Barcelona Spain Soccer
Saturday, April 24th
Today I got to experience my first soccer match in Europe - FC Barcelona vs. Xerez CD. I learned a lot about soccer in the last two days. Generally I understand the game, but how it fits into specifics within European culture - that was really interesting.
The game started at 6pm on Saturday night. Because of my experience in Madrid, I wanted to get there early. Therefore, I decided to sleep in and hang around the hostel area until leaving for the match. I had to pickup my ticket at the stadium, as I purchased it online. My hostel was located 10 minutes walking from the stadium - awesome. I went over about 1pm to see if my ticket was there. I could not get it yet - only after 3pm. The area surrounding the stadium was packed with people. Souvenir stands were already open.
I went back to the hostel after eating some lunch. I had to change rooms from my single room to a six-person dorm. I got setup and in the process met this guy who was also going to the game. This guy was the most educated soccer fan I may ever meet in my entire life. He filled me in on the whole scoop. Basically, FC Barcelona is the best soccer team in the world. (Hey - nice - I heard the best of the best were coming here). They have arguably the best player in the world (Messi). European leagues are the dominant soccer leagues in the world, with Spain, the UK, and Italy being the powerhouses in Europe. Each country has a league of their own. And then the clubs from each country play against each other for the Champions Cup. FC Barcelona won both the Spanish league and the Champions Cup last year.
I found out that there are 20 teams in the Spanish soccer league (the top tier). FC Barcelona is in first place. Xerez CD is in last place. So the match I'm going to see should be a slaughter. I learned why there was so much potential anger for riot in Madrid a few weeks ago. Currently Real Madrid is the 2nd best team in Spain. FC Barcelona and Real Madrid hate each other. I was told by the guy I met (who was from U.S.) that this rivalry is Yankees / Red Sox, Cardinals / Cubs times 50. He said it's the most heated rivalry in soccer. I'm told Barcelona and Madrid really do not like each other as cities. I'm finding the differences interesting about the two - and people from one area clearly have a chip on their shoulder about the other.