Address: Paseo Plata y Castanar, 7, 28021 Madrid
Cercanias: Puente Alcocer
Metro: Villaverde Alto (line 3)
Last Saturday saw FCB play away from home for what seems like the millionth time in a row. This time was at the Sex Toys Arena in Villaverde the site of their fateful game against Unión Selección in the last game of the Apertura. Their opponents were the same team that had beaten them that day, but the personnel were slightly different as the team in Newcastle black and white were shorn of some of their star names.
The lineup Rami opted for FCB in red was:
The intensity of the lads’ pressing and scramble defence in the first fifteen minutes belied how much this game meant both in terms of the context of the Clausura league table and the prospect of atoning for the performance last time the teams faced off. Unable to establish their usual passing rhythm, the home team’s much-vaunted midfield gave up a couple of early chances to Calum, who had only the keeper to round, and Joe who opted to lift the ball over the top of both the onrushing goalie and the crossbar.
Unión then had their best chance of the game after Omar gave a soft penalty away following another case of a defender’s technique letting them down passing out from the back. To British relief, the post rather than Jorge was the troubled party in the end and the rare foray into the Brits’ half came to nothing.
The first half was perhaps best summed up though by the highly speculative effort FCB produced straight from kick-off, designed to be a statement of intent but horribly executed, Calum’s attempted lob from the halfway line evidenced both the tyro attitude and the absence of composure displayed throughout.
The message at halftime was broadly positive from Rami, who in the scant time allowed by the referee told his charges to get back onto the pitch and make their pressure count on the scoreboard.
As is habitually the case, FCB’s greater fitness and inferior year count started to tell in the second half and they started to see more chances on the counter-attack with all of the front-line guilty of spurning decent opportunities and half chances in the opening salvos.
As Joe was substituted for Luigi with Calum pushed forwards the chances started to get a bit clearer and the controversy a lot stronger. First Calum shot straight at the keeper when clean through much to Rami’s frustration, and then when through again he unselfishly squared for Luigi to tap in and give the Brits a deserved lead….Or so all but one person present thought.
The stone-faced referee, who had been as friendly as a junkyard dog throughout, ruled the goal out for offside despite a complete lack of protest from the Union Selección players, the animated protests of the FCB bench and being stood much nearer the centre circle than the incident. At best it was a poor guess following what this observer believes to be a league-wide mandate to give the benefit of the doubt to the defending side on offside decisions, getting into what that decision might be at its worst was what a tempestuous Moroccan manager was virulently doing at the final whistle.
FCB cannot blame the referee though for this one finishing scoreless, however. Apart from the several chances mentioned already, there were further chances for Luigi as he struck the bar and Matthias who could not find a way to break the deadlock, and ultimately the lads will look back on an opportunity lost to put daylight between themselves and the chasing pack.
Next up for FCB are Bar la Piscina and another big test for this side. Let’s hope the finishing improves, and the offsides go our way…
Man of the Match: Matt Laverty
Quote of the match: Rami with something pre-match about Jews and mistakes
Miss of the match: Calum Cant
The last game of the Bunwer Apertura season before the festive hiatus saw the lads make a trip to Villaverde in Madrid’s supposedly mean southern suburbs to take on an outfit that have been something of a bogey team for the men from Albion in recent seasons. Bar Galicia Villaverde regularly grind out results against the tougher teams in the division thanks to hard-nosed defending and a physical approach which can disrupt the passing patterns of their rivals. FCB had been held to a goalless draw on the previous two outings against them and were looking for something of a change of fortunes this time round to keep in touch with the leaders.
As if any more Christmas coal were needed to stoke the incandescent flame of Rami’s passion, the opposition manager is a colleague of the man from North Shields and Rami duly knocked his pre-game speech out of the park, telling his charges to relieve the opposition of their appetite before their upcoming Christmas dinner by giving them a good stuffing! A starting XI of Jorge, Ed, Macca, Omar, Harry, Oscar, Christoff, Matt, Mathias, Sober Calum, and the returning Ish took to the field under the obtrusive sex shop billboards and the faint roar of the A-42 to do just that and make sure that Christmas wasn’t cancelled for the big-hearted maniac in the dugout.
It looked from about the fifteen-minute mark that ol’ saint Nick was going to be marking the British outfit as “naughty” on his ledger this year however as a cross from the right was intercepted by Jorge under severe duress from the opposition striker. In the ensuing kerfuffle, words were exchanged as they invariably are in these situations and according to the debutant referee some of those words were very naughty and directed at somebody’s sainted mother. More kerfuffle and handbags later and FCB were down to ten men and Matt ‘the cat’ was donning the gloves for an indirect freekick for Villaverde 7 yards from goal. Cometh the hour, cometh the man, and Oscar, who was to prove himself a bloody sound lad later in the night, stopped the piledriver of a freekick at point-blank range with his big handsome bearded bonce to keep the scores level. FCB, now riled up with a sense of righteous injustice, promptly went down the other end and made it 0-1 thanks to Sober Calum who did well to round the keeper after terrific hold-up play from Ish. The second followed shortly after as a side that prides itself on being ‘contundente’ was opened up by a delightful pass by man of the moment Oscar for Sober Calum to round the keeper and slot in to double the advantage before the break.
Those who have played any team sport to any decent level will tell you that there are some games they refused to lose, that they simply knew at some point or another that the day was theirs, they might tell you that there was simply a look exchanged between teammates which said that there was no way that they were going to let the opposition beat them that day for whatever reason. The FCB players at halftime on Saturday calmly discussed the tactical proposition of third man runs and covering the extra man in midfield with that same unspoken confidence binding them to the pact that this would not be BGV’s day.
Sure enough, 3-0 came shortly after the interval when Ed looked up from left back and saw a previously unknown player known simply now as SC defying his own lungs and bursting beyond his midfield berth stretching the covering defenders. Wrapping his left foot round the ball he set this mysterious force of nature free down the left. Sober Calum still had a lot of work to do from the left side of the box but he did it with the aplomb his alter ego might not have mustered to bag his hattrick and plonk the victory angel atop the FCB Christmas tree. This was to be more or less the last action for Ed however as he went off injured (still can’t walk properly 6 days later!) shortly after having a ball played over his head and failing to get to the opposition winger who shot past the otherwise excellent stand-in keeper Matt for 1-3. On came returning heartthrob Alberto for his crocked captain, Pete for Macca and Christmas elf Sam playing his last ever game for the club for Mathi.
The next goal of the game came from the outstanding Ish who did excellently to finish off a fine move from a tight angle after good work from a man just discovering the subtle joys of a night in and playing with untrammelled genius every time the ball came his way. In bizarre fashion, the next action of note was a trigger-happy referee sending off Ish for his second yellow card
The Spanish side were now clearly defeated and playing like they knew it. The space in behind was as vast as Graeme’s garden presumably is, and after a couple of near misses which all on the bench agonised over, everyone’s favourite little pest and jolly Christmas elf bagged himself a leaving present in the form of a goal which he did well to scramble in after a cross from the right courtesy of Jordan -who if he’d followed his instincts and shot would have been a real grinch!-
1-5 the final score and one team were to thoroughly enjoy their Christmas meal dickheads, fake boobs and all, while the other would be far too stuffed to enjoy theirs.
Goal of the game: SC
Man of the Match: Calum Cant
Quote of the match: (who else) Rami “They’ve got their Christmas meal today and I want you to go out there and stuff them so they have no appetite!”
Happiest moment of the match: Sam scoring in his final game 🙂