I was so excited my luck was in when I checked the fixtures and Barca were at home against Real Valladolid on the weekend I was in town visiting my friend Pauli, who was over from the States. (Even more so given that after the weekend, there was a two week break for world cup qualifiers).
Camp Nou is one of the most iconic stadiums in football. Home to FC Barcelona since 1957 and holding just under 100,000, it is the largest football stadium in Europe and one of the largest in the world. Given that it wasn’t a huge game, it was easy to get tickets on Barca’s website (http://www.fcbarcelona.com/). I did check other ticketing sites and they were a lot more expensive, which came as no surprise.
The cheapest tickets were in the top stand behind the goals and these cost €47, by no means cheap for a ‘regular’ fixture. The tickets I bought put us in the top stand but just off the halfway line and these cost €57.
Transport from the city centre to the stadium is easy; hop on the metro line three in the direction of Zona Universitaria and get off at either Maria Chritina and Palua Reial. This takes about 25 minutes and from the station it’s a 10 minute walk to the stadium.
As we excited the metro and the absolutely huge stadium first came into sight, I was hit by such a wave of excitement – here I was in Barcelona headed to Camp Nou! It’s hard to explain the sheer size of the stadium or the sweeping view once you exit the ninth stairwell but it felt very special to be there.
Barcelona were looking to extend their perfect start to the season, and make it eight wins from eight, and with Busquets and Iniesta rested and Messi injured, Neymar took on the role of play maker.
Valladolid soaked up the early pressure before taking a shock lead in the 10th minute. As a neutral, this is exactly what you want as it forces the home side onto the front foot.
Barcelona hit back very quickly though, equalising less than five minutes later with Alexis scoring from outside the box. Although they created plenty of chances, they were unable to add to the scoreboard and the sides went in 1-1 at half time.
Camp Nou is definitely one of the quieter grounds I’ve been to. There are no replays, no loud speaker announcements and only a tiny section of fans behind the poles are constantly making noise. Here it seems the people come simply to watch the football with none of that “extra stuff” necessary. Make no mistake, though, the lack of noise by no means takes away from the thrill of watching football at this great stadium.
When the crowd disagrees with a decision, however, such as when the referee turned down a seemingly obvious penalty after 30 minutes, the place erupts: jeers, boos and whistling ring out across the stadium and fans immediately start waving whatever they can get their hands on.
After the break it was all Barcelona as they started to impose themselves on the game with Neymar in fine form. Xavi would put them in the lead just six minutes after the break and from that point on, ‘normality’ was restored and there was only one winner. Barca would eventually score twice more (Alexis grabbing his second and Neymar his first) to record a 4-1 victory and keep their perfect season in tact as La Liga went into recess for two weeks.
It had been a memorable evening watching football at a wonderful stadium and I look forward to heading back to Spain at some point to watch more games – next up … the Bernabeu in Madrid!
PS – In case you’re wondering about picking up tickets at the ground … I wasn’t keen to print my tickets online as I wanted to have a “proper” ticket as a souvenir and it was very easy and quick to pick up our tickets at the ground.