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Monday, December 26, 2005

FC Barcelona and the magic of Estadio Camp Nou

I have been to many famous stadiums round the world, but none come close to the experience of being in the Camp Nou. Last Tuesday, I was fortunate enough to get a pair of tickets to watch Barcelona take on Celta Vigo.

How I got my ticket?

The day before the match, my friend and I went to the Camp Nou to do a museum tour, this is a must for any tourist visiting Barcelona. When we got there, to my amazement the club was selling tickets for the match against Celta, luckily I had my credit card on me and was able to purchase two tickets for a total of 38 Euros. From the moment of purchase I was filled with excitement. As I walked back to the metro station I kept looking back at this magnificent stadium, I could not wait to be back here on match night.

My trip to the stadium on Match night

My hotel was only a short metro ride away from the stadium. I got on the train (L3) at Para-Lel. The train was packed with Barcelona fans, three stops later, we all had to vacate the train. The driver gave no explanation. Some passengers asked him what was going on, he ignored everyone and just concentrated on ensuring that no one remained in the carriages. This was greeted with jeers, but the driver just stormed off.

So we waited, only 15 minutes away from kick off, there was anxious look among the passengers, but soon afterwards another train arrived. We all squeezed on, the train was now beyond its capacity, but no one cared, everyone was just determined to get to the match. Five minutes later, we arrived at our stop, Les Corts, everyone rushed off the train and walked towards the stadium (about a two minute walk). With Kick off approaching, by the time I got to my seat in the top tear of Camp Nou, the stadium was packed with all the supporters.

Awe struck

As I took my seat in the upper tier, having climbed up millions of stairs I was awe struck. The stadium was lit up beneath a star lit sky. I was so high up , but yet felt so close to the surface. There was something magical about being in the Camp Nou, ever since that night I have been searching for the reasons for its magic. What makes the stadium unique? Why was I awe struck? I simply don’t know, this is just a feeling that one can get from being in the stadium on a match night.

The Camp Nou does not have a roof, except for a small section of the stadium, and even then the roof is barely noticeable, such is its size. That in itself makes the stadium stand out, it is almost as though the heaven is overlooking the stadium.

The match itself

Samuel Eto'o continued his remarkable goal-scoring form this season as Barcelona extended their winning streak to 13 matches with a 2-0 victory over Celta Vigo.

Ronaldinho paraded his Fifa Player of the Year Award, Samuel Eto'o his third place trophy and Lionel Messi his Tuttosport Young Player of the Year Award.

But in a lively start Celta Vigo showed they would not be overawed by the home side and their 12 match winning run as they tried to push forward.

Fernando Baiano - who has been a key man in attack for Celta this season with his pace, strength, and deft touch - set up the first chance. Played in by Silva, he fired a dangerous ball across the face of goal but Antonio Nunez was unable to stretch far enough at the far post.

Baiano was ruing his misfortune after 33 minutes when he thundered a shot against the crossbar from the right-side of the area with the keeper well beaten.

Barca were limited to a number of half-chances but showed their potency with a goal out of the blue in the 38th minute. Ronaldinho quickly took a free-kick and with the Celta defence napping, Eto'o slipped the ball past the keeper.

In the second half, Barca waited for the opening to extend their lead and it came after 56 minutes. Andres Iniesta twisted and turned on the edge of the area before slipping the ball through to Eto'o who made no mistake from 15 yards.

The three up front

Barca were not at their vintage best, but you had to be in the stadium to appreciate the movement of the front three. Barca played with one up at the top with one player on either side. The positional strategy remained the same throughout the match with the personnel changing positions all the time.

At the start it Was Eto in the middle, with Ronaldhino on the left and Deco on the right, then it was Ronaldhino in the middle with Eto on the left, then it was Deco’s turn in the middle and this patter of constant changing was evident throughout the match. In glimpses, the world footballer of the year showed why he is the world’s best player. He was involved in both of the goals, and was at his best when hugging the left touch line. He and Deco have sublime ball control, Eto lacks in that department but makes up for it with his killer instinct in front of goal.


Blogger RedsMan said...

I can relate to the experience of the match, I watched it on SKy Sports, but that of the Nou Camp is something else. Thabnsk for your account visiting there, Skippy.

My parents were in Spain some time back and one of their stops on a tour was the Nou Camp, which my father mostly enjoyed. Given what it stands for, both previously and now, it's a must for anyone visiting North-East Spain.


12/26/2005 10:07 pm

Blogger T said...

Fantastic account Skipper... it sounds like you had a magical time!

From a football point of view I really like your description of the positioning of the front three. Huge credit must be given to Rijkaard for finding a perfect formation for his phalanx of excellent attacking players.

Next time Skipper, I hope its the whole EFT team than enjoy the Camp Nou experience!

12/27/2005 10:51 am

Anonymous Nturtle said...

Wow! Thanks for that Skippy! I hope I get a chance to do that one day! What a "bargain" relative to the 40 pounds + + of some premiership games!

And yes...interesting stuff that 3 up front thing! A little bit like Arsene's 4-"5"-1 system! HA!

12/27/2005 11:51 am

Blogger Skippy said...

I think Chelsea will find it hard to contain the front three of Barca in Camp Nou.

Their movement off the ball was a joy to watch.

12/27/2005 6:23 pm

Blogger T said...

Yep Nturtle, the 4-5-1 I talked about last week with Gilberto sitting behind Hleb and Fabregas got its first win yesterday! I like its potential- but only as a Plan B!!

Skipper, I agree that Barca are a joy to watch. To play consistent winning football in great style is the pinnacle!

I do edge Barca over Chelsea- but only just.... the decisive factors for me being the absence of Essien for both legs and the second leg being in the Camp Nou... just as the absence of Marquez for both legs and the second leg being at Stamford Bridge were decisive factors for a Chelsea victory last season.

12/27/2005 9:18 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

It was quoted on the BBC site by an assumed fan that Essien was sorely missed yesterday, why Chelsea just edged Fulham, so I wonder if his omission will have any bearing on the European matches. I sense that Barca will seek to play a very energetic game at the Nou Camp return, and that may depend on their league performances between now and then.


12/27/2005 11:44 pm

Blogger SKG said...

I think Chelsea are in for a rude awakening when they meet Barca.

12/28/2005 9:17 am


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