Sunday, December 10, 2023

The day the Champions League arrived at La Rosaleda

There are melodies that become part of our lives. perpetually. Forever. They are usually linked to a unique and almost always unrepeatable moment in our own history. Somehow, they make us smile. With that same happiness, today it is time to remember the day that changed the life of an entire hobby. And it is that This Monday marks the tenth anniversary of the first time the Champions League anthem was played at La Rosaleda. It was in a playoff match prior to the Group Phase of the highest competition in European football, which ended with a 2-0 win for the Blue and Whites, against Panathinaikosand that meant the team’s pass to the group of the first phase.

It is one of those days in which you remember every detail and if someone did not go to the field, you remember where they were because it was like a dream come true. Because Málaga CF changed the course of its history that night. He earned the right to speak face to face with the greatest, at least for a few months.

That August 22, 2012 has gone down in history. Panathinaikos, beyond the result, will always be linked to one of the most special chapters in the life of Málaga CF. And together with the Greeks, Willy Caballero, Jesús Gámez, Weligton, Demichelis, Monreal, Eliseu, Duda, Joaquín, Toulalan, Maresca, Camacho, Isco, Fabrice Olinga and Buonannote. The 14 players who defended the club’s shield that day to do magic and achieve that 2-0 with goals from Demichelis and Eliseu.

Eliseu, one of Málaga CF’s scorers. | EFE

As if it were a earthquake, the city vibrated from the beginning to the end. From the reception to the after party. He shouted with that ball that Joaquín took from the corner and that Weligton deflected to finish off Demichelis in the first goal. And later, with that cross shot of Eliseu, who made the final 2-0.

It had not been an easy summer. The economic problems already began to appear in the club and the team had to do without stars like Santi Cazorla or Ruud van Nistelrooy. After a historic season like 2011/2012 in which Málaga CF had qualified in the League in fourth position, only behind Real Madrid, Barcelona and Sevilla, the blow during that transfer market was hard. However, the magic of the Champions League made them enjoy the club’s new status.

Pellegrini, the coach who led the team to the Champions League. | GREGORY TORRES

Buonannote commented in the preview of the match that it was “the match we all dream of”. What he didn’t know is that from that day on, many more came. The Champions League anthem sounded again on the Costa del Sol for several more nights, each one more historic. That of Zenit for the debut in the Group Phase in the European elite. The one of the immeasurable victory against a historical like AC Milan. Borussia’s in the quarterfinals…

This Monday marks the tenth anniversary of the first time. The day that Málaga CF started knocking on the door of continental football. What happened in the following weeks and months is one of the most beautiful chapters in the history of white and blue football. Now the reality is another. The team is in Second with that glorious past very present and a future to be defined.


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