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Notes from Madrid
- Updated: 7 March, 2014
Last weekend El Centrocampista writer, and Atletico fanatic, Will Bains dug out his passport and made the trip over to Madrid, where he managed to take in no less than three La Liga matches in just two days. Here he tells of his tales…
Last weekend was the Madrid derby at the Vicente Calderón – a match that I make the trip out to Madrid for every season. This year, the weekend of the game coincided with home games for both Getafe and Rayo Vallecano, so I also took the opportunity to go to each of those matches during my stay in the Spanish capital.
Expensive in Getafe
My first match of the weekend was Espanyol’s visit to Getafe, which turned out to be a very boring 0-0 draw. Nothing of particular note happened during the match, and there wasn’t a lot to excite the few fans there were from either team. There are certainly better ways of spending a Saturday evening.
The Coliseum Alfonso Pérez is a very appropriate name for Getafe’s ground, which is in an industrial area on the outskirts of Madrid. The vast sweeping stands produce a very impressive amphitheatre-like arena, although this is as far as the coliseum comparison goes.
Getafe suffer terribly from a lack of support, meaning that the atmosphere around the ground is far less hostile than might be expected in any other Spanish ground. This is a pity to me, as this ground could have a formidable atmosphere if only they had the fans to fill it.
But why is the support for Getafe so low? I imagine a large part of the problem lies in the ticket prices. Not wanting to get wet in the exposed parts of the ground, I decided to go for a seat in the covered section, which came with a price tag of €70. Given that the price for a seat in the same position at Atlético v Real was also €70, it certainly didn’t represent good value for money and it’s plain to see why these sorts of prices would prevent someone from attending.
Pantomime at the Calderón
The first of the two matches on Sunday was Atlético v Real, and what a contrast it was to the previous night’s game.
The atmosphere outside the stadium before the match is not like anything I have ever experienced inside a football ground. The noise and commotion could be heard from some distance away from the stadium, which really built the excitement and anticipation before kick off.
The game itself didn’t disappoint. The whole spectacle resembled something of a pantomime, with players from either side going down under challenges far too easily. Only a fan of either team could truly appreciate the game for what it was – a performance where the players on your team are the heroes and can do no wrong, and the opposition are the villains.
However, between the theatrics and in contrast to the corresponding fixture last season, the football itself was exciting and of high quality. The 35-yard Gabi goal on the stroke of half time is one that will live long in the memory (although why a long range strike at goal was the plan from the free kick I do not know), as will the goal celebrations that followed it.
Passion in Vallecas
Kick off for Rayo Vallecano v Valencia was a couple of hours after the final whistle at the Vicente Calderón, which offered plenty of time to head over to the Campo de Fútbol de Vallecas.
This is a ground that I really enjoy visiting, mainly because of the passionate singing of the fans and its unique nature with seating only on three sides and a wall behind one of the goals. However, one thing that does let Rayo down is the upkeep and repair of the stadium. Everything looked as though it could do with a good clean and a fresh coat of paint.
For all the faults with the stadium and the apparently poor management of a football match (the noticeable lack of stewards was an issue and the police didn’t seem to think it necessary to close the main road next to the stadium), it is the fans that make Rayo what it is. They didn’t disappoint. The hardcore fans stand behind the goal in the exposed fondo part of the ground and display numerous banners and flags in support of their team or in protest at something. The chants were also carefully orchestrated and the fans did not stop singing from before the game until well after the final whistle.
I was disappointed to have missed out on Real Madrid Castilla’s 2-2 draw with Tenerife as it clashed with the Getafe game (although it would definitely have been a better use of my time), so that’s a ground to put top of my list for next time. If I were to give any recommendations to a football fan thinking of taking in a game or two in Madrid, Rayo would certainly be up there. Indeed, there were plenty of English people close to where I was sitting who appeared to be doing exactly that. Certainly if you’re looking for a Spanish footballing experience that doesn’t involve a trip to one of the big sides, Rayo has to be the first choice.Follow @icentrocampista