If These Muddy Highlights From Portugal’s Top Flight Don’t Bring Back Memories, You Didn’t Play Soccer Growing Up

We all played in one of these games at some point in our lives.

Play soccer long enough and you’ll compete in all sorts of weather. Rain, wind, snow, sleet, sand — I have stories of playing in them all, and I’m sure you do too. One of the best (or worst) conditions to play in was on full display on Friday with this muddy game in Portugal between Nacional and Sporting Lisbon at the Estádio de Madeira. 

Unlike youth soccer fields, most top-flight pitches are kept in pristine order throughout the year. But on occasion even the best leagues have matches played in the worst conditions.

Friday’s Nacional-Sporting match will remind many of us of some of the muddy games we played in as kids, when there weren’t highly paid groundskeepers ensuring a quality playing field. 

Sporting won 2-0 on the day to extend its lead atop the Primeira Liga table. It was as one-sided as 2-0 games get, with the visitors racking up 24 shots to just six for the home team. The real story was the mud.

The field at the Estádio de Madeira was actually in decent shape before kickoff. The match was actually scheduled for Thursday but postponed due to bad weather conditions. 

With a steady rain in Madeira, an island off the coast of Africa most famous for being the birthplace of Cristiano Ronaldo, the field deteriorated throughout the match. Anyone who’s played soccer knows the goal mouths are torn up first, and such was the case on Friday. 

Just take a look at Nacional keeper Daniel diving to attempt a save only to get up covered in mud from head to toe. His scream as he wiped the wet slop away from his eyes says it all.

Despite the awful playing surface, Sporting managed to score two goals, once before the end of each half. 

Nuno Santos found the opener in the 43rd minute and immediately took advantage of the slick field to slide about 10 feet on his bum.

Jovane Cabral completed the scoring just as the clock struck 90, with Daniel looking like he had his feet stuck in the mud.

Here’s another angle of the goal filmed from the pitch, which shows just how bad the field was at the end. The assistant referee is standing a yard or so off the sideline to stay away from a mud pit.

You could argue the muddy game in Portugal shouldn’t have been played, but you can’t deny it’s fun to see the professionals play in the same shitty conditions we all played in as kids. And as we’ve seen already this year, the pros can handle any condition thrown at them, be in snow in England or a lake in Africa.

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