The champion, sun and shade

Have you ever entered an empty stadium? Take the test.

Well not yet. One year, five months and fifteen days later that is over. People far from the Metropolitano. The canned screaming of the fields on television. A year, five months and fifteen days later, the ball has not started rolling in this Atlético-Elche but that other game is already being played, that of the reunions. With the cold beer before going in, Daddy’s hand. With the car ride, looped anthem. With the neighbors so longed for, the seat ones, soccer brothers, to whom something deeper than blood unites. 24,926 are the lucky ones. 24,926 who are entering, between new canvases (from Cholo, captains, champions) and fences, with a mask and without snacks. 24,926 among 68,000 seats that, oh, how they fill, like a hundred thousand. Although there are still people missing, they will return when the capacity is full, when this pandemic that has taken so much is over. To those who never cry that violin from whose strings the hymn springs.

Stand in the middle of the court and listen.

Unemployed are they, the footballers. The champion aside, this Atleti who was in this year in which he lacked his soul, that hobby that thrills, filling the shirt with so much, while Elche makes him corridor. The match began with the Escribá team distressed, despite the three centals and a side (Palacios) for an inside (Josan) of lane, with the defensive line very high, pierced by Atleti again and again. An Atleti with Kondogbia filling the gap of Hermoso, with De Paul starting and Llorente percussive. Atleti tempered, Elche controlled the ball where it does not hurt, its own field, but accumulating men in the central lane. Filling it with ball touch, spider web. The champion, withdrawn, did not know how to break it. Little mobility, triangulation, terrible heat.

There is nothing less empty than an empty stadium.

And nothing more crowded than a stadium with its people. That one that in 39 ‘stands up. Because Kondgobia steals, De Paul looks and sends there, there far away, to uncheck a Correa who, gentlemen, has grown older in this time. Very old. Casilla goes out to someone who doesn’t know exactly where and leaves the door open. First shot on goal. Definition of champion. Tremendous exterior for the squad. El Ángel del Cholo does not go out. And that signing, De Paul, shines if he rubs his boot.

There is nothing less mute than the stands without anyone.

And as soon as he returns from rest, he shouts that u-ru-gua-yo, u-ru-gua-yo how well it looks in the mouth of a rojiblanco. Giménez has just finished off, like Atlético Aviación, a corner, Suárez already warms up on the band. And salivate as Paul pulls another glove pass to Carrasco. How good is that ‘5’ that Tiago made so giant. And that Fidel embodied Elche’s new plan: run, launch the attack. And fill the overwhelming rojiblanco with spider web again.

Because even without the people, the Metropolitan screamed, groaned, sighed, cried, trembled, resounded, spoke, vibrated, and remembered, so far away, in empty stadiums, but also, as Eduardo Galeano once wrote, so close.

Imagine now. That Suárez is already on the field and Simeone reinforces his center with Saúl and Llorente. Elche continues to take steps forward, without frank auctions, but pinching more and more. With Mojica, with Palacios, with Benedetto. Until the messes with the poster and the changes arrive, which stop a Escribá who, until now, has put a shadow on the champion’s sun. Yes, he won, but he did not dominate. POr that time will have passed, a year, five months and fifteen days, but there are ways of living that will never happen in the Metropolitan. Cholo’s grinder arms. Win by suffering.


Luis Suarez (61 ‘, Lemar), Trippier (61 ‘, De Paul), Benedetto (62 ‘, Pere Milla), Josan (81 ‘, Mojica), Tete Morente (81 ‘, Lucas Boyé), Guido Carrillo (81 ‘, Marcone), Renan Augusto (84 ‘, Correa), Diego Gonzalez (85 ‘, Bigas)


Referee: Ricardo de Burgos Bengoetxea
VAR Referee: José Luis González González
Gonzalo verdu (64 ‘, Yellow) Benedetto (86 ‘, Yellow) Luis Suarez (89 ‘, Yellow) Kondogbia (94 ‘, Yellow