|4th February 2024
On one of those days that remind the players why they live in Madrid, FC Britanico took to the pitch in Las Cocheras to rack up another dub and look good while doing it.
As the starting XI got the match underway in ‘t-shirt weather conditions’ the big question among the substitutes was if anyone had anyone had any sunscreen.
Majid’s men lined up in their traditional 5-3-2 formation with Marco in goal. In defence Omar and Arren were accompanied by Josh who’d made a remarkable recovery from his ‘broken leg’ two weeks before. Mats, Yaron and Cal were in midfield while Ish and Will patrolled the flanks with Harry and Pádraig offering plenty of pace up front.
In the last few training sessions, Coach Si had been drilling the lads on the importance of playing quickly between wing-backs in the build-up. Initially, the stiff resistance from a fit Vallecas team prevented the Brits from doing that.
Luckily FCB are a team that know how to mix it up when they have to with several players who love nothing more than a well-directed ping over the top. Harry was finding success in the channels and was enjoying fewer offside calls against him than usual.
The opening goal came after ten minutes. Having been fouled just inside the box, Pádraig lashed his penalty out of the reach of the Vallecas keeper. The decision went almost uncontested by an opposition side that had already seen their midfield teammate put in three ill-advised ‘reducers’ against the fleet-footed Brits.
The Britanico bench may have complained bitterly about those early tackles from the Vallecas number ten but they weren’t moaning about the threshold for cards that they set in the mind of the referee when Will received only a yellow for his vicious vengeance tackle a few minutes later.
The second goal on 36 minutes came from a familiar source. FCB had kept their opponents at arm’s length and started to dominate the game. There were neat passages of play as the benefits of the occasional sideways pass began to reveal themselves to players raised on kick-and-chase football. One of these saw Pádraig cross to his strike partner to finish off an impressive move for two nil.
All was in order as the halftime oranges were munched.
The instructions for more of the same were initially heeded in the second half but as chances went begging, passes were missed and foul throws penalised Rami’s ‘main character syndrome’ started to kick in and unnerve his players.
On 54 minutes a chance to cut out a through ball was missed and Vallecas’ tall striker showed Omar a clean pair of heels as he slotted past Marco from a tight angle.
The now seemingly obligatory stressful phase of the game then ensued. Si and Rami engaged in a lively debate on the sidelines as FCB tried to play out from the back when Rami wanted someone to put a foot through it.
Before the season started bookies had stopped taking bets on how long it would take for Rami and Si to have a nuclear falling out but the entente is still cordiale between a pair who have so far proved the doubters wrong.
Ultimately the lads made the brave decision to stick with the passing and trust their teammates to retain possession. Rami made a bold decision of his own deciding to bring off Captain Cal who was on a yellow and making doe eyes at the red.
The newly famous drummer made it through the high fives with the subs bench but his scowl turned to full-blown rockstar rage as he approached the innocent, expensive water bottles which he booted all over the pitch in a pique of anger.
Is there a type of Stockholm Syndrome where Captains start to sympathise with and even resemble their managers after spending too long taking their crap? A Pavlovian response..?
Six minutes later Cal’s replacement EQ slid a delightful pass through the Vallecas defence to set up for Harry who had somehow managed to end up with the armband.
At 3-1 down Vallecas’ shoulders had dropped, their body language had changed and they had emptied their bench. In truth, they never looked like getting back into it and dropped off noticeably towards the end.
Before the match, Rami had implored his midfield and wingers to make sure they got on the scoresheet but it was Pádraig who missed one and scored one in the dying minutes as the match ended 4-1 to the Brits.
As the early February sun shone on some delicious, post-match Argayo jarras the lads ruminated on how Harry had managed to pip some very worthy contenders to the dick-of-the-day award, whether they’d be having a magical third pint and whether FCB are a team that always score the same forgettable goals.
|Calle San Lamberto, 21, 28017 Madrid, España