I had three hours sleep. At 8AM the Chinese guests in our cosmopolitan hotel were doing their exercises in slow motion. Heaps of new guests were checking in. Many from Denmark – though I guess they would quickly have to get off to the airport to get to their game later today.
Leaving the hotel at noon, the Moscow metro was superb as always. I am happy with my schedule. A mix of epic long haul flights, some days sleeping on aeroplanes and not seeing my hotel room but sprinkled in between were some matches in the capital city.
The hosts were playing Spain. Surely a comfortable 4-0 win for the Spanish. That is what I hoped for anyway.
The normal hard core fans you see at UEFA Champions League games at the likes of Spartak Moscow are no where to be seen here. Most fans are day trippers, middle class people, wanting to be seen on their social media accounts that they were there.
Today I struggled. The light was an issue. Not like with train companies who blame leaves on the line but shooting under freshly installed daylight lights at night game is so much more easier. The light is very toppy – meaning shadows in the faces is a problem. Although it looks amazing on TV, the floodlights are no where near strong enough to even fill in the daylight sun.
The game went into extra time. Spain could not break through. This was not parking the bus, it was parking the tank. The Spanish Armada were defeated. I ended up with countless number of stock pictures. Getting action was incredibly difficult as no one was really tacking or challenging for the ball.
With myself and Japanese Miki sitting amongst the Moscow camera club – borrowing cameras from Nikon and Canon and spectacularly unable to abide by the unwritten rules of football photographer protocol in moving your lens so to not block your colleague, I was in a clam mood. Extra time ensured that I got another 56 pictures of Sergio Ramos kicking the ball. Today was another day I am glad that I do not work for a newspaper as such. Football is football and picture editors demand action shots. Quite sincerely I got nothing!
And it started raining during the remainder of the game, but at least the sun was then in and photographically things were easier even though physically my already sweat drenched t-shirt was wet again from the sometimes heavy rain.
We all know the score. Russia won on penalties. I was gutted for them. I’m normally very numb and just do my job but feelings of deflation were felt when Russia scored the winning spot kick. My camera was never trained on the winners. At this stage of the tournament I prefer to capture the dejection of the losing team.
Iniesta announcing his International retirement after the game, I will only be able to photograph him again in Japan as he is off to play in the beautiful city of Kobe.
Sergio Ramos was in tears.
Being used to thumping teams 4-0, and with most playing for Barcelona or Real Madrid and being accustomed to annual successes, the Spanish players did not know what to do.
Spain were one of my tips to be the winner. What do I know about football!
During the qualification rounds I followed Spain quite a bit. My highlight was when they demolished the Italians 4-0 in Real Madrid’s stadium. The wonderful Spanish FA helping me secure a ticket on the 5th tier of the wonderful stadium for a friend. At the end of that match I was sure that I had seen the winners of the World Cup. Not so!
I feel more angry about them being knocked out than having my medicine stolen.!
Two more weeks and it will all be over. Things are picking up pace now we are at the business end of the tournament. Only two more games and it is the Quarter Finals. The month of July seemed like it would never happen during the first week. Now the days are flying past.
The metro was full of people unaware that the FIFA World Cup was going on. Even though the Denmark v Croatia game was show live in train carriages, not everyone is caught up with the event. Some enthusiastic singing of “RU_SS_IA” echoed down the deep tunnels in the amazing metro.
Adios Madrid. No estoy feliz.