Sunday, January 08, 2006

The strangest derby game I've ever seen...

We went to see Barca play local rivals Espanyol last night at the cavernous Olympic stadium. Much hype in the papers, managers talking up the game etc.

Now derby games when I grew up in manchester were big things - huge crowds, great atmosphere, big tension and usually crap games.

last night we turn up to find the beautiful old stadium around half full - 28,000 according to the paper or around 7,000 more than Espanyol's normal meagre attendance. There was no crowd segretaion but a big chunk of vociferous barca fans - 600, or 700 perhaps- packed themselves into one high section behind a goal. People by and large just don't go to away games here, no matter how close

There was a bit of tension from a few boozed up Espanyol fans who can be an earthy blue-collar bunch but even if they wanted to dish out a kicking or two, they would have had a hard job finding anyone.

It got ever more bizarre. The game kicked off at 10pm and after 20 minutes it poured and poured for the rest of the match - real deluge, stair rods, monsoon type of stuff.

it was, understandably, not a great game - scrappy (49 fouls in all - now that is like a manchester derby). Barca won 2-1, their 15th win on the trot. Deco scored first when kameni, espanyol's wonderful goalie, let the wet ball squirm through his hands, and Eto'o the other.

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