Tue, 07 Apr 2020

La Liga's players swapped boots for controllers and Real Madrid still won as Spanish football tried to fill the void of an empty fixture list with a FIFA playstation tournament last weekend.

Marco Asensio, who has been out with a ruptured cruciate ligament since July last year, pressed the right buttons to give Madrid one of their less prestigious titles after a 4-2 win over Leganes representative Aitor Ruibal in Sunday's final.

The tournament raised around €180 000 for UNICEF and the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, while the final gained almost 170 000 viewers on Twitch, the live streaming platform used by gamers.

With professional football in Spain suspended until further notice to limit the spread of the virus, clubs and players have had to be more creative.

And the Spanish media were quick to capitalise on any sniff of competition as Marca devoted more than 25 articles to the virtual tournament while three of Spain's leading commentators provided live commentary.

There was even controversy as Barcelona's Sergi Roberto and Real Mallorca's Alejandro Pozo had to withdraw, given both clubs are sponsored by Konami, the creators of FIFA's rival, Pro Evolution Soccer.

Each entered team selected one player to represent them, with Real Betis forward Borja Iglesias among the most committed. Iglesias walked into his living room for kick-off as if preparing for a real match in a packed-out stadium.

Iglesias had a hand in the idea for the tournament too after he had played the postponed Seville derby between Real Betis and Sevilla by facing off on FIFA against Sevilla's Sergio Reguilon.

But the project was pushed through by Ibai Llanos, Spain's most famous esports commentator, who initially suggested the idea in a post to his 1.2 million followers.

Asensio, who fought off competition from Dani Carvajal and Thibaut Courtois to represent Real Madrid, posted a video of himself celebrating while wearing the club shirt.

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