Barcelona is known for a lot of things. The city is known for its distinct Catalonian culture and traditions. In addition, Barcelona is also known for its tasty paella and temperate weather.
What many tend to overlook is the world-class soccer that is played in the Camp Nou stadium on a weekly basis. FC Barcelona, one of the two La Liga soccer clubs in Barcelona, maintains worldwide recognition for being one of the most renowned teams in the world, and for El Clásico, the greatest soccer rivalry in the world.
El Clásico is a match that is played twice a year between FC Barcelona, and Real Madrid, one of the best clubs in the world. In recent years, Real Madrid has dominated the international scene, winning 3 straight Champions League titles. For either team, beating the other after ninety minutes of soccer will always be satisfying, but the current political climate in Spain has also added an additional layer of relevance to this spectacle.
In 2017, government officials in the Catalonian Parliament motioned for independence from the rest of Spain. As a result, officials in Madrid imprisoned those who called for independence, elevating tensions between both cities. Now that political tensions appear to be at an all-time high between both factions, winning El Clásico embodies an intensified feeling of regional pride and passion.
This year, the first of two matches between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid was held at the end of October, on a chilly Sunday afternoon in Barcelona. Initially, I made plans to watch the spectacle on TV with some friends at my residence hall.
More time passed, and I began to question my plans. At that moment in time, I considered the possibility of attending the match. For the entirety of my childhood, I always tuned in to El Clásico on TV, but I never gave serious thought to attending the historic matchup.
Additional time passed, and I was left with approximately 50 minutes to decide the outcome of my evening. Earlier that month, I checked various websites, only to find out that ticket prices were through the roof. But, I thought to myself, “Maybe there’s a chance there are still a few tickets left that people are trying to sell last minute.”
With 40 minutes remaining before kickoff, I quickly searched the web and found a cheap ticket. From that moment forward, I knew from within that I had to purchase that ticket. But, “Was there enough time to make it to the Camp Nou before the beginning of the match?”
My dorm is a 30-minute walk away from the Camp Nou, but only 20 minutes remained by the time I purchased my El Clásico ticket. There was only one way that I could make it to the game on time. Run.
Shortly after, I quickly put on my FC Barcelona jersey and made my way toward the stadium. I began running, dodging both pedestrians and cyclists to reach my destination on time. Over time, I began to fatigue. I wanted to arrive on time because seeing the players walk onto the field is one of the most iconic aspects of a European soccer match.
I pushed forward and eventually made it to the game with approximately 5 minutes to go before kickoff. I watched the FC Barcelona and Real Madrid players walk onto the field, and it was everything I could have imagined and more.
I cherished every single minute of the game. Throughout the match, the Camp Nou exploded with many moments of excitement, as FC Barcelona scored five times, defeating Real Madrid 5-1.
At the end of the day, I’m glad I decided to attend El Clásico. Although the process of purchasing a ticket, and running to the Camp Nou at world record speeds was a stressful experience, I can always say that I was part of an iconic moment in Spanish history. I will never forget this day for the rest of my life.
This post was contributed by Mel Stack, a 2018 Global Ambassador. Mel is in the Liberal Arts Honors Program and the McCombs School of Business Foundations Program. He is studying at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain.
Don’t get left behind. Read more about Mel’s experience in Barcelona>>