Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Malta/Italy September 2017

1st September 2017  Malta 0 England 4  World Cup qualifier.  16,994 (c. 3500 away)

Malta has experienced many invasions over the centuries, this time it was mainly from overweight middle-aged men.
Who sang about 'don't take me home', only to leave well before the end.
And 'we're not very good' whilst failing to see the three late goals that gave England another step on the way towards Russia 2018.

Ok it certainly looked laboured at times and we created little for long periods.
But, by design or otherwise, with Malta weakening Southgate brought on more forwards and they comfortably finished the job.
Kane scored twice, Welbeck once (after a miss) and Bertrand netted a left foot drive that went over the goalie.

Apart from the football the island offers plenty of history and some spectacular scenery.
It felt a little like the Middle East, not least with the Arabic influenced local language.

You have a mix of the ancient (eg Mdina) and modern (large hotels in the northern bay areas)
And at this time of year religious festivals feature with towns bedecked in flags and churches beautifully lit.

For this author it was very hot and finding your way around tricky, especially at night.
The road signage is poor, at best.
And filling up with petrol at weekends means using euro notes, only (no credit cards, or coins)

But the locals were always helpful.

3rd September  Cremonese 3 Avellino 1  Serie B  6,662 (c. 400 away)

One route back was via Italy and I flew to Treviso and onward by train to Cremona.
Which is another of the many attractive Italian cities, famous for its violin manufacturers (amongst other things)

Cremonese were returning to the second level after a long break.
They are a club that participated in the old Anglo-Italian Cup (at Wembley) and can include Gianluca Vialli and Anders Limpar amongst their past players.

On this Sunday evening the ultras put on a good show and their team responded.
Daniele Croce was often instrumental in many of the home moves which often went down the left wing.
Although Avellino, who also had decent support, quickly equalised the Cremonese opener the home side would go ahead just after the half hour.
They stayed in front before adding a late third in the closing minutes.

Much to the enjoyment of the home crowd.

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