March 2, 2013 at 2:43 pm
Attending this special game between Barcelona and Real Madrid confirms the size of the two clubs, and everything from the atmosphere outside the stadium to the 98,000 inside the Camp Nou shows how important the football is in these two Spanish cities.
The anticipation around Barcelona on the day of the match was that they would sweep aside a weaker Madrid team, and see them safely through to the Copa Del Rey final. Clearly Jose Mourinho didn’t read the script.
The walk from Maria Cristina Metro station, even at 2pm for a 9pm kick off was full of the red and blue striped shirts, with the stalls of scarfs and merchandise being set up for the big night.
FCBotiga, the chain of club shops dotted around the Nou Camp was again full of excitement, and having that ticket in your hand was worth the queues of hundreds.
As 98,000 people crowded the bars near the stadium, the arrival of the team coaches was as hostile atmosphere as there was all night, with flares and flags being waved within touching distance of the Madrid bus, including their arch enemy who was now scored in the last seven Clasico’s at the Nou Camp, Cristiano Ronaldo.
The coach containing their heroes of Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi was something completely different, with the roars looking like they had won the match before the team had even gone through the gates.
Numerous flights of stairs eventually got us up to block 527, on the top tier of the stadium. The 500 Madrid fans that had made the 300 mile trip to Barcelona were caged in with netting all around them, with their Spanish flags being hung up everywhere possible.
90,000 Barcelona flags were lifted high for the arrival of the teams, which was of course greeted by the club anthem ‘El Cant del Barça’, hoping for their team to improve on the 1-1 scoreline from the first leg at the Bernabeu.
Jose Mourinho’s side had the better of the opening exchanges, with Ronaldo causing havoc for Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol.
Lionel Messi saw two chances go narrowly wide, the first a powerful effort to the bottom corner, as well as a free kick that many in the stadium thought had rippled the net.
On 13 minutes it was Madrid who took the advantage with the opening goal of the night. Pique brought down Ronaldo in the box, and he converted the penalty past Pinto to send the visiting supporters ecstatic.
The approach from Mourinho to have 11 men behind the ball when Barca were attacking made it difficult for the home team to find any space, and put them in control of the game.
Ronaldo made it 2-0 mid way through the second half, a run from Angel Di Maria had his shot saved by Pinto, but the rebound was slotted home by the Portuguese star to give Barcelona a three goal mountain to climb.
It got worse for the hosts as Raphael Varane headed in a corner to make it 3-0 to Madrid, prompting early exits for many home fans, as well as flares being thrown in the away section of the stadium.
Jordi Alba gave Barca some consolation with a well worked goal two minutes from the end, but this night belonged to Mourinho and his players, who now go into the final against Atletico Madrid in May, and head to Saturday’s Clasico with a lot of confidence.
The post match taunting between the fans resulted in many bottles being thrown, but after everyone exited the Nou Camp, the bars were again full, with the special atmosphere of a Clasico heading on into the early hours of Wednesday morning.