Tuesday, November 07, 2017

CS Fola Esch – FC Déifferdéng 03 (15-10-2017)

The last game of our groundhopweekend, which included four games in four countries in three days, was in Luxembourg, a destination that I feel is too often shunned by my fellow groundhoppers. Fortunately, my brother shares my soft spot for football in the Groussherzogtum Lëtzebuerg, so on a remarkably warm and sunny Sunday afternoon in October, we drive to the small town of Esch-sur-Alzette to visit one of their three (!) clubs in the Luxembourg National Division, the top division in the country.

Having parked our car on the hilly small road next to the stadium, we are blows away by the entrance to the Stade Émile Mayrisch, home to the Cercle sportif Fola Esch (Sporting Circle Fola Esch), better known as Fola Esch or simply Fola. It is the oldest club, which was founded by an English language teacher in 1906. They play in the oldest stadium in the country, which has a majestueuse façade, behind which hides a pretty basic football and athletics stadium with one modest covered stand. The total capacity is 4,900.

We get a general admission ticket for 10. As we are early, we visit the little canteen and get some coffee, before the snack bar opens up to provide us with excellent fries and sausages. After that, we sit on the simpler bleachers, as the weather is too good to be covered. There are roughly 500 people, some 100 fans of FC Déifferdéng 03, who have made the 10 km trip from neighboring Differdange.

In the 5th minute the visitors head the ball softly at the goalie. Six minutes later the hosts attack, but the player hits over the ball. After fifteen minutes we have the first (weak) shot at goal, from FC03. The next play Fola loses the ball in midfield, FC03 passes the ball to the striker, who shoots at goal from the penalty box: 0-1. Three minutes later, as I’m still circling the pitch to take some pictures, Fola shoots from 20 meters, low, but the goalie jumps over it: 1-1.

While the pace and quality of the play remain quite mediocre, the game itself is entertaining. In the 22nd minute the Fola goalie tips a good shot wide, and the next minute the F03 makes a good safe at a shot of the striker. Five minutes later both goalies have made another good safe, one after shot from close by, and one from a clever free kick.

In the 32nd minute a surprise attack leads to a Fola player making himself free, tricking the defender, and then passing to a free teammate, who scores from 2 meters: 2-1. Although there are several more chances, the half time score is 2-1.

The second half is even crazier. Within the first fifteen minutes Fola scores two more goals from close range, after exceptionally clumsy defense by FC03. In the 70th minute Fola counters, a cross is missed by all, which leads to an easy finish and a stunning 5-1 score.

But we are not done yet. As the away fans around us get a bit grumpy, Fola again counters, but this time the goalie saves well. Two minutes later, in the 81st minute, a Fola defender launches a beautiful long ball, which is controlled by an attacker, who goes around a defender, pulls around the goalie, and finishes easily: 6-1!

The majority of away fans who are still in the stadium, mainly because of the good weather, get a little bit of consolidation when FC03 finally has a good attack again, which leads to a cool finished: 6-2. Two minutes later, they have another attack, which is finished from 2 meters: 6-3. There are no more goals in the last five minutes of the game.

This was my eighth game in Luxembourg and definitely the most entertaining – although almost all have been very entertaining. However, 9 goals, while sitting in the sun and being able to use free wifi, all for just 10 – not to speak of the delicious snacks, which were also very affordable – can hardly be beaten, not in Luxembourg, and not anywhere else.

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