Aguero’s Magic in Madrid

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Atletico Madrid 4 v 0 Schalke (27.08.2008)

If it isn’t broke don’t fix it. Our ‘football holiday’ for 2008 was based on the success of the one back in 2007 where we managed to get 6 games in 8 days out in Portugal and Spain. This time though we focused on travelling through Spain for a La Liga sandwich, with the potential of some Champions League / Europa League action providing the filling. We had taken a gamble and pre booked a one way flight into Santander hoping for Racing Santander, Athletic Bilbao or Real Sociedad (the major local sides) to be at home. Unfortunately the gamble didn’t pay off this time – the La Liga season started a week later than we had anticipated, so we had drawn a complete ‘Serge Blanco’ on the opening weekend of our trip!

The difficulty planning trips at the start of a new season is that fixture lists abroad aren’t released in June like they are in England, and you can wait until the 1st or 2nd weekend of August in some cases before they are published. On top of that the TV scheduling is left until the last minute to – certainly in La Liga – when a games date and kick off time can be changed as little as a week before.

Facing up to the harsh reality of no Spanish football on the weekend of 23rd/24th August – we made the most of our brief visit to the northern Spanish coastal city of Santander. Luckily for us there was a large South American festival in town on the seafront – which basically included a load of small tents representing all of the different nations from that part of the world, and all serving food and drink from their respective nation.

With our creative hats on – we decided to allocate the Saturday night to a South American pub tent crawl, sampling beers from across the continent, including Quilmes, Cusquena, Dos Equis, Cristal, Brahma, Pacena and many more!

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Working our way through the South American beer tents!

After a decent weekend spent in Santander we headed onto Madrid for our second leg of the trip – the midweek Champions League tie between Atletico Madrid and Schalke.

We had seen Atletico as part of our visit a year earlier, so we were at least familiar with the set up. We purchased tickets on the afternoon of the match from the ticket booths located outside the corner of the main covered stand. This is on the far side of the ground if you’re approaching from the city centre side! Little did we know at the time but we were sold tickets in the away section! It can’t be often a home club sells you tickets in the away section for a Champions League tie! Maybe they thought we were German and they were doing us a favour?!

There was a real buzz along the ‘Calle Toledo’ that afternoon. The Calle Toledo is one of the main roads that leads down to the Vicente Calderon from the City Centre, and on a match day is a great place to stop off for a few beers. As mentioned on my post from Atletico last year there are quite a few bars, cafes and tapas bars dotted along here and fans spill out into the streets. The place was rammed with Atleti and Schalke supporters prior to kick off and you could sense there was a lot riding on this fixture – with qualification to the Champions League group stages at stake.

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In and around the Calle Toledo and Vicente Calderon before kick off….

Inside the Vicente Calderon there was a raucous atmosphere, and the ‘Frente Ultras’ stood behind the south end had taken things up a notch compared to what we had witnessed a year earlier against Racing! The volume of noise was ten times louder and the pre match tifo was a decent effort as well:

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Feeling slightly disappointed at being sat in the away section, it was even harder to see Atletico play a blinder and dish out a right hammering, without being able to applaud or celebrate the quality on show that night.

Despite being one nil down from the first leg, Atletico really turned on the style and Aguero in particular looked pure class. On the night he scored one and played a part in three others. Four goals from four different scorers secured their passage into the Group Stages and a massive pay day, and the Vicente Calderon was absolutely jumping in the second half. The “Atle-ti, Atle-ti” chants deafening!

You tube link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dl7pWBQD4MQ

For some reason there was a spot of trouble at half time as baton wielding riot police waded into a few Schalke fans who looked like they had done very little to be honest. There was no obvious signs of unrest, violence or provocation, they were only one nil down at that stage so were still’ in the game’.

Goals: Aguero (18’), Forlan (50’), Garcia (82’), Maxi (86’)

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This was our second visit to Atleti in just under a year, and both times we had seen 4-0 wins, and both times there were 4 different scorers! I know what my bet will be next time we visit!

Post match we headed back to the city centre to re-acquaint ourselves with a few favourite bars from the year before. En route we got chatting to a couple of Dutch Schalke fans (don’t ask why) and ended up having a ‘lock in’ in a small Spanish bar called ‘Madame Teresa’ off of ‘Sol’. The owner seemingly enjoying the opportunity to host some foreign football fans at his own expense. You cant turn down a free beer or two!

As ever in Madrid things continued way into the night – there are no ‘last order’ bells ringing at 11pm here!

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The Madame Teresa tapas bar lock in!!….

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Viva Madrid!….colourful bars on the streets around ‘Sol’

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