This is Sheriff Tiraspol, the team without a nation that will face Inter and Real Madrid in the 2021/22 Champions League

This is Sheriff Tiraspol, the team without a nation that will face Inter and Real Madrid in the 2021/22 Champions League

Lautaro Martínez looks up at the sky while yelling a goal and sees, on a small pole located at the top of the stands, the soviet hammer and sickle.

The super professional Real Madrid micro circulates, before the curious gaze of citizens, by an avenue called Karl Liebknecht, in homage to the founder of the German Communist Party.

Karim Benzema kicks a free kick in a city whose Most important statue is that of Lenin.

These imaginary scenes, which at first sound implausible, can come true from this month because the Moldovan team Sheriff Tiraspol qualified for the first time in its history to the UEFA Champions League group stage, and will share a zone with Nerazzurro (they will face him on 10/19 and 11/03) and Merengue (with which they will be measured on 09/28 and 11/24), in addition to Shakhtar Donetsk.

El Sheriff is a club founded in 1997 in Transnistria, a state that proclaims itself independent but is not recognized as such by the international community. According to official maps, it is a region of Moldova.

And although Transnistria has its own president and its own currencySheriff made a wise decision from the beginning: to participate in the Moldavian professional soccer league, which, as it is approved by UEFA, gives the champion the chance to fight for a place in the Champions League.

Since 2001, the ensemble based in the self-styled ‘Republic of Transnistria’ boasts a hegemonic domain of the Moldovan league, and that is why for two decades he has been fighting year after year for a ticket to the Champions League.

In this 2021 he got it for the first time.

To do it, had to overcome four previous phases: left on the road to Teuta, from Albania; Alashkert, from Albania; Red Star, from Serbia; and Dinamo Zagreb, from Croatia, without losing a single one of the eight games that made up the saga.

The squad of the ‘team without a nation’ has an approximate valuation of 12 million euros, the most modest in the Champions League, and counts in its ranks with a Colombian -forward Frank Castañeda, who is the captain- and a Peruvian -the central defender Gustavo Dulanto-.

Sheriff Stadium was built in 2001 and remodeled in 2011, and has a capacity of 13,500. It is the largest not only in Transnistria, but also in Moldova, and the Moldovan team even played there on several occasions.

The first pages of international football history at club level in both Moldova and Transnistria will be written there this season.

And they will undoubtedly be golden, regardless of the result shown by the scorers at the end of each game.

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