UD Ibiza v FC Barcelona: The Scene is Set

Today is not an ordinary day. Today is 22 January 2020, a date that will forever be marked in red in the history of sport in Ibiza.

Today, for the first time ever, the world famous FC Barcelona pay a visit to the White Isle. They have never played here before, not even in a friendly match yet today they will step out to the artificial grass of Can Misses Stadium to face UD Ibiza in the last 32 of the Spains biggest cup competition, the Copa del Rey, the Cup of Kings. Today, without a doubt, is a very special day.

6,500 spectators will be there in the stadium adorned for the occasion with greater lighting and extra stands to accommodate a couple of thousand more lucky fans who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to be there. The vast majority of those people queued for hours to get a ticket, some for almost 24 hours, incredible but true.

Also incredible was that in just four hours all the general public tickets were sold out with many fans unable to acquire a ticket despite having been part of the queue that stretched back for more than 300 metres

Extra stands have been erected

The wait and expense was surely worth it as they will see the most important game in the history of Ibiza. Unfortunately Leo Messi won’t be there having been rested but nearly all of the other football heavyweights will be present as only Busquets and Piqué are left at home.

New Barça coach Quique Setien, who only arrived at the club last week, replacing the sacked Ernesto Valverde, obviously doesn’t want any surprises so he has chosen to bring a very strong side to try to avoid a catastrophe.

Barça Squad

The starting XI for Barça will include up to 7 of the usual first team with either Lenglet or Umtiti at the back, probably the former, who was rested in the last game against Granada, although they could both play given the other choice is the inexperienced Chumi.

The midfield of Barça would strike fear into any team with Rakitic, Vidal, De Jong, Arthur, the emerging Riqui Puig and Sergi Roberto available for selection.

In attack the 100 million man Antoine Griezmann looks like he will start in the absence of Messi and injures to Luis Suárez and Dembelé. Carles Pérez and Ansu Fati, the youngest scorer in history in the Champions League may also get the nod while Abel Ruiz will wait for his opportunity from the bench.

It remains to be seen if Setién starts with the usual 4-3-3 or if he tests his 3-5-2 with two lanes in the midfield.

UD Ibiza coach (and ex Barça player) Pablo Alfaro is expected to start with his strongest line up on the big night, maybe with some rotation, in a match that will gather headlines around the world.

Injury to Morillas diminishes the left wing options and with Rubén González also doubtful it could force the coach to select Grima and Kike López out wide.

The experience of Javi Lara, who began as a substitute in the last match versus Rayo Majadahonda, will be the pillar on which UD will rely. Javi Pérez should also start in midfield where the big question is whether Toni Arranz or Miguel Núñez will get the other spot.

Top scorer Rodado will start up top with the option of Cirio and Caballé while Mendoza and Raí will probably await their opportunity to provide impact from the bench.

UD Ibiza will go in search of not only dreamland but also a 10th straight game without loss in the League and Cup.

A football party is about to be served and everyone on the island and many around the world are looking forward to kick off with nervous excitement.

Football really is the Beautiful Game!


22 January 2020
UD Ibiza v FC Barcelona
Copa del Rey – Last 32
K.O 19.00 at Can Misses Stadium
Live on DAZN

Adapted from article by Tomi Sanchez in Diario de Ibiza 22/1/2020

Balearics Must Tackle Other Issues as well as Anti-Social Drinking

The Balearic Government’s new laws designed to crack down on alcohol excess have made front page news around the globe and started off many debates. 

Balearic politicians have decided to target bar crawls, happy hours, ‘balconing’ and party boats in 3 specific geographical areas, namely Magaluf and Arenal in Mallorca and the West End of San Antonio in Ibiza.

It’s no secret that these areas have a reputation for cheap alcohol coupled with a clientele of mainly young British tourists on a limited holiday budget. 

While some will see this as negative press others will see it as an overdue crackdown and many resorts around the world will be watching closely to see whether these new laws could be useful in their own tourist hot spots. 

The frustrating thing from a local perspective is that while the selling of cheap alcohol is undoubtedly an issue there are other problems in these areas such as pickpockets, prostitutes and illegal street selling that seem to be continually overlooked.

Ironically when questioned local politicians say that they are inhibited by existing laws. Double standards? When you live and work in these areas and your teenage kids roam the same summer streets as tourists then you want zero tolerance on the most important issues and excessive alcohol sales isn’t top of the list.

Here in San Antonio bar crawls haven’t been around for years but unscrupulous bar owners offer ridiculously cheap drinks deals to passing youngsters that can only result in one outcome so any new laws against this are welcome in my opinion.

Party boats aren’t a massive issue as most are well controlled after previous unsavoury incidents required them to get their house in order whilst anything that deters youngsters from jumping from one balcony to another can only be a good thing. 

But what will it really mean after the furore has died down? The reality is that laws are only effective if they are implemented with vigour, fairness and stealth and this is where we have previously come unstuck in the Balearics and it’s worth noting that San Antonio already has a shortage of local police officers. 

Ultimately it is local business owners who need to self police to ensure that not only do they protect the reputation of the resort but also the welfare of youngsters, many who are on their first ever holiday abroad.

Getting the balance right is the biggest challenge and anything that focuses on protecting young tourists whilst also trying to change the perception of much maligned resorts should be applauded however the jury is still out as to whether this is a serious initiative or just political rhetoric that will soon be forgotten about.

Written exclusively for the TTG – Read article here

Ibiza’s Biggest Ever Football Match

On Tuesday morning on my regular slot with Radio 1 Mallorca I said to presenter Richie Prior that it would it be amazing if UD Ibiza drew a big team in the last 32 of the Copa Del Rey…..well they don’t come any bigger than FC Barcelona – officially the biggest club in the world (in revenues).

‘Big’ is an overused word but this is the biggest game in the history of football on the island of Ibiza. Historians may argue differently and there have been some big matches in the past, all of which are etched in local folklore, but when you consider the global reach of modern day football coupled with the irresistible allure of FC Barcelona (even if they field a team of youngsters), this game is as big as it gets for the White Isle.

Full credit must go to UD Ibiza who play in the 3rd tier of Spanish football and especially their ultra ambitious president Amadeo Salvo who has pumped in plenty of his own money with a clear strategy to bring big time football to the island whilst simultaneously utilising the brand of Ibiza.

It doesn’t take a genius to understand the possibilities when combining the world’s most popular sport with the world’s most famous island and Sr Salvo’s previous experience as President of CF Valencia has taught him well. Everything about UD Ibiza from their social media to match day organisation tells you that El Presidente isn’t going to stop until he reaches the highest level possible.

UD Ibiza have been steadily climbing the table and have a realistic chance of gaining promotion to the Spanish 2nd division which is the gateway to La Liga and weekly games against the big boys not to mention the money that that brings in. But for now the focus will be on the Catalan giants coming to town.

The downside to a fixture of this magnitude is that the Can Misses stadium only holds around 5000 spectators although they are trying to increase the capacity to 7000 by erecting extra stands on the night. Tickets go on sale from tomorrow but on a football mad island with around 200,000 inhabitants it’s not a good equation for genuine football fans looking for tickets.

Everyone will want to be there on the night that the superstars of Barcelona came to Ibiza to play football (rather than relaxing on super yachts or partying at Ushuaïa) but it will be impossible to fit everyone in however the upside is that the spotlight will be on Ibiza on what will be an unforgettable night regardless of the score.

Scalps don’t come any bigger than Barça and on a relatively small, artificial pitch with a fervent home following you never know what might happen. Of course Barcelona will win comfortably…..won’t they?