Friday, August 15, 2014
Cardiff City stadium - Real Madrid v Seville - or the Cristiano Ronaldo Show
When I told people beforehand that I had secured tickets for the Europa League Final, hardly anyone knew it was in Cardiff. "You do know it's the women's Europa Final, don't you?" said one pal. Even those that did assumed it would be at the Millenium Stadium, scene of a famous cup win in 2002. But no, this was at a ground I'd not visited before and one I didn't fancy trekking to for a Championship game to be honest.
It was an artful, tactical passing game, with a few hard challenges going in, but quite a contrast to what else we're going to see this season, I suspect. I was taken in particular with how the movement off the ball was so impressive by both sides, but also how hard they had to work, just to close down an option for an attacking player.
All in all, we had a fantastic day out. One of the lads mentioned towards the end how Spanish fans were so much better too. Maybe this was a one off - a final - and maybe we were sat amongst polite Spanish people as opposed to some of the louts we've encountered recently, but the displays of colour and noise from the Seville fans was something else.
As a day out it was also good to visit Cardiff again - a city centre that has improved massively in recent years, but still could do with a bit of love in places. The St David's Centre is good as far as sterile shopping centres go, even Chip Alley (Caroline Street) seemed to be a bit smarter.
The stadium has a good atmosphere, excellent site lines and I was pleased to see blue seats. Cardiff will always be blue and it upsets me to see the mess Vincent Tan has made of the club with his colour change.
And it was a new ground for me. Of the current 92 it is number 67. I lost Torquay and Macclesfield recently, but regained Mansfield and Cambridge. I have Rotherham, Fleetwood, Morecambe and Millwall in my sights. Oh the joys. And of the grand total it's 140.