On the weekend of 9th/10th October, I ventured outside the city of Madrid for my football, first for the Clásico de Fútbol Femenino in Alcalá de Henares and then to a brand new ground with a spectacular backdrop in San Lorenzo de El Escorial.
⚽️ Atlético Madrid Femenino 0-3 Barcelona Femení
🏟 Centro Deportivo Wanda, Alcalá de Henares
🏆 Primera Iberdrola
For my first women’s game of the season, I took a trip out to Alcalá de Henares and the Centro Deportivo Wanda, the excellent mini-stadium Atlético have built for their Femenino side.
Atlético Madrid v Barcelona has in recent years been the biggest match in the Spanish women’s football calendar. Winners of the last five league titles between them, holders of the world record for the biggest attendance at a women’s club match (set at the Wanda Metropolitano in 2019), despite the belated arrival of Real Madrid on the scene last season, this is still regarded as el clásico de Fútbol Femenino.
But in the last couple of seasons, Barcelona have pulled well clear of their rivals, winning the Treble of Primera Iberdrola, Copa de la Reina and Women’s Champions League last season. Meanwhile, Atlético could only manage a Supercopa triumph, although they did beat Barcelona in the corresponding fixture in June, preventing them from winning the league with a 100% record.
However, on this occasion, Barcelona were simply too good for their hosts. Dominant in possession throughout, Atlético could t get near them in the early stages and they were inches away from going in front when Aitana Bonmatí cracked an effort off the upright.
Atlético then hit the woodwork themselves, Ludmila flicked the ball up and smacked it against the crossbar from where it landed in the grateful arms of Sandra Paños. It proved to be a costly miss as Barça broke with speed and worked the ball through to Asisat Oshoala to score on the rebound after Lola Gallardo had spilled her initial shot.
Barça made the game safe midway through the second half. Aitana fired a low shot through a crowd of players and it crept past Gallardo at her near post on 70 minutes and then four minutes later, Caroline Graham Hansen supplied a perfect cross for sub Lieke Martens to tap in from close range.
The almost-capacity road did their best to encourage a comeback from Atlético but they were restricted to a few half-chances and only a couple of excellent saves from Gallardo prevented Barcelona from turning it into a real hammering.
Amenities Watch: I didn’t pay a visit to the bar here because there was a sizeable line of people waiting outside – and far fewer tables available on the terrace than in May. Due to the heat, I just bought a bottle of water from the kiosk inside. And obviously there was plenty of merchandise on sale as there is an Atlético store on site, I love the Cholo Simeone socks!
Match Rating: 8/10 – Atlético tried their best, but Barcelona were always in control and once they went in front there was only going to be one winner. There’s a serious case for saying that this Barcelona team is the most complete side in present day football – in either the men’s or women’s game – and it looks like they’re set to dominate again this season.
⚽️ UD San Lorenzo 6-1 CD Alpedrete
🏟 Campo La Herreria, San Lorenzo de El Escorial
🏆 Madrid Segunda Regional, Group 1
💶 Free Entry!
A day later, I was off on my travels again, taking the train up into the mountains for a day in San Lorenzo de El Escorial. Sarah and I had visited here three years before on our first day trip together after I moved to Madrid, so it was a nice opportunity to retrace our steps and also see a bit more of the town itself and have a nice big lunch.
Then at 4:30, we headed down to the small Campo La Herrería where the game was taking place. I’ll admit that the main reason I wanted to go here was the spectacular backdrop, the Real Sitio de San Lorenzo de El Escorial, the 16th century royal palace and monastery which dominates the town’s skyline (and a UNESCO World Heritage site) and the mountains of the Sierra de Guadarrama. There aren’t many grounds which can rival it for location.
The local team Unión Deportiva San Lorenzo are actually one of Madrid’s oldest clubs, founded in 1919, but they didn’t get off to the best of starts on this occasion, switching off while defending a set piece to trail 1-0 early on against Alpedrete. But they soon levelled from the penalty spot and went into half time 2-1 in front.
After conceding twice early in the second half, the visitors’ discipline started to collapse and they should have had a man sent off for a reckless challenge on the San Lorenzo goalkeeper right after the fourth goal. The referee struggled to keep a lid on the simmering tensions from both sides, San Lorenzo were incensed by a couple of questionable offside calls – there are no assistant referees at this level – and a few clashed led to more bookings and Alpedrete belatedly being reduced to ten men.
San Lorenzo made their numerical advantage count, adding a further two goals to the scoreline to ensure they climbed to the top of the table on goal difference,
Additional entertainment came from San Lorenzo’s manager, who was incredibly animated throughout and extremely reluctant to stay in the confines of the dugout, ending up on the pitch on more than one occasion and even advancing as far as the penalty area to guide his team on how to defend a corner.
Amenities Watch: Tucked away in a corner is a little bar, walls covered in old team photos. Alas, no luck in my hunt for another scarf for the collection, I did ask, but someone in a club tracksuit top explained that their stock for the new season hadn’t arrived yet. Maybe I’ll go back sometime…
Match Rating: 8.5/10 – I really enjoyed this one, lots of variety amongst the goals, a bit of needle between the two teams, the incredibly animated San Lorenzo manager and of course, the views in the background.