Arriving in Barcelona on Saturday lunchtime, I had just enough time to find my way to the hotel, check-in, dump my bags, have some lunch and jump on the metro to the Nou Camp. I was off to see Barcelona’s La Liga encounter with Real Betis. I love the Spanish metro system – it’s so much cleaner and easier to navigate than the London underground; it’s nowhere near as cramped either, even in peak times and the people seem a lot less intimidating. After getting off at Badal, which ended up being a last minute decision, after seeing a number of fans getting off, it was a five minute walk to the ground.
On arrival, the sheer magnitude of the place was astounding, and while from the outside, it didn’t look the most attractive of structures, once inside I was in awe. Luckily the gate I wanted was at the front of the stadium – I can’t begin to imagine the walk, if you were sitting in the north end. Sitting in ‘Gol Sud’ (the south end behind the goal – and the end with the Nike swoosh in the seats) and on the second tier, the view was incredible. Although I was miles away from the pitch, it didn’t feel as far away and the panoramas were great. On reflection, I had a good seat and would have rather sat behind the goal, than round the sides.
I loved how the away fans weren’t segregated and despite this, there was no trouble at all – although there were a group of 30 or so ‘die hards’ who were positioned in the top tier, sectioned off by mesh. They weren’t doing any harm though, just jumping around for 90 minutes and waving flags erratically.
On the whole, I wasn’t that impressed with Barcelona and it’s clear the team are a shadow of their former selves. While they dominated possession, playing their typical passing game, so many of the passes were misplaced or mistimed, while they insisted on trying to walk it into the net – had more shots gone in from distance, I’m sure the margin of victory would have been greater. Busquets was the stand-out player for me, while Neymar who in my opinion is overrated, also played well. Most of all I was just pleased to see Messi live and he didn’t disappoint – even if his penalty miss wasn’t great,
I’m not sure what I was expecting atmosphere-wise, but from where I was sitting, it wasn’t that great. With over 80,000 in the stadium, there was a lot of impatience and it was fairly quiet with all the noise coming from the opposite end. At the point where it was 1-0, a number of Mexican waves took place to my right – summing up how dull the game was.
When you’re used to paying £20 for a ticket, close to £70 is very steep but I had a good evening and it was amazing to see world-class players in action.Saturday 5th April 2014
Barcelona 3 – 1 Real Betis
Figueras (og) ’67