A Night at Camp Nou

Back in November was fortunate to spend the weekend in Barcelona and managed to make a visit to the famed Camp Nou stadium to see Barcelona v Zaragoza.  At the time Barcelona was in 2nd place in the Primera Division and Zaragoza was in 3rd.  (Currently Barca is in 1st place while Zaragoza resides in 5th). 

Tickets are not to difficult to obtain for most Barcelona games as Camp Nou is the biggest stadium in Europe with a capacity of over 98,000.  Considering that most European football grounds seat under 40,000 makes it all the more impressive. 

The pre-match atmosphere was convivial.  Many of the people on the metro were “tourist” fans from other countries (like TTL) and even saw two ladies from the USA wearing their Barca scarves.  Around the stadium, the bars were packed with people drinking and eating tapas, but there was no real urgency about the fans.  No singing or chanting, just people relaxing and having a good time.      

Camp Nou is a good stadium for fans.  The sight lines are good, easy to get around in, spacious concourses and decent food.  Had seats in 3rd level behind a goal (get what you pay for) but ended up being fine.   Sat with some genuine old-time Barca fans.  Couple next to us brought their seat cushions, peanuts and experience of watching a combined 5,000 live games.

Spaniards are football fanatics and enjoy attacking, technical football.  Not lots of singing or banner waving in the crowd, just ripples of applause for smart passes, good runs off the ball and in appreciation of individual skills.  They do enjoy whistling (booing) the referee and linesman though. 

Zaragoza took a 1-0 lead and then things got really bad for Barca as Argentian whiz kid Messi limped off (broken toe but playing again).  The supporters were getting restless until Ronaldinho headed an equalizer from a corner to even it up. 

2nd half was tense.  Barca had a ton of possession but no real chances.  Then there was a good dust-up along the sidelines with 1 Zaragoza player getting ejected for his 2nd yellow.  Benches cleared out to the touchline and there was lots of jostling between players and coaches.  Passions aflame and Camp Nou was rocking.  Literal cauldron of noise as the supporters sensed victory and urged Barca forward.  Zaragoza defended bravely but had no defense for this touch of class from Ronaldinho.   

That goal came in the 85th minute and pretty much everyone was on their feet the rest of the game.  The place exploded again in injury time when Saviola tapped in a Ronaldinho free kick that hit the crossbar to give Barca the 3-1 win.  What a game!

If you ever get a chance to attend any European football games do it.  Even if the game itself isn’t great, the atmosphere surrounding the game is definetely worth experiencing.  

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