By Gethin Boore
A few months after a great weekend in the Basque Country, it was time to head over to one of the biggest footballing cities. Some might think Real and Atletico Madrid are the only teams from the city, but as you flick through other names such as Getafe, CD Leganés and Rayo Vallecano, you wouldn’t necessarily know they are based in the capital. This time I watched three games, one in the Primera Division, one in the Segunda Division and one in the Segunda B.
My first game was on the Saturday as I went south of the city to Alcorcón for their Segunda Division game against CD Tenerife. They were formed in 1971, and first reached the Segunda in 2012. They are well known for thrashing their community neighbours, Real Madrid, 4-0 in the Copa Del Rey in 2009, who included Raul, Karim Benzema and Marcelo in their team. They have remained in the Segunda since that first promotion in 2012.
The town is around twenty minutes from Madrid’s Atocha train station, and it was pretty quiet when I arrived with my Dad. There was about four hours till kick off, and we needed to make sure that we had tickets. As we arrived at the Estadio Santo Domingo, it struck me how many 3G pitches surrounded the main stadium.
When we arrived at the ticket office, it was closed, so youth games was our entertainment for half an hour or so and one game involved a Real Madrid Peña, in which they seemed to concede at least 12 goals within the first five minutes! Although all of the surrounding pitches were 3G, there was one which was basically just sand, and which was occupied by South American immigrants.
We got our tickets, and headed to an Alcorcón Peña, and it was more of a Tenerife territory. In amongst the supporters from the Canary Islands were English supporters from Manchester, who follow the Blanquiazules across various cities in Spain. They were with the rest of the Tenerife fans, and they were in full voice at the stadium too.
As soon as we sat in our seats, Tenerife were awarded a penalty, which was tucked away nicely in front of the away fans. The home atmosphere heated up a bit, and Alcorcón were awarded one as well, and it was 1-1. The second half was full of bad crosses really, and neither side threatened to score, and a draw was a fair result in the end.
Coming into the game, both sides were battling in mid-table, so the match itself always wasn’t going to be incredible. The ground was compared to Hereford’s Edgar Street, where one stand has two tiers, and that you can’t see the touchline. Everyone knows that the Primera’s style of football is much slicker than the Segunda’s, but what was comic was the awful standard of crossing.
The Sunday after featured two games. The first game was in the Segunda Division B Grupo 1 between AD Union Adarve and the leaders Fuenlabrada. That league is in the third tier of Spanish football, as there are four different regionalised divisions spread across the country, and neither of these sides have played in the Segunda. The name of the ground is Poli Deportivo Vincente Del Bosque, named after… yes, the Vincente Del Bosque. It is located in Madrid’s business area, where the only stand faces four gigantic towers, which gives it a surreal setting, as it’s also not far from Plaza de Catilla and further on the Bernabéu.
It was a free entry to get into the game, and everyone had to squeeze into one stand facing the towers. Marca gave the crowd 1,000, including 200 odd Fuenlabrada fans and ultras, including one guy wearing Atletico Madrid’s infamous ultra group Frente Atletico t-shirt. The game itself definitely wasn’t the best, as it finished 1-1 with Fuenlabrada scoring first in the first half, before the home side made it all square in the second period.
We then had a Metro ride to the north-east side of the city to the Estadio Wanda Metropolitano, Atletico Madrid’s new ground, as they faced Athletic Club Bilbao.
This is a fixture that goes back to 1903, when Atletico were founded by a group of Basque students. Their colours were blue and white, before they changed to their traditional red and white strip, and they became known as Los Colchaneros due to their kit being compared to mattress covers. The two giants of Spanish football battled it out in the 2012 Europa League final, in which the capital side won 3-0, and Athletic were the last away team to play at Atletico’s old ground, the Vincente Calderon. The move to the new ground wasn’t something the fans agreed with, because of their switch from their traditional neighbourhood to the other side of the city.
The game itself promised not to be the best because of Atletico’s defensive style of play, but there was no need to play defensive, as the Lions were without their top scorer and legend, Artiz Aduriz. Los Indios won the game 2-0, with goals from Kevin Gamiero and the mad-man himself, Diego Costa. It was a significant win for Atletico, as they played with class, and if felt like they could catch the leaders, Barcelona.
I’m someone that likes old-school stadiums, but I have to admit that the Wanda is something else. The atmosphere was brilliant, and so much better than what you experience in the Premier League. The one man that definitely helps the atmosphere is the manager, Diego Simeone, as he rarely stops bouncing around on the touchline.
So, Madrid, the capital of this football mad country, definitely didn’t disappoint. We ticked off three grounds, all at different levels, all completely different. However, there are loads of grounds to tick off in the city. Clubs like Fuenlebrada, Rayo Vallecano and Leganés are apparently all worth the visit, and I do highly recommend visiting the Advare and Alcorcón, and of course, the magnificent Wanda.
Again, another brilliant trip in Spain. On to the Community of Valencia next.
Also, if you want to know more about football in Madrid, head over to watch YouTube vlogger Roddy Cons with his channel TheTeamOnTour, where he goes groundhopping to various games in Madrid, from La Liga to the Tercera.