Viva Espana

Yesterday evening my beloved and I went to watch a live Euro 2016 match.  We already knew first-hand what happens to the traffic on a match night at the Allianz Riviera stadium during the Championships – gridlock. So we set off three hours before kick-off. We parked easily enough at the Municipal Markets (MIN) Park & Ride, our usual parking spot for any OGC Nice home match before paying Euros 3,00 each for a return bus ride to the stadium. I wouldn’t have minded but the bus dropped us off about two kilometres from the stadium. Fortunately, the sun was shining, I was wearing comfortable shoes, looking forward to seeing Spain v Turkey and we had plenty of time on our hands.

The security was spot on. It’s the first time I’ve been properly searched before entering the stadium. There were a few fans milling around outside where a couple of stands were selling cold beverages, hot dogs and sandwiches. We skipped the refreshments and headed to our seats. We were in the Spanish end of the stadium, behind the goal, usually home to OGCN’s Ultras. It’s a great spot and not bad for Euros 55,00 a head. We splashed out on a couple of bottles of water. The catering is much improved by comparison with the old Stade du Ray but it’s essentially beer, cold drinks, French fries, hot dogs and sandwiches. I feel they’ve missed a trick for tonight’s match, they should have laid on kebabs and tapas.

during the UEFA EURO 2016 Group D match between Spain and Turkey at Allianz Riviera Stadium on June 17, 2016 in Nice, France.
Opening ceremony

Three of the Spaniards wore long-sleeved shirts and sported over the knee socks. Wise move, it got chilly when the sun went down.

SPAIN
SPAIN

As the “away” squad,  Turkey had to wear their fashionable tie-dye turquoise shirts.

TURKEY
TURKEY

 

The Gamemaker Iniesta
The Maestro, Andres Iniesta

You’ll have read the match reports. The Spanish played a mesmerising game orchestrated by Iniesta. The Turks’ Plan A contained the Spanish for the first 30 minutes though you felt it was only a matter of time before Spain broke free and scored. Thereafter, the Turks were far too static, seemingly bereft of further ideas. Clearly, no Plan B. Or maybe, they too were enthralled by the skills on display. Did Spain really only enjoy 67% of possession? It felt like so much more.

But it wasn’t just on the pitch where the Spanish scored. Their fans really dressed for the occasion. I lost count of the number in fancy dress.

A few aging matadors
Ole!

I saw plenty of  fans wearing those spotted dresses more usually seen on flamenco dancers. Here’s one of them.

A few senoritas
A few senoritas

The Turkish fans had weight of numbers of their side and, thanks to Euro 2016 sponsor Turkish Airlines, had plenty of flags to waive. Despite the body searches, a few managed to smuggle in flares which they set off at the end of the match. That aside, there was no trouble either inside or outside of the stadium.

Post-match flares up the Turkish end
Post-match flares at the Turkish end

As we made our way back to the buses, some two kilometres down the road, under the watchful eyes of the riot police, the mood was one of celebration. We’d just enjoyed a fantastic display of football. Maybe the defending champions would successfully retain their title after all. Oh, in case you’re interested, Alvaro Morata, who scored two of Spain’s three goals, was my man of the match.

Morata, man of the match
Morata, man of the match

All images supplied by Getty Images

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