I returned back to the UK on Christmas Eve after my holiday in Barcelona. The evening before my return I was very fortunate to see the biggest football match in Spain and perhaps the biggest game in Europe, Barcelona versus Real Madrid.
Packed in to the 90,000 all-seater stadium were more than 90,000. Many people did not have a seat to sit on and therefore were sitting in the stair wells of the stands.
It took me some time to find my seat as there were so many people sitting in the aisles that I could not see the row numbers of the seats. Once I finally found my seat (which someone was sitting in) I settled down to watch the game and soak up the atmosphere. I was amazed at the anger the home fans showed towards the Real Madrid players and supporters. I understood there is strong rivalry, but I hadn’t fully appreciated the intensity of the hatred between them.
The game itself was full of high skill, but ultimately Real Madrid set out to stifle Barca’s beautiful passing game. Indeed Real did stifle Barca and they reduced them to just a few chances. A short while before half time Real broke away and with their first shot, Batista scored a great goal.
Barca failed to recover and never real looked like scoring. I have liked Barca since I was a small child watching Johan Cruyff playing for them in the seventies and it was a little disappointing to see them play and lose to their bitter rivals.
All in all, I am very grateful to have seen 2 great sides play in such an amazing stadium. I am already looking forward to visiting my good friend Rob in Barcelona in 2008.