Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Clasico, Part I

In March of last year, after the birth of our son, Leo, we were visited by my wife's cousin, Mar. When Mar arrived, we asked her if it would be alright if we came to visit in November. Absolutely, she said. Good, seeing as we had already bought tickets :)

Months went by. We watched gleefully as Spain (playing a Barca system with mostly Barca players) won the World Cup in fabulous style. And then we waited. Actually, I guess, I hear the fixture list for the 2010-2011 season. I was going to see Barca play, regardless of whom they played or even where they played. Secretly I harbored desperate hope that we would meet Madrid during our visit, and that I would get to go.

On July 20, 2010, the fixture list was posted on the La Liga website. I did a double take. I did a triple take. I could not believe it, but there it was: week 13: FC Barcelona vs. Real Madrid CF. I did not hesitate -- I wrote to tio Jordi that moment via three different email addresses. Can you help me get to this game, please?

Fast forward to our visit -- incredible -- not the subject of this blog, but I must mention that it was wonderful to have the family in Spain meet Leo. Leo loved them and they loved him right back.

On our last full day in Barcelona, I watched the hours slowly roll by until about 7pm. Out the door, get me to the game. Monique and I took the bus to the Camp Nou, which crawled through the streets of Barca at an agonizing pace, especially when we got near the stadium. There was one other couple on the bus when we boarded that was obviously heading to the game. The rest looked like they were just off from work. The closer we got, the more nervous I got. Not about getting in. I knew we were getting in - tio Jordi had borrowed someone's season tickets and someone's ID cards for us. I was nervous about the result.

Madrid had a one point advantage over Barca and were looking stronger than they had looked in more than two years, with a new manager Jose Mourinho instilling much confidence in the team. Madrid had done better in the games preceding the Clasico. The stage was set for a big game.

Barca: A People's Passion by Jimmy Burns

Book Review

Horribly written, but interesting enough for a Barca fan. I read the version that came out in 1998. I believe it was updated recently.

Interviews with legends of the game were informative, as were stories of the founding of the club by Swiss and English ex-pats in Catalunya at the turn of the century. The author does a decent job of portraying the importance of the club for Catalans, but this reviewer felt he could have been more descriptive of the role of the club for Catalans during Franco's dictatorship. In all, not a great read, but if you are a Barca fan you might find parts interesting. There must be better books out there on the club, however. I'll keep looking.