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Camp Nou: Where Madrid is a lonely word

sports Updated: May 04, 2011 23:57 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
Dhiman Sarkar
Hindustan Times
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It took three flights to put my somewhat staid life on hold and sit between ex-Barcelona and Romania legends Gheorghe Hagi and Gheorghe Popescu and a little Dutch boy being initiated into the Barca experience by his father.

Important in that initiation was to boo and jeer anything and everything that began with M and wasn't Messi. From the time Real bused into the elliptical and enormous Camp Nou to when their technical staff left close to midnight, they were up close and personal with hatred.

Everytime Real had the ball, everyone, from the upper tiers high up in the night sky to those in the red seats near us and near the touchline, either booed or whistled. There was appreciation for Dani Alves when he softened up Cristiano Ronaldo and the pre-match announcement of the Real Madrid team list was drowned in jeers just as that of Barcelona was cheered like they had come to save the world.

So what if there was some serious talent on view in the team everyone loves to hate here. Angel di Maria, Gonzalo Higuain, Kaka, his replacement Mesut Ozil, Ricardo Carvalho - his night though could have been spoilt by a Lionel Messi nutmeg - World Cup winners Iker Casillas and Xavi Alonso and, of course, Ronaldo.

There was more cheer for the pitch invader than when Real moved forward. As Marcelo equalised, you could hear the sound of silence. Minutes earlier, when Pedro put Barcelona ahead, the scoreboard screamed 'GOOOOL DE PEDRO', the crowd chanted the little one's name for nearly three minutes and it seemed whole of Catalonia was embraced in a hug.

After again showing why he is called St Iker in some parts of Spain, Casillas exhorted his mates to go near the stand where the away fans sat. The Real players did their captain's bidding but finding an enthusiastic Marxist in West Bengal would perhaps have been easier than seeking out a Madrid shirt here on Tuesday night.

Once Pep Guardiola, prowling on the touchline, urged Camp Nou to lend its voice to his men and to the last man and woman they obliged. The songs were different, the chants different but they all climaxed with a roar of 'Barca, Barcaaaa'.

Madrid seemed like a city and a club that was history. They are that in the context of this season's Champions League, the philosophies of the teams encapsulated in 31 % possession for Real and their respective No. 10s: Barcelona's wore red shoes and was twinkle-toed while the one for Madrid was a destructive midfielder.

Barcelona jumped, sang, danced and drank (not in that order though) first at their stadium and then at Las Ramblas, the city's most famous tourist attraction, into the wee hours their passage to Wembley made special because they had sent Madrid home.

The trip was sponsored by ten action+