There are certain trips that end and you can’t help but spend the next few days on a real low. You think of what a great few days you had and you know the next few won’t live up to it. This trip left that mark on us all. After a few days of reflection, it really was a special trip to a special city.
Sam, in his latest article, covered exactly the emotions and atmosphere El Classico created in the city. However, before a ball was kicked, there was a lot of partying to be done and more football to enjoy – including two FA Cup Semi Finals.
4 boys travelled to Madrid to make a 5. Jafar was celebrating 21 years of surviving alcohol on the Wednesday, so this was the perfect way to celebrate. Will, Jafar and myself from London and Zalan from Switzerland met Harry in Madrid, who’s enjoying the working life in the Spanish capital after spending half the year across the world in Chile. As old school friends, it was great to be reunited (not sure who Zalan is though), and Harry took us on a tour around the city and to El Retiro Park, where we soaked up the sun, burnt to a crisp and dehydrated ourselves just enough for the alcohol to hit us right. He even taught us some of the culture. Is it a kiss on each cheek? 3 and a hand shake? A hug? A slob on the face and a gentle grope? Who knows, we looked like tourists anyway.
Once again, ‘Harry the local’ flexed his Spanish muscles and sorted us out a table in a beautiful, authentic Spanish restaurant. Sharing great food, a toast to Jafar for his 21st birthday, and a few beers all round, we embraced the Spanish culture by eating till 11:00-11:30, and heading out energised for the long night awaiting us.
Cheap student bars in the form of ‘Chupitos’ playing Britney Spears’ greatest hits was right up my alley. Although even my taste of music has taken a turn since starting uni.
From Chupitos to Space Monkey Club, we found ourselves in a small club packed with atmosphere and excitement. The DJ shared a few laughs with Will as he played some old English classics. ‘Mr Brightside’ and ‘Wonderwall’ came on I believe? It was going brilliantly, and just when we thought we couldn’t top it – 5 became 7.
From the corner of our eyes, through a crowd of dancing drunks, two familiar figures appeared. Sam Blitz and Ricci Ronchi arrived, and the place went wild. Apart from the four of us, no one even knew who they were! They obviously felt our excitement as we erupted. Even Zalan (who?) lost his mind as he finally met the much talked about duo. A mini riot broke out as we celebrated, and we hit the bar immediately. The drinks kept coming – not so sure who was even getting these rounds! At this rate there must have been a bar tab going and a lovely bar lady on repeat just handing out the pints. Zalan found himself on top of the bar cutting shapes when all he wanted was to buy a round himself.
A great end to the night, and we stumbled quietly into our hostel in an attempt not to disturb our roommates. Lights out. What was to come? Only Chelsea vs Tottenham at Wembley…
Chelsea 4-2 Tottenham Hotspur
So, we are predominantly a sports blog. I shouldn’t get away from that too much. In fact we are all predominantly football fans. It was Will (Chelsea fan) vs Harry (Spurs fan) at the pub as Sam’s generous cousin got the drinks in again (not what we needed but grateful nonetheless).
Tottenham looked the team in charge for most of the game, though Chelsea looked comfortable soaking up Spurs’ pressure and limited them to very few, if any real chances bar the goals. I felt it was ultimately a showing from Chelsea we haven’t been used to. They normally attack and give their front players a lot of freedom, though on this occasion they adapted to Spurs’ possession game and showed resilience about them. 4 goals is a terrific achievement but from 4 shots on goal I felt it was more a tribute to their efficiency and attacking individual quality rather than an all round great attacking team performance. Who am I to judge though. This team is top of the league and Conte has led them to a Cup final. It clearly works!
Spurs will be disappointed, especially having come back from 1-0 down and 2-1 down as well. The penalty on Moses seemed harsh though anticipated contact probably suggests the poor tackle from Son merited the penalty overall – though I see both sides to the argument.
A strike hit sweeter than any I’d ever seen by Nemanja Matic put the tie to bed and booked Chelsea a Wembley final. Son at full-back didn’t work, and Pochetino took a risk that didn’t pay off. Tottenham’s left hand side was exposed without Rose, and Chelsea took advantage of that well, with 2 of their goals coming from the right hand side of the pitch, and Hazard’s goal coming from a lack of authority in the penalty area which maybe a more natural defender would have brought to the team. I appreciate I’m knit-picking, but it certainly all contributed.
Poor Harry, such a brilliant host but his team lost on the day. Sam’s cousin, who had an obscene amount of money on Chelsea to win, waved a tissue at Harry at full-time. A slightly alcohol-influenced Will Gamble went all ‘Brexit’ on us after the win, acting like a proud blue, but rightly so, his side made it to the final.
Back to the City
Another great meal, with painfully revealing chats and insights into life in the 60s from Sam’s cousin was the perfect way to spend our last night all together. ‘Kapital’ (Madrid nightclub) hosted us from 3:00am as we arrived upon rumours Brazilian Ronaldo was there! Didn’t see him, but let’s just say he was.
After supposedly ‘stealing’ a bottle of Bacardi (look at the size of that thing, who’s stealing that?!) and taking enough pictures to fill Will’s Instagram, we continued to dance and enjoy the night. Another late end before 4 hours sleep and a wake up call telling us we should have checked out an hour ago. Ooops. The hostel were lovely about it, we got our deposit and dragged our broken selves out of the hostle.
Will, Jafar and Zalan went to catch their flights, but I was far from finished, Arsenal were due to play…
Arsenal 2-1 Man City (After Extra Time)
Arsenal seemed poor for the first 45, causing Man City very few problems. I criticised Chelsea for it the day before, but Arsenal came out to play in the second half. They undoubtedly rode their luck as Silva went off injured, City hit the bar twice and had a goal disallowed. Yeah, the stars aligned for the Gunners. But you make your own luck! Arsenal played to frustrate the Citizens and took their opportunities brilliantly with Chamberlain setting the tone for his team, and Monreal and Holding also looking superb in the new 3-4-3 formation tried only once before by Wenger.
Simply, Arsenal’s new formation allowed them to press on City’s forward players when they received the ball because there was so much cover at the back. City and Guardiola’s unwillingness to adapt to opposition left his full-backs exposed with Chamberlain and Monreal enjoying the space afforded to them, and Ozil was able to quietly influence the game in-between the lines where Toure, who had a brilliant game, wasn’t able to track him.
Wenger, coming under a lot of criticism in recent weeks, definitely turned up with a tactical masterclass when it mattered. He tired City out, set his side out to be compact and difficult to break down, and let his attacking players show their worth when City were at their most vulnerable.
Sam was lucky enough to be at the game. I got to see the city on El Classico day from a regular fans point of view! In a lovely bar with the company of Harry and Ricci, we witnessed a ‘classic’ El Classico as both teams toyed with their fans by taking and losing leads throughout the night. It was ultimately Messi and Barcelona’s night as the Catalans took charge towards the end and finished a sweeping counter attack through their Argentine talisman.
Another Trip Completed
What a weekend! Thanks to Ricci and Harry for hosting us. Jafar turned 21 in style, and both Arsenal and Chelsea did their fans proud. I’ll be ignoring Will around the days of the FA Cup final, but what an occasion that will be. Fanalysis want to experience football from all around the world, but lets start with Europe! The Emirates, Wembley, San Siro, Stadio Olimpico and Bernabeu all ticked off. What’s next?
As always, thanks for following and reading our articles. It’s the readers that keep us going!
Credit to Jafar, Zalan, Harry, Will, Ricci and Sam for pictures and their contributions to the ridiculous stories that emerged from this weekend.