Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Mes-si, Mes-si, Me-si!

Last week we had the chance to go to a game at Camp Nou, the famous home of FC Barcelona, arguably the best soccer team in the world today. In 2009, FC Barca became the first club in Spain to win all six major football competitions, including La Liga, Copa del Ray, Champions League, Spanish Super Cup, UEFA Super Cup, and FIFA Club World Cup. Their players also featured prominently on Spain's national team that brought home the FIFA World Cup from South Africa in 2010!

The 100,000-seat Camp Nou make it the largest stadium Europe. Games are regularly sold out, but was only about half-full last Wednesday at 10PM start time. Barca was playing a match in the Spanish Copa del Rey against AD Ceuta, one of the weaker teams in the league. (For you geography buffs, Ceuta is an autonomous Spanish city located on the northern tip of Africa on the Straight of Gibraltar.) But, the fairly low attendance meant we were able to score some great seats without breaking the bank!

Barcelona was the heavy favorite, so the first half featured players from their second team squad. They did not disappoint and put up 2 quick goals within the first 10 minutes of the game. It was amazing how hard they played and you could really tell they were gunning for a spot on the first team!

At half-time, our guys were up 2-1. Barca was dominating, but they had yet to score the decisive third goal to put Ceuta away.

About 15 minutes into the second half, an audible murmur spread through crowd. Was it true? YES! Messi was warming up! Lionel Messi is Barcelona's star striker, who has already scored over 50 goals in the 2010 season. As he emerged onto the field, the entire stadium went bananas,
chanting "Mes-si, Mes-si, Mes-si!"

Stepping onto the pitch, he was so non-nonchalant, like he was out for an evening stroll.  He seemed completely unaware that he had captured the attention of every fan in the stadium.
The crowd unanimously "aahed" or "oohed" when ever he touched the ball,
as if he were the only person on the field. 

Finally, he was positioned perfectly in front of the goal when he received the ball. Time slowed as he gracefully weaved in and out of opponents before gently tapping the ball towards the left pocket.
There was no doubt in anyone's mind of the impending goal.  

Again, the fans went mad: "Mes-si, Mes-si, Mes-si!"

It was just amazing how his presence changed the game, opening up opportunities for other players. With another quick goal assist from Messi, Barcelona went on to blow out AD Ceuta 5-1.

It's hard not to become a FC Barca fan living here and we're already gearing up for the biggest game of the season against Real Madrid on November 29. Real Madrid is easy club hate, and like the LA Lakers, they're rich, cocky, and filled with great talent. But the rivalry goes much beyond that and touches on deep political rifts in the county.

Barcelona fans truly consider games against Real Madrid as representative of their larger struggle for Catalan independence from Spain, and a victory against Madrid is a valued opportunity to express their unwillingness to relent to the capital city!

We'll be finding a spot in a packed bar on Nov 29 (as we couldn't afford the 600 Euro, or $1000, minimum ticket price) and will let you know how it goes! 


  1. There is a little plastic figurine of Messi that the guys at work taped to the radio. He stands watch over the kitchen as our little mascot.

    Didn't know his significance until now, but now I can brag that my sis saw him in person!

  2. a tidbit from my Iggles

    Michael Vick broke an all time football record against the Redskins when he scored 6 touchdowns and set running records in one game.

    the Philly fans have forgotten that he is a dog killer.

    Most people in the US never heard of Messi - have the Europeans heard of Michael Vick and my Iggles?


  3. Sorry, Jim, I'm pretty sure no one heard about the Eagles big win over the Redskins last weekend. Though they probably have heard of Vick's dog fighting ring. It seems only the worst of America tends to make it over the pond (yours truly and beautiful daughter excepted, of course).