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I stared incredulously at the PC and printer. There had to be some catch. I couldn’t possibly have succeeded in getting a ticket to see FC Barcelona for €21.50.
But I did.
An internet search for the FC Barcelona museum opening hours ended up with me visiting Camp Nou for a live game. The match was FC Barcelona’s Copa del Rey second round tie against Cartegena.
As FC Barcelona is one of the most successful football clubs in the world, I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to catch a game while in the Catalan capital.
Such was my excitement and nervousness I arrived approximately two hours before kick-off: Excitement was an obvious emotion but nervous in case my ticket was a fake or that I was making an expensive trip to see the under twelves.
As I made my way from Collblanc metro station crowds had already gathered with home and away supporters mixing without problem. Upon passing through the turnstile a web of horizontal and vertical concrete flood-lit columns lay before me.
I entered this modern coliseum to find a carpet of resplendent grass eleven rows away from my seat. Looking in every direction I took note of as much detail of this scarlet and blue-seated multi-tiered arena.
I mingled with other tourists who, like me, were visiting for the first time. All were in awe of the structure, me slightly less so. Structurally, Croke Park in Dublin is more impressive. Sorry, Barcelona.
The squads were announced over the PA system. Puyol, Mascherano, Fabregas, Adriano, Pedro and Neymar were the international Barca players I was familiar with. Jordi Alba and Iniesta joined as subs in the second half.
By kick-off the stadium was far from full although the carnival atmosphere I was to witness for the next hour and three quarters would suggest otherwise. The singing had already begun and continued right throughout the match, with chants from both sets of supporters.
In the second half, all tiers participated in a Mexican wave which did laps of the stadium. Some Cartegena fans were sprinkled amongst the Barca fans and neutrals in our section but the banter between all seemed good-natured. Then again, I’m not familiar with Catalan or Spanish swear words.
Pedro scored Barcelona’s first goal and an impressive Tello scored the second. The wise guy who fixed kick-off for 10pm never included the metro system in the plans. It meant leaving five minutes before the end to catch the last train and missing Neymar’s goal. But by then, my eyes were sore from keeping up with the fast pace of Fabregas & Company. I saw enough of what I had come to see.
VISITING CAMP NOU: FINAL THOUGHTS
The celebratory atmosphere I experienced was as unforeseen as unforgettable. People without an iota of interest in sport would find this environment infectiously uplifting and I highly recommend visiting Camp Nou for a Barcelona match.
GETTING TO CAMP NOU
Camp Nou stadium is located in the western side of Barcelona approximately 7km from Las Ramblas. The nearest metro stations are Collblanc, Badal, Les Corts, Maria Cristina and Palau Real.
For big matches arrive early and don’t expect to leave in a rush. Camp Nou is the largest stadium in Europe and you could be one of 99,000 people!
For accommodation near Camp Nou, check out booking.com.
Other Iberian destinations can be found on my Spain Travel Tips page.
Author’s Note: This post was originally published in February 2014 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.