few weeks.
What’s Up Next?
It’s June, it’s an international tournament year and I’m looking for a Euro “2020” wall chart which I can fill in.
I love international tournaments (even though that’s definitely an uncool opinion in these days where club football dominates everything) and I’m still looking forward to the Euros in spite of the absence of Northern Ireland and the fact I’m not going to any games this time.
I do slightly worry that the quality of the football will suffer due to the compressed schedule of this season and high levels of burnout.
Watching tournaments in Spain has always been a bit strange for me. In 2014, they went out so quickly that no one really had any time to get excited about the World Cup, while in 2016 and 2018 they were really uninspiring so the public attitude was pretty much ‘meh’. I’m not sure what’s going to happen this time round, they have an easy enough group, but Luis Enrique’s squad doesn’t look all that strong and the total absence of Real Madrid representation (a first in the modern era) won’t really please a lot of people in the capital.
When I’m not watching the Euros, I will be going to a couple more matches in and around Madrid – I’ve already picked my schedule for the last couple of weeks of the season – before I take some time off and write my now-traditional end-of-season awards post!
Until next time,
All the best,