2021/22 in Pictures: Games 3,4 and 5

My first week back in Madrid was pretty busy, but amongst all the unpacking and preparing for going back to work, I managed to fit in return visits to two of my favourite Fútbol Modesto grounds and a big Champions League night at the Wanda Metropolitano!

Game 3️⃣

⚽️ CD Barajas 2-1 Roma CF

🏟 Campo Nuestra Señora de la Soledad, Barajas

🏆 Friendly (Trofeo Nuestra Señora de la Soledad)

📅 11.9.2021

💶 Free!

Having returned to Spain on 7th September, I looked around for any games that were on ahead of the weekend’s league action. But I discovered that teams are surprisingly reluctant to confirm details of kick off times or you know, if the game is actually going ahead or not, on their social media, so I held off until Saturday night to make my return to Spanish football at one of the grounds I enjoyed visiting most last season.

CD Barajas were playing their pre-season friendly trophy against Roma CF, a club based in Vicálvaro who although they feature the iconic image of the wolf and Romulus and Remus on their badge, sadly do not replicate their close namesakes’ iconic giallorossi colours.

I was a little bit late for the 7pm kick off thanks to not remembering exactly how to get to the ground from my previous visit and relying on Google Maps, which rather inconveniently has the ground in the wrong position, thankfully the correct location is just a few minutes down the road and I was able to walk in and join the action, though not before getting a photo of the trophies at stake and what looked like a repurposed version of the Euro 2016 mascot Super Victor.

Super Victor guarding the prizes

The match also served as a tribute match for the retiring Barajas captain, Víctor Pérez Moral, who was subbed off to a standing ovation midway through the first half. The home side were well on top and it seemed like only a matter of time before the goals started flowing.

But Barajas wasted chance after chance and for a while it seemed like the game was destined to end goalless and I was pondering what this meant for the trophies pitchside, would the honours be shared or would we have a penalty shootout? A long-overdue goal for Barajas seemed to have settled that query in my mind, only for the man in charge of the scoreboard to change the score to 1-1. I hadn’t even considered asking about the score upon entering the ground and clearly a few others near me hadn’t either but we were assured that the scoreboard was indeed correct. And Barajas needed another goal to win.

They got it right at the end, sealing a victory that they fully deserved and ensuring that the Trofeo Nuestra Señora de la Soledad stayed at home. The person on the PA for the trophy presentation joked that Víctor would miss playing on the gravel. I’m not entirely convinced he will, but I’ll certainly be going back again to one of the region’s most charming and unique grounds.

Amenities Watch: The on-site bar was open and fairly busy throughout the game. Unfortunately I didn’t have any change with me, so I wasn’t able to buy a drink or purchase one of the scarves that hung behind the bar. All the more reason to go back!

Match Rating: 6/10 – For a friendly, it wasn’t bad entertainment, score confusion aside.

Game 4️⃣

⚽️ Villaverde-San Andrés 1-0 RCD Carabanchel

🏟 Estadio Boetticher, Madrid

🏆 Tercera RFEF, Group 7

📅 12.9.2021

💶 €10

A sunny Sunday morning down in the south of Madrid, great company, cold drinks and, my goodness, Botti won a game!

The end of last season wasn’t exactly great for SAD Villaverde-San Andrés. After defeating Trival Valderas 3-0 on 21st March, they lost every single game they played for the remainder of the season. So how did they manage to remain in the Tercera I hear you ask? Good lawyers! A week after that Trival Valderas game, they lost at CD Móstoles, but appealed the result as the home side had fielded an ineligible player, only to be hit with a similar charge themselves and the end result was that both sides forfeited the game. This didn’t affect Móstoles, who still won promotion to the Segunda RFEF through the end of season play-offs, but Botti were left to battle unsuccessfully against relegation – until an appeal in the summer earned them a reprieve.

