Despite finishing up with a rotten head cold, we have kicked a lot of goals this week. Our Spanish bank cards arrived. We bought a Britta water filter so now we can enjoy water that doesn’t taste like chlorine. Our relationship survived two shopping trips in Barcelona (including one to Ikea) to buy important house stuff like oyster sauce, an orchid, a beautifully ugly lamp and a bazillion candles. And joy of joys, the Internet was installed in the apartment!
On Sunday night we also managed to go to the Barcelona – Athlético Madrid
soccer football match at Camp Nou. Last weekend we bought tickets directly from the stadium, justifying the 73 Euro price tag as a Christmas present. We’ve heard you can pay a lot more for seats, particularly for such an important game! Or match. I think it’s called a match.
After Barcelona v Real Madrid and the Madrid derby, this battle between 2nd and 3rd is the biggest game on the La Liga fixture. Camp Nou (capacity of just under 100,000) was heaving by kick off at 9pm. Our seats were up high behind one of the goals, and it felt more like the Quidditch World Cup than an Australian football match. Almost everyone seemed to be a Barcelona supporter. I’m not convinced that it’s legal to support anyone else here. Barça even has their own TV station!
And why wouldn’t they? Barcelona FC are a team of wizards. Neymar Jnr and Suarez scored two goals in the first half, to much jubilation. A soft penalty delivered a goal to Athlético early in the second half, but this just fired up the crowd and Barça. The unstoppable captain Lionel Messi scored down our end in the 87th minute and the game was won. GOOOOOOLLLLLLLLLLL! Highlights are here.
As someone who likes going to sporting events but only has a relationship-based obligation to watch soccer, it was a real thrill to see such a big game. We heard a lot of English accents and there were a LOT of selfie sticks so it felt a bit touristy. But I also saw plenty of Spanish dads with their young kids looking excited, just like at the MCG.
There were some little differences between watching this game and Collingwood vs Carlton though. There was no replay or close up footage on a big screen, so you really had to watch the live action. There was no booing the opposition: instead, the whole crowd whistled every time Athlético got the ball. I guess it’s more distracting?
When a foul was called against Barça or there was any hint of a Barcelona free kick, the entire crowd cried bloody murder. Lots of people also got out white handkerchiefs and waved them around, apparently in a sign of disapproval. There was plenty of cheering and singing, and the beating of drums. But unlike some football matches, the crowd were very civilised on our trip back to the hostel. Perhaps because it was Sunday night, or because only non-alcoholic beer was served. Either way the gods smiled on us this week, and as a barman told me recently, Messi es dios!