I have landed at Barcelona to kick off my 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 quarterfinal games live. My last blog finalized my pilgrimage itinerary and list of 40 of the world’s top 90 football players I would be watching live!
The eagle has landed
I landed at Barcelona today after an enchanting relaxed week at Costa Del Sol area where I felt proud at being treated as an ‘Indien, no problem country’. Barcelona airport was chilly, windy and had light drizzle. Although weather for El Classico doesn’t predict rain, however rains in this part of the world come with little warning and since the stand (am sitting) would be in the open (most of Nou Camp is open), I anticipate myself carrying a disposable rain coat to the stadium. The combination of this late winter chill and rain would be an extremely uncomfortable proposition during actual match time, 8:30pm to 10:10pm. However, aside the 4pm drizzle today, rest of the evening remained clear sky. It’s important that the game tomorrow doesn’t get rain or wet outfield to ensure free flow attacking football from both teams.
An expensive dream
Thankfully my apartment at Barcelona is next to Nou Camp, arranged by my dear friend Nestor Centelles Duran – a private tour guide by profession. He helped get me both the Barcelona match tickets at 50% less price than what’s sold on Internet. As I write El Clasico tickets today are going at around 550€ = 620$ US = INR 45000!! But dream is a dream and needs to be achieved! The learning though I got here is that it’s better to buy the tickets after landing if the game isn’t a high profile encounter. Am sure the Barcelona Atletico game ticket I would have got cheaper if I go to stadium today as that encounter may not even have full house.
Importance of this Clasico
All over Barcelona their is buzz related to the game, but without much tension or edginess. A ten point gap in La Liga table between Barcelona and their El Clasico opponents, Real Madrid, means the result of this game won’t have as much numerical bearing as a game of this nature should. But traditional rivalries are built on pride, ego and bragging rights. Beating this Barcelona team will go some way in redeeming Real’s season so far. Further if Barcelona lose and get a key player injured, it will set cat amongst the pigeons at Nou Camp with a quarter final Champions league clash coming up in three days vs another Madrid team – Atletico. That aside a La Liga title win for Barcelona will remain incomplete, if they can’t beat the Galacticos at home. A big win over Madrid will also put question marks over the ability of Real’s XI to beat Barcelona in future – so a summer overhaul would be due. Everything to expect.
What to expect
There has been >2.5 goals scored by Barcelona in each of their last 14 home games. The home team has scored two or more goals in each of those games, in process staying undefeated over their last 23 games, home and away. The general prediction over different websites range from 2-1 to 3-1 towards a Barcelona win. No one wants to bet against this Barcelona team not winning at home, but in El Clasico form goes outside the window, often. No one expected the Catalans to win 4-0 away at Bernabeau in their first Clasico of the season. So, expect the unexpected tomorrow. I should be in the stands by 745pm.
My football pilgrimage itinerary ends at Paris. On landing Barcelona the first news alert popping up on my mobile was of an explosion in a Paris building which worried my family. Paris has been in news for all the wrong reasons last six months. Thankfully this blast was from a gas leak and not man made. Condolences to families affected. May god make the world a safer place.
Coming up Part 7: The El Clasico madness