Sutton United's home clash with Arsenal in the FA Cup on Monday night may have reminded English audiences of the magic of the ancient competition, but the really spellbinding fixture of the week will take place on Wednesday in the early evening. Forget the Champions League fixtures, as intriguing as they may be; similarly, the Europa League is but a minor distraction in comparison. I am, of course, talking about a huge international friendly.
Now this game may have passed under the radar of the less-observant, but it hasn't escaped our attention. We struck up an excited conversation on twitter when we discovered that these two nations (I think they're both sovereign states) were going to be matching up in what can only be described as the most epic, the most highly anticipated and the most ridiculously pointless international friendly in history. San Marino, that once unheard of and now merely easily forgotten footballing nation, face up against Andorra at the Olimpico di Serravalle (in San Marino. And yes, I had to Google where it was to be sure it wasn't at a neutral ground. You know what those San Marino ultras are like). Andorra are of course slightly better known, although certainly not for their football, but quite why these two decided to spar on Champions League night is beyond us.
Seeing as most of their players are semi-pros at best (and surely any that are professional will have to stay with their clubs? It isn't an international break so they wouldn't have to, or want to, trek across Europe for a "prestige" friendly...?) you would imagine they would be more keen on watching the night's Champions League offerings, especially because Italian side Juventus will be playing Porto. Maybe that's why it has been scheduled in the early evening, to give them all time to get to the pub after the end of the game. Ah, the magic of minor international friendlies lives on... None of your faked pie eating stories here!
Andorra come into the match in much the better form, having actually drawn one of their last 6 games (yeah, they both lost the last five so I had to go back a little further to split them). Their away draw in Azerbaijan is actually quite impressive, probably, and Andorra look good value for the tag of favourites. They have only conceded 15 goals in the last 5 games, in comparison to the 29 of their hosts. Both sides have only scored once in that time though, so a high-scoring encounter looks to be off the cards. Andorra's top scorer in Euro 2016 qualifying, Ildefons Lima, actually scored 3 times in that campaign, to the one of San Marino's most prolific scorer Matteo Vitaioli, but the FC Santa Colma defender (?!) may have the best years of his career behind him at 37. I don't even know for sure if he's retired or not. Soccerway has his current season numbers as "Minutes ? Goals ? Assists?..." You get the picture.
So: a friendly between two terrible footballing nations, without any of their professionals available to them, both with awful scoring records and with the match being played in front of a maximum of 7000 fans. Important to reiterate that it is a maximum. If anyone can find a stream I would highly recommend you alert Amazon, because whoever is filming it on Facebook Live probably needs a portable charger to get through the whole game.
It should be a cracking build up to the Champions League matches so I hope everyone takes the time to watch what should be a fascinating clash.
San Marino vs. Andorra
5.30pm UK/ 6.30pm CET
Olimpico di Serravalle, San Marino
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