FOOTBALL PILGRIMAGE Part 7: Nou Camp new experience 

I completed first leg of my pilgrimage, with the El Clasico live, a major tick off my bucket list and now will proceed to watch some top class European Champions League quarterfinal games live. My last blog focused on the pre-Clasico buzz all over Barcelona, this one captures the night beyond the onfield 90 mins.

The overall result

While Barcelona’s loss and end of their 39 match unbeaten streak may seem like a disappointing day for me but it wasn’t. Infact I was happy. The match got its deserving winners and this loss result will remain etched in memory longer. Often Barcelona games, on tv, turn into a bore fest after the first half of any game, by which time they take 2-0 leads and keep two thirds possession.  

Many expected this game to be a mauling too. I could hear lot of locals abusing towards the last third of the game, possibly frustrated with losing betted money. I don’t mind the loss as it hardly affects title race and having experienced the ecstasy of going ahead (1-0), got experience of the loss and how the environment becomes. Very memorable. The video above are the massive Pique Pique chants I was doing with the crowd when Barca took the lead.

Entering the temple

There was tremendous buzz around the Nou camp, the largest stadium in Europe, as 99000+ people made their way in. There were stalls outside selling club merchandise, bugals, horns, banners and massive expectations of win.  

Johiero tribute

 Amongst the big match occasion the club left no stone unturned in pouring never ending tributes to Johan Cryuff. There was 14 page newspaper featuring anything and everything about Cryuff handed out free to all coming in, a tribute video and a minute silence before the game, and fourteen minutes into both halves people stood up to acknowledge the great man’s jersey number.    

The glitter and the magic

I entered the stadium around daylight and after last rays of the sun the brilliant lights off the world’s second largest football stadium gave an exhilarating memorable experience. Many a times I wasn’t looking at the game but just dialing in the atmosphere, the people, the colours, the noises, the catalan slogans … And trying to join them where all I could. Here’s some pictures linked to the sounds I heard.

Meaaasi Meaaasi was heard during this free kick by the great man, which went wide. Largely he was Boss-imero that night!

There was anger at Luiz Suarez red card (on 27th min), more as Ramos should have been sent off by then (24th min) or even later (on 47th min)..
 
Claudio Bravo was braver than Neuer most times, exercising around half way mark during first 60 mins off the game when Barca bossed over Madrid.
  
Gareth Bale deserved a goal for his outstanding performance and scored a legitimate one too which was wrongly disallowed
  
Ramos had long walk back and the loudest jeers. His ten responsible mates ensured the last laugh though.
 

Tens of thousands of supporters make the long dissappointed walk home in the 10 degree chill.
 
Thanks for reading this. Look out for Part 8 of my football pilgrimage where I expect Barcelona to beat Atletico Madrid in a feisty encounter. The Catalans looked tired tonight as the international break effected their players lot more than Madrid. Hope Tuesday all such lethargy is shrug off and successive season treble attempt stays on track.
(This article was first published on Sportskeeda then reproduced here)

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