Sunday, 26 August 2012

You can't get a ticket for the Clásico

Well, so I've been told many times during my six years here. And so I've repeated to anyone who's asked. But, I've recently discovered, there are Clásicos and there are Clásicos.

A Champions League encounter? Best to forget it. Unless you know someone. Really know them.
La Liga? Just as unlikely. Even if it's the first of the season and the awarding of titles and medals is a long season away.
Copa del Rey? Again, even a meeting in an 'earlier' round will undoubtedly be well and truly sold out.
Supercopa? What-a-copa?

The Supercopa de Eapaña de fútbol is the equivalent of the English 'Community Shield'. Winners of the cup (Copa del Rey) against the winners of the league (la Liga). So that will be Barcelona against Real Madrid, over two legs, at the fag-end of August just as the season is kicking off and just as many Spaniards are still on their holidays...

I trawl the FC Barcelona website and find that tickets are on sale! To members. My less-than-perfect Spanish is put to the extreme test and I discover that after a certain time, unsold tickets will be available to the great unwashed, the non-member, general public. That will be me. 

So, on the due date, I cross my fingers and toes and make sure my credit card is alive and kicking. There are hundreds of tickets available. Thousands. Tens of thousands. Barcelona offers its members the opportunity to return their season tickets for resale, if they cannot make any particular game. It seems that my hunch about a What-a-copa clásico at the tail-end of August is correct. I grab a couple of seats @ 65 euros apiece, near the corner flag at the front of the middle tier (there are three) and have trouble believing they will be kosher as they chug out of the printer in the back bedroom.

Camp Nou, Barcelona, without doubt one of the best club grounds in the world.
But my doubts are groundless. There is a huge crowd outside Camp Nou more than an hour before the 22.30 kick-off time. (Official attendance was nearly 92,000, capacity 98,000.) But although it is noisy and boisterous and there are a smattering of white shirts amongst a sea of scarlet and blue, it is peaceful and good natured. Nearly everyone seems to have a vuvuzela. (Did I mention it was noisy?)

The first half is cagey, although Barca dominate possession. The second half explodes. Ronaldo scores with a header from a corner. Pedro equalises within a minute. Messi puts Barca ahead from the penalty spot before Xavi scores a third after sublime work from Iniesta. Then Messi has an opportunity to bury the second leg by making it 4-1 but Casillas foils him brilliantly. At the other end, the Barca portero, Valdes, makes a pig's ear out of a simple clearance and Di María puts the second leg on a knife-edge, hauling Mardrid back to 3-2.

Final score, now for the second leg. But on the telly.

Game on for the second leg at the Bernabeu next Wednesday 29th August. I zip along to the Real Madrid website. Just to see... But that late Di María strike seems to have made the second leg a 'must-see'. While there are still about 50 seats available, most of them are VIP and the cheapest is 275 euros. 

Think I'll watch this Clásico on the telly.

My tips for this season? Barca for La Liga. (And Madrid for la Copa del Rey!)

A P.S. Real won the second leg 2-1, making the final score 4-4 and giving the cup to them on away goals, 6-5.

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