Oh yeah, we're getting continental now. A business trip to Barcelona coincided with a fixture at the Nou Camp, so I took the opportunity to see a game played there. I'd been to the stadium before and had a tour, but it's obviously a different experience watching the Catalans play there.
Tickets via the internet were on sale to the public a month before the game, and I logged on the first day they were available only to find very few seats available. It took an hour to find three tickets next to each other. Oddly, when we got there, there were 30-odd thousand spare tickets. Go figure.
As I went to pick up the tickets at the little ticket windows, we were surrounded by ticket touts looking to pass off tickets for the game. No strange occurrence in the game these days, only these ticket touts were really old. We'd rebuffed one haggard old gent, when another even older bloke tried his luck. Then another even older man. To top it off this 70-year old crone sidled up to us and opened an envelope to show that she had about 30 tickets to sell. It was crazy. I'd forgotten my passport as ID to pick up the tickets, but fortunately the young lad accepted my PADI scuba diving card!
Inside the ground, the beer was zero alcohol and tasted like it. Before the match we had the odd spectacle of singa-longa-Barca, with the big screen showing the words for everyone to follow in traditional pre-match ditty. Unfortunately that tended to be the loudest that the crowd got.
It was eerie at times. Old Trafford can (rightly) get criticised for being quiet, but that's nothing compared to the stillness at times of Camp Nou. A resident bat had no problems getting around, despite its reliance on sonar. When the fans were noisy, it wasn't when Barcelona were good. It was when they felt the referree had cheated them but not giving afree-kcik or booking an opposition player.
On the pitch, Eto-o scored a quick fire double to put the home side firmly in control. His first in particular was impressive as he made himself a tiny bit of room on the edge of the box and blasted it in via the crossbar. It was almost all Barca in the first half, although you could see how poor some of the defensive cover was for the team.
This was highlighted after the break when Betis unexpecedly scored twice to pull level, with two excellent finishes. However Gudjohnsson, a player I always admired in England, managed to clip in the winner - perhaps not intentionally. Some highlights are available here and are worth a watch.