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.