I was struck by the first appearance of Solari, an educated, cultured, well informed, refined type; a contributor to El País in recent times. He premieres in Melilla tonight and announced that they will go there and play with character and guts, using the impactful Spanish phrase 'con dos cojones'. 'And españolia,' he failed to add to complete the phrase made by General Gómez Zamalloa in 1948 Zurich, haranguing the national team at half-time against Switzerland. That comment provoked an ironic comment from Pahíño, who was cursed from then on. Now, the flamboyant Madrid manager calls for those 'balls' ahead of the trip to Melilla, a team that will undoubtedly feel honoured to see the importance seemingly given to this match from the current manager of the most successful team in history.
Positive news for Melilla
It is good that Madrid will take that character with them across the Strait of Gibralter, along with Vinicius, who has already proved himself very capable against lower level opposition, which is what today is about. In Melilla, there is a passionate expectation surrounding Madrid's arrival. There will be 7,200 spectators, 1,200 of them in additional temporary stands. Los Blancos have not played there since two very distant friendlies, back in the 1940s, from which there will be few eyewitnesses remaining. This game has a value of giving the city a more pleasant presence on Spanish news, beyond refugee assaults on the fence. I am sorry that Madrid's squad didn't travel yesterday and stay longer there. It feels disrespecful to arrive on matchday.
Melilla has its own history
I like Melilla. You should visit it if you can. It has a unique modernist town centre and people there are eager to share their concerns with fellow citizens of the Peninsula, those who often feel forgotten. The team had a couple of good streaks in the Segunda division, during the fifties and sixties, thanks in large part to players in great shape who served in the military there. Yanko Daucik being one example. Now that the military has gone from there, they have lost that resource, just like Racing de Ferrol, but continue their struggle to maintain a dignified place in Spanish football. Today they will receive an injection of money and popularity. Congratulations Melilla.