FOOTBALL PILGRIMAGE: Part 5, The Final Itinerary

Am all set to embark on a football pilgrimage, a major tick off my bucket list, to watch my favourite football club (FC Barcelona), the biggest club football game on earth (El Clasico) and some top class European Champions League Quarter Final games live. My last blog focused on the awkwardness of watching football from enemy camp, this blog lists my final pilgrimage itinerary and chance to watch live 40 of the world’s top 90 football players!

mont family
Barcelona, here we come again. This pic clicked 2013
My final match itinerary

After much deliberations, specially as would be moving around with family, including two kids, these are the matches i have finalized to watch.

  1. Barcelona vs Real Madrid (La Liga, Nou Camp, Barcelona, April 2, Saturday)

The El Clasico is the biggest encounter in club football. My entire trip itinerary was built around this date! FC Barcelona will go into this game ten points ahead of Real Madrid and nine points ahead of second placed Atletico Madrid in La Liga title race. Both El Clasico rivals will have Champions league Quarter finals games later that week, so a lot will be at stake. Especially after all the players return from international break – which brings own set of challenges like injuries, tiredness etc.

  1. Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid (CL QF L1, Nou Camp, Barcelona,  April 5, Tuesday)

After the El Clasico, i stay put at Barcelona and watch this intriguing Quarterfinal Champions League Leg 1 encounter.  I used to admire Diego Simeone as an Argentine player but not really a fan of his hard on the knuckles defensive team management strategy. Nevertheless he is growing to be one of the finest coaches and i look forward to seeing how much damage they can inflict on my club. This game will ensure my second Barcelona game in four days and hopefully, by then, my dreams of supporting the best footballing club team ever would have got satiated, enough.

  1. Paris St, Germain vs Manchester City (CL QF L1, Parc de Princess, Paris, April 6, Wednesday)

Wednesday morning i reach Paris and will watch the most exciting of the Quarter Finals Leg 1 encounters. Manchester City are my favourite EPL team and ever improving Paris St Germain, i admire a lot. This encounter gives my trip a bigger than dream shape. After this game, my only regret may remain not watching Bayern Munich live. Plus this game also gives me and my family our first visit to Paris.

Jpn Bra.jpg
Nothing beats watching football live in Europe. Pic clicked by me of Japan and Brazil teams warming up in Singapore National Stadium in Oct 2014
Watching live: 40 of world’s best 90 players

Once the flight, hotel, ticket and transport bookings were done, out of excitement, i wanted to see how many of the best players of the world would i be seeing live. After much research i picked up FourFourTwo’s Best 100 Football Players in the World 2015. This site was latest and fairest amongst all latest rankings one can get now.

From the top 100 list, i list below the players am expected to watch live during my football pilgrimage.

Rank 89: Javier Pastore (PSG)

Rank 87: Marco Verratti (PSG)

Rank 83: Blaise Matuidi (PSG)

Rank 77: Danilo (RMA)

Rank 75: Joe Hart (MCY)

Rank 71: Marcelo (RMA)

Rank 70: Keylor Navas (RMA)

Rank 65: Isco (RMA)

Rank 62: Arda Turan (FCB)

Rank 57: Jordi Alba (FCB)

Rank 56: Vincent Kompany (MCY)

Rank 55: Edinson Cavani (PSG)

Rank 52: Koke (ATM)

Rank 51: Nicolas Otamendi (MCY)

Rank 49: Raheem Sterling (MCY)

Rank 45: Thiago Silva (PSG)

Rank 43: Angel Di Maria (PSG)

Rank 39: Yaya Toure (MCY)

Rank 37: Javier Mascherano (FCB)

Rank 36: Karim Benzema (RMA)

Rank 35: Gerard Pique (FCB)

Rank 33: Sergio Ramos (RMA)

Rank 31: Antoine Griezmann (ATM)

Rank 30: Raphael Varane (RMA)

Rank 28: Toni Kroos (RMA)

Rank 27: James Rodriguez (RMA)

Rank 25: David Silva (MCY)

Rank 23: Luka Modric (RMA)

Rank 21: Sergio Busquets (FCB)

Rank 18: Diego Godin (ATM)

Rank 17: Kevin De Bruyne (MCY)

Rank 16: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (PSG)

Rank 15: Andres Iniesta (FCB)

Rank 12: Ivan Rakitic (FCB)

Rank 9: Sergio Aguero (MCY)

Rank 8: Gareth Bale (RMA)

Rank 5: Luis Suarez (FCB)

Rank 3: Neymar (FCB)

Rank 2: Cristiano Ronaldo (RMA)

Rank 1: Lionel Messi (FCB)

The last time i saw some of the world’s best footballers live was on October 2014 when Brazil thrashed Japan 4-0 in an International friendly at Singapore National Stadium. That night Neymar scored four fantastic goals. I expect my stadium presence during my pilgrimage charge all the top players similarly!!!!!! Ha Ha.

nayemar scores.jpg
Neymar heads home vs Japan. Clicked by me in Oct 2014
Excited. Thrilled. Dreamy. Unbelievable. Cautious…sea of emotions running past my mind.. Can’t wait to sit on that flight.

(Coming up Part 6: The Eagle has landed)

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