As well as the perks associated with playing FIFA 13 for a living, some of the FIWC Grand Finalists in Madrid had an extra special treat on Tuesday as they got the opportunity to play futsal alongside two European championship-winning midfielders – Christian Karembeu and Ruben de la Red.
The 21 FIWC participants travelled to the Spanish FA headquarters for an exhibition match, a tour around the national team museum and a talk with French World Cup-winning midfielder Christian Karembeu and former-Bayern Munich and Celtic forward Alan McInally.
But the undoubted highlight was the chance to play alongside de la Red – a former-Real Madrid midfielder and Spain international.
The 27-year-old retired in 2010 after suffering a heart scare, but enjoyed a hugely successful career, winning the European championship with Spain in 2008 and La Liga with Real Madrid in 2007.
With Karembeu and de la Red on opposite teams, the two ex-internationals entered into an entertaining game of one-upsmanship – each trying to outdo the other with tricks, flicks, nutmegs and lobs from long range.
The FIWC Grand Finalists joined in the fun, German participant Kai Wollin combining with a teammate to score a beautiful back-heel goal late on.
The high-scoring affair looked to be set for a Karembeu victory, and the Frenchman was pleading with his teammates to withdraw into their own half as the minutes ticked away and they bid to hold onto a slender 10-9 lead.
Cries of ‘Defend, defend!’ echoed around the Spanish FA futsal arena, but this time Karembeu couldn't call on the talents of Marcel Desailly, Laurent Blanc or Lillian Thuram to see it out.
And his pleas went unheeded, a last-second goal enough to secure a share of the spoils for de la Red's side – a 10-10 draw.
The 21 FIWC Grand Finalists have now been whittled down to just eight, with the final showpiece set for Wednesday evening at the Teatro Goya.
You can watch the Grand Final at www.youtube.com/fifatv. The action begins at 18:00 CET.
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