The result is that it’s an entirely different Botti that took to the field at the start of the new season – and they notched up an early win in this derby against Carabanchel. After an even enough opening half hour, the first major incident came when Botti forward Timo was brought down on the edge of the box by Cara goalkeeper Figueroa. The visitors contested the decision and play was held up for a few minutes while the replacement goalkeeper was readied – I personally thought the red card was a bit harsh, it looked like he had got to the ball ahead of Timo, but the officials thought differently.

Timo’s involvement in the game’s central drama continued when he put the ball in the net, only to see his celebrations cut short as the goal was ruled out, presumably for a foul, my view wasn’t all that clear.

The man advantage helped Botti control the game and create more chances, but the game remained goalless until 85 minutes when Jaime headed in from Maqueda’s corner to finally break Cara’s resistance and seal Botti’s first win in what felt like forever.

Amenities Watch: The kiosk on the far side was open as usual and was busy throughout the game due to how warm it was. It also provided a bit of valuable shade during the second half. The complimentary bocata at half time was greatly appreciated as well!

Match Rating: 7/10 – An encouraging performance and result for Botti, although the game was conditioned somewhat by the red card.

Game 5️⃣

⚽️ Atlético Madrid 0-0 FC Porto

🏟 Estadio Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid

🏆 UEFA Champions League

📅 15.9.2021

💶 €30

The Chaaaaaaaampionsssssss!

I had originally planned a visit to Colonia Moscardó for the midweek round in the Tercera, but a chance discovery changed that.

While on Atlético Madrid’s website looking for the prices of Atlético Femenino tickets, I discovered, to my surprise, that tickets were still available for their opening Champions League game against FC Porto. I wavered for a while over whether or not to change my plans but eventually decided that, due to my usual work schedule, this was probably my only chance to see a big European game this season. So after a lot of refreshing on Wednesday morning, I eventually managed to secure a ticket for €30.

So, for the first time in almost two years, I travelled out to the Wanda for a match. This was only Atlético’s third game with fans back since their La Liga triumph so the fans outside were definitely enjoying being allowed to see their heroes again. A large crowd had gathered outside Gate 40 (marked by a huge image of Diego Simeone) and as they waited to be let in, went through their repertoire of songs and let off flares.

Inside anticipation was building, the stadium DJ turned down the himno to allow the fans to sing along a Capella, then the traditional light show as the team was read out, with a lot of whistles when the recently-returned Antoine Griezmann’s name was read out.

Then when the teams finally appeared and lined up for the Champions League anthem, it was drowned out by a combination of whistles and fans singing Atlético’s own anthem. This never really comes across on TV.

The first half was a largely forgettable affair. There were barely any chances, with the constant whistling of pantomime villain Pepe about the only thing worth mentioning. The second half improved, Porto almost opened the scoring against the run of play when Jesus Corona hit the post, a rare example of Jan Oblak misjudging the situation, and Atlético started to attack with more purpose, especially after a triple substitution which introduced Correa, Lodi and Griezmann, who was again whistled and booed. Sadly Pepe had been substituted a couple of minutes before, thus robbing us of the spectacle of the two least popular men in the Wanda going head to head.

Atlético had more chances, albeit without ever really testing visiting goalkeeper Diogo Costa. Indeed, it was Porto who provided the biggest moment of the game, momentarily silencing the stadium through Mehdi Taremi’s 80th minute strike, before a quick VAR review ruled it out for a handball in the build-up.

The five minutes of added time seemed to mostly be used up by the referee taking his time in sending Porto’s Chancel Mbemba off for a professional foul and Luís Suarez just missed the target from the resulting free kick. With games against Liverpool and AC Milan to come, a goalless draw was hardly what Atlético would have wanted to start their European campaign.

Amenities Watch: Plenty of stuff on sale outside the ground as usual but Covid restrictions barred the sale of food inside the ground, meaning the only thing available was bottled water.

Match Rating: 5/10 – A huge disappointment on the pitch with Atlético not producing anything close to their best, but the atmosphere redeemed the whole experience somewhat. Even at only 60% capacity, the Wanda sounded brilliant.

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