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Malaga v Espanyol

After a night out to celebrate a friend’s birthday in Marbella, and a few too many glasses of wine, it was always going to be a struggle to get up early on a Sunday for a midday kick-off at the La Rosaleda stadium – but get up we did, and on time.

Having scooped up Paul Breen Turner on route (thankfully as I had no idea where we were heading) we made our way out of Marbella and to the stadium in plenty of time. Paul gave Hannah and I a quick tour of the stadium and we made our way to the commentary box ready to watch the ground fill up and of course have the traditional football match hotdog.

It was strange because right up until about five minutes before the match the ground was half empty. Then all of a sudden you looked up and there was some 25,000 people taking their seats ready for Malaga v Espanyol.

As we looked around the stadium there was a St Georges cross in one corner with about 1,000 expat English fans who have become known as the ‘Guiri Army’ (guiri is a nickname the Spanish use for English). They were pretty much the start point for all singing and chanting.

Up in the other corner, opposite the Brits was a Finland flag and these were the Fins that are also regulars at every home game.

People travel to watch home matches from lots of different places on the Costa del Sol. Marbella has a regular supporters clubs as does Fuengirola.

With headphones on the game kicked off and Paul Breen Turner slipped into commentary mode with Chris and Kenny supporting from the studio in Marbella. It’s not until you are watch the commentary first hand that you really appreciate how much of a skill it actually is.

It is an art being able to refer to players, watch the referee and linesman, spot people in the crowd, keep an eye on the touchline, comment on past encounters and future matches and provide a live picture of what is happening on the pitch.

This was Malaga’s first game since making their way through to the Champions League quarter finals for the first time in their history, watched by celebrity fan Antonio Banderas. There was a real buzz around the ground. However on the pitch it was clear to see that Malaga FC were suffering from sheer exhaustion and it was a rare mistake from Malaga’s in-form goalkeeper Willy Caballero that resulted in the first goal for Espanyol.

There were a couple of chances for Malaga but in the main it was a lackluster performance and despite dominating possession Malaga were not able to make it count and Espanyol got another goal to finish the game winners by two goals.

The fans were amazing though and they continued to sing and chant for their team. It really was an amazing atmosphere and I think Hannah and I will most certainly be going back to watch more matches at the La Rosaleda.

If I had to choose one moment from the match that really stuck in my mind it would have to be Hannah Murray and Jamie Lee of Marbella bases Talk Radio Europe turning their hands to 60 seconds of commentary for the start of the second half – PRICELESS!

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