Let’s be honest. Some places in the world just speak to us and we don’t know why. It could be entire nations, obscure cities or very specific buildings, corners or points on a street. During this year’s pre-season season, I got the chance to visit one of mine. That place is Teruel, provincial capital of the region of the same name and the most southerly city in semi-autonomous Aragón in Spain’s north-west.
Located 1km high into the air, Teruel is a medieval city of 35,000 people with an abundance of typically Spanish “mudejar” architecture that is consistently overlooked internally, both politically and culturally. As such, the city’s flagship Football club CD Teruel is hardly a big name in Spanish Football even though the city of Teruel had a larger population than Madrid, Barcelona and Bilbao did 1,000 years ago. The story of the city is one of stagnation as many other of the country’s major cities even grew exponentially either as a consequence of colonialism or industrialisation. Nevertheless, any city with a semi-professional Football club worthy of a visit is also worth a home game. It was therefore with relish that we rocked up to the Pinilla stadium for the first game of CD Teruel’s pre-season campaign.
The Pinilla Stadium is a charming ground in the eponymous neighbourhood in Teruel’s south side. One could never describe the city (and therefore CD Teruel’s fanbase) as predominantly working class, but the surrounding factories and functional edifices of identical red bricks peering over the low walls of the ground do contribute to the aesthetic of the place.
The tranquil setting and atmosphere was not matched by the players however. Considering it was a friendly match, players of both CD Teruel and visiting Atlético Levante UD (a feeder club of Levante) were on the aggressive side from the off – 2 players were shown yellow within the first 30 minutes…. of a pre-season friendly. All of it ultimately came to nothing with neither club finding the net – the future stars of Levante’s patience and ability to use the space effectively was ultimately neutralised by Teruel’s aggression and superior ability on the ball.
Once we have taken more time to take a read, we’ll be back with a longer and more analytical post. And we’ll also explain the weird fascination with have had with Teruel that inspired this visit. Keep your eyes peeled.