Club name: Club Portugalete
Level: Tercera División
Stadium: Estadio La Florida
Maximum Capacity: 3,000
Ticket Prices: 15€ for an adult
How to arrive: Metro to Portugalete station then a 10 minute walk.
My travels through the lower reaches of Basque Country football continued on a surprisingly warm and sunny Wednesday morning as I went to the All Saints Day Tercera División fixture between Club Portugalete and Santutxu Fc. With Santutxu performing above expectations and Portugalete below them, this game had all the ingredients required to be a great clash and it did not disappoint at all.
Portugalete is part of a chain of industrial towns and neigbourhoods that lie on the River Nervion’s western bank. For hundreds of year the focal point of the city has been it’s busy port and shipbuilding industry, in fact hundreds of years ago the port was the most important in the province of Bizkaia, if not Spain, before its commercial rights were taken away and gifted to the rapidly growing city of Bilbao. Nowadays, Portugalete is most famous for being one of the most densely populated districts in Spain: the town has a total area of 3.21km with roughly 47,756 residents meaning there is approximately 15,000 people per square kilometre. In addition to this, Portugalete contains the Puente Bizkaia, a transporter bridge which carries traffic and pedestrians over the River Nervion, from Portugalete to Getxo, in a carriage that is suspended and transported over the water by wires that are attached to the bridge’s frame. Puente Bizkaia is the oldest of only a few types of this bridge like this in the world and was designated a Unesco world heritage site in 2006.
The entity that is now known as Club Portugalete or, Portu for short, originated in 1909 as Club Deportivo Portugalete, but over the years that proceeded the club underwent various changes in name becoming Portugalete FC in 1921 and Portugalete Chiqui during the Spanish Civil War. After the war in 1944, the club adopted the name Nuevo Club Portugalete but over time they dropped the Nuevo thus arriving at their current moniker. Throughout it’s history the club has mostly competed in the Tercera División although in recent years they have also played a couple of seasons in the Segunda División B (2005/06 & 2015/16) but were immediately relegated both times. They also achieved some notoriety in the 2008/09 season when a cup run took them to the 4th round where they were knocked out by La Liga giants Valencia.
Since Christmas Day 1951, the side have called the Estadio La Florida their home. The stadium is right in the heart of the neigbourhood, it has one main seated stand on one side of the pitch and a large concrete terrace on the other. As well as this, there is plenty of standing space and a bar where you can buy a beer for 2€ and some pintxos for around the same price. The fans were loud,enthusiastic and numerous; there was a noteworthy crowd around the rest of the ground.
Down to Logistics
Getting to La Florida is relatively simple and the easiest way of getting there is definitely by metro. The ground lies in between the metros of Kabiezes, Peñota and the closest which is Portugalete. I went to the Portugalete metro so I’ll explain how to get to the stadium from there -but it would be quite easy to find from any of those if needed. First of all, you need to get on a metro that goes on Line 2 heading towards Kabiezes, Portugalete is one of the last stops and from Bilbao it takes around 15 minutes to get there. Once at Portugalete, take the exit that says Carlos VII, from here you should be able to see Calle Doctor José Zaldua, walk up this street and on the right you’ll see La Florida. The ticket office is a small window in the corner of the stadium, it’s quite well hidden but there should be a queue outside of it. From here, you can purchase a ticket for 15€, then you enter the stadium through the main gate, on the right, up the road.
With, the exception of Santutxu seeing a shot go over the bar in the 2nd minute and a Portu free kick in the 14th minute that sailed over the crossbar, the first quarter hour saw little action as both sides tried to impose their particular style of play upon the other. In the 17th minute, man of the match Infante made his first mark on the game and demonstrated his capabilites has he received the ball out on his right wing before cutting in and audaciously trying to chip the ball over the keeper. However, from here onwards Portu began to look more assured, with central midfielder Corres constantly looking to collect possession and dictate the tempo of the game whilst his midfield partner Cubería also did an excellent job of breaking up play and winning possession back for his team; his height and physicality instrumental in combating Santutxu’s route one tactics.
The key moment in the first half didn’t come until the 41st minute when danger man Infante scored an absolute screamer, he collected the ball out wide, cutting in and flying past his marker before letting rip with his left and sending the ball directly into the top right corner of the net, thus ensuring Portu took the lead into the break.
After the break, Portu fully took control of the fixture as Santutxu seemed to unravel. The first signs of danger came in the first minute when Infante sent in cross which was controlled by 10 before being shot over. Then again in the 51st minute, Infante was the instigator yet again as his cross was expertly met by striker Bonilla who dodged his marker to head the ball past Santutxu’s keeper. Santutxu made some changes in an attempt to try claw their way back into the game but they failed to reap any rewards Basically, Santutxu failed to find a plan B to their direct style of play and the Portugalete defence dealt with it comprehensively. For example, the strong and assured Portu centre-back Jon Moya won most of his aerial duels, and it only got easier for him as Santutxu brought on the skilful but diminutive 14 Txaka to go up against him. The final nail in the coffin came in the 77th minute when Portu 10 Gabriel Ortega’s replacement Roberto Platero met another beautiful cross from Infante to score with his first touch of the ball, leading to a final score of 3-0.
A fun and attractive stadium, with a great atmosphere and some fantastic fans. The ground had a vibrant and friendly feel which made the on-field antics even more enjoyable. My groundhopping adventure through Basque football continues but Portu was definitely a great and worthwhile stop along the way. I hope to be able to return to La Florida again in the future.