During my recent visit to Barcelona, I got an opportunity to watch Spanish League match between FC Barcelona and Sporting club in the stadium. Though I am not a big football fan, I do watch world cup matches with great interest and passion. But I have never followed European league matches. Initially I was bit hesitant to go to the stadium due to the hooliganism that is prevalent in European club matches. But FC Barcelona being one of the top football clubs in the world with great players like Messi, I felt that was an opportunity not to miss. My colleague Ajay also joined me.
|Barcelona stadium at sunset time|
Booking was done in a jiffy. I went to FCB’s website on the previous day and booked it online. The prices were based on the location in the stadium which ranged from 59 to 650 Euros!! Striking a balance between the price and good seating position, I chose “Lateral 3 Superior” seat. And within few seconds, the tickets were in my mobile wallet. Not sure how the ticket availability will be for high profile matches against clubs like Real Madrid.
|Photo sessions at Barcelona stadium|
The match was starting at 7:30 in the evening but we decided to reach stadium 1.5 hours early as I expected long queues. With capacity of 99,354 seats camp Nau is the largest football stadium in Europe and third largest in the world. But with 21 access gates and several entries into the stadium, the entry was very smooth. Our bags were checked, water bottles were not allowed but camera was ok. The first expression after entering the stadium was “wow!!”. It was amazing and was really huge!! The crowd was still settling in and we enjoyed the pre match experience.
|Entering the stadium|
In the meantime, I went to get the water bottle. The bottle was provided with cap removed. When questioned, I was told that it was to avoid people throwing water bottles!! Interesting!!
The match started exactly on time. Greatest response from the crowd came when Messi’s name was announced. It looked like one part of the stadium was reserved for hardcore fans as they were continuously beating the drums and singing songs. A great energy in the stadium. I could imagine how the scene would be for high profile matches!!
|"Messi" being announced|
The match itself was interesting with Barcelona winning 6 - 1 which was expected. It was fun to see so many goals and Barcelona attacked continuously. I managed to take a video of one of the goals. Since it was a direct free kick, I could shoot the video of that goal. Neymar directly hitting the ball to the net.
Contrary to my understanding, the crowd behavior was very good. Considering the presence of kids and ladies in the crowd, I believe hooliganism must be isolated incidents in the games. Well, things might have been different if Barcelona had lost the match!!
|FC Barcelona fans|
It was a great experience altogether. An evening well spent. It just took us about 5 mins to get out of the stadium and the entire process was smooth. Roads were completely filled with people but we did not find any difficulty in catching the train and reaching our hotel!!