Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Spain December 2010

Espanyol 1 Barcelona 5.


In some ways you wish for a home goal to make the atmosphere even noisier but then again you can sit back and watch Barca play.
And so it was, they played.

The locals streets were crowded and the bars vibrant.
Inside they played their song and the fans displayed the blue and white colours.
Everyone was aware that Catalunya was more than one club.

Then you had to admire a Barca masterclass, of movement, speed and skill.

The visitors could afford to miss various chances, including a sitter by Lionel Messi.
But though he didn’t score Messi did supply three assists.
As Pedro and David Villa each got a couple of goals.

Osvaldo did score a excellent consolation for the home side but what can you do against probably the best team in the world at the moment ?

Not that too many locals enjoyed the result as they threw plenty of debris at the Barca players, with only Iniesta escaping the abuse.

Santa Andreu 1 Ontinyent 0 in Segunda B group 3.

Two games on the Sunday following the Barcelona derby.

Sant Andreu is a northern suburb of Barcelona and the local team have a decent sized inner city ground with a covered main stand plus open seating on the three other sides.

A few ultras brought some flags and a drum.

It was a game of few chances settled by substitute Blanco’s shot, at the second attempt, with about five minutes remaining.
Santa Andreu moved up to 6th with this win.

Barcelona B 1 Ponferradina 1 in the Segunda Division.

Played at the pleasant Mini Estadi within the shadow of the Camp Nou.

A couple of thousand turned out in the afternoon to watch Barca reserves.
They had few familiar names playing and despite showing typical passing skills were nothing like the ‘A’ team.
Although centre back Fontas did give a reasonable Pique impression.

The goals, both scored by substitutes, came close together in the final ten minutes with Barca guilty of losing concentration after they went ahead.

It got colder but nothing like wintry UK.

Some tapas and wine helped the mood.

more pics at http://www.photobox.co.uk/album/607137494

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Belgium/France December 2010

Tienen 0 Rupel Boom 2 in the Belgian 2nd Division.

I’d been fortified with scampi and chips plus a small carafe of red before watching this one.

The game itself didn’t produce so much quality but when it came it was the visitors who
Two similar goals from close range headers sealed the away win.

Tienen’s cause wasn’t helped by having their goalie sent off late on but they never really found the final ball.
A decent number from Boom made the trip to a typical smallish ground, of low level seats/terrace with the usual abundance of adverts.

I caught the late train back to Brussels.

Paris FC 4 Magenta (New Caledonia) 0 in the French Cup.

From Brussels to Paris using the fast but costly Thalys train.

Paris play at the Stade Charlety , in the south of the city, the home of the rugby team Stade Francais.
The match was played in a somewhat surreal atmosphere with only around 200 present in a 20,000 capacity, modern styled stadium.

But it’s not every day you see a team from New Caledonia (from the South Pacific) so there was a certain fascination in watching Magenta.
They even had some fans though whether they had all made such a trip was perhaps unlikely.

Within a couple of minutes it was clear there would be no extra time as Vincent scored from 20yds and the home side drove through the visitors defence almost at will.
Further goals followed a regular intervals and the only curiosity was whether Magenta could conjure up a goal.
Some shots , yes and the odd chance but no goals for the sympathetic ‘crowd’ to cheer.

It got colder and I made a brisk exit passing some puzzled Parisiens wondering what was going on in the stadium.
Via the metro and the fast train back to Brussels and then the local train to Denderleeuw.

Dender 2 Leuven 1 in the Belgian 2nd Division.

Another smallish ground, covered, with an unused terrace at one end.
Some 2,000 turned out on this coldish Saturday night, including the Dender ‘ultras’ behind the goal.
Both teams are near the top and battling for promotion.

The goals came in the first half, firstly from a penalty driven home by the Dender goalie followed by a second from their forward Jorgo Waeghe.
Leuven replied soon after when the excellent Harbaoui converted a cross.

Both teams had a man dismissed just before half-time.
And in the second period Leuven pushed their hosts back but failed to create much and Dender held out for the win.

Kortrijk 3 Lierse 1 in the Belgian ‘Premier’.

Its about an hour and a half by train from Brussels to Kortrijk.

I arrived in time to enjoy a late lunchtime meal in one of the many restaurants in the pleasant central area of town. Many others were doing the same.

Later that evening I was amongst the 5,760 who watched a decent match between mid-table Kortrijk and lowly Lierse (just one win all season)
Their, larger, ground is near the river which contributed to making it a very cold night.
Maybe I should have joined the packed end terrace rather than having a seat in the stands.

But the game itself was entertaining with the home side always troubling the visitors with their movement.
Lierse brought a lively few hundred and they saw their team go ahead against the run of play after 23 minutes as the home goalie was beaten to the ball.
Ten minutes later De Beule scored his first and just before half time he beat the offside trap to slot his second.

In the second half Lierse, though limited, were always in with a chance until M’Boyo put in the clincher near the end.

I needed quite a time to warm up.

more pics at http://photobox.co.uk/album/595657140.