Jessica kicks off the first leg of her journey
Editor’s note: Welcome back to A Beggar For Good Soccer, our summer travelogue miniseries from Jessica Malone. We kick off the tour around Europe in Spain as La Liga’s season draws to a close.
First stop: Spain. Atlético Madrid were playing Valencia mid-week at the Wanda Metropolitano, so I flew in to Madrid. Atleti had to win to keep their faint title hopes alive, while Valencia were looking for points to help secure a Champions League spot for next season. The teams traded goals in a heavy downpour, and Atleti won 3-2.
The next night, I headed to the Madrid suburbs to see Getafe host Real Madrid. Real Madrid could lock up a Champions League spot with a point, while Getafe were also looking for a top 4 finish. The match ended 0 – 0.
I headed east to Barcelona. FC Barcelona were hosting Levante that Saturday night, and would clinch their 8th title in 11 years with a win. Levante were trying to avoid relegation. Lionel Messi came on as a half-time substitute and scored the game-winning goal. Barca were champions and I had checked an item off of my bucket list.
Back to the FC Barcelona campus early the next day for the second leg of the women’s Champions League semi-final between FC Barcelona Femeni and Bayern Munich Frauen at the MiniEstadi. Barca had a 1-0 lead after the first leg and they converted a penalty at the end of the first half to win 1-0 (2-0 on aggregate). They would play in the Champions League Final next month against Olympic Lyon in Budapest, but would have to do so without Kheira Hamroui, whose two yellow cards resulted in her dismissal and suspension for the Final.
On Wednesday night, I returned to Camp Nou for the first leg of the men’s Champions League semi-final between Barcelona and Liverpool. Liverpool dominated play, but did not capitalize on their chances and Barcelona took a 3-0 lead in the series. Barca’s advancement to the Final seemed certain…
I headed south along the coast to Valencia. Valencia CF were playing at Arsenal that night in the Europa League. I took a tour of the Mestalla stadium and went to the Levante UD match against Rayo Vallecano the next day. Levante won 4-1 to move closer to safety, while Rayo Vallecano were relegated following the next day’s results.
I returned to Madrid for the Real Madrid match against Villareal. This was the first match since Iker Casillas’s heart attack in training with FC Porto. His name was sung by the Madridistas throughout the match. Real Madrid won 3-2.
Follow Jessica’s journey in real time at @jessicamalone85.