Sunday, October 20, 2013

Watching a European Cup Match

Guess I'm being nostalgia but I still like to refer Europe's premier club football competition by its old name. I arrived in Madrid after a long haul flight in the morning on match day so it was going to be one long day for me. Late morning all over the historic center, the stark FC Copenhagen visiting fans were already in the mood and up for it. Got my first glimpse of the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu in the afternoon when I went to collect my ticket from the machine. It is one of the biggest (approx. 85,000 capacity) stadiums and home to one the most glamorous and successful clubs in Europe. I returned to the stadium a couple of hours before the game to soak in some pre-match atmosphere. The first thing that I noticed was the huge police presence for the game and they cleared out an entire road where fans were earlier gathering to watch who's who and I supposed the team buses as well driving into the stadium complex. After being chased off, I sat at a small park near the metro station. As more fans arrived in droves, some of the seemingly intoxicated away fans started to use the park as an open air toilet while laughing and shouting away. This did not go on for long before the police reacted and the offenders were subjected to some rough treatment. I heard loud sirens behind me and saw the Real Madrid team bus with police escort passed by. Pity I could not whip out my camera quick enough.

champions league anthem
I got fantastic 1st tier lateral seat almost right in the center for the game albeit at a price. It was nice to enter the stadium early just to watch the superstars of Real warm up. The regular fans seemed to turn up just in time as the stadium really only got filled up close to kickoff. This was my first European game and I got goosebumps when the famous Champions League anthem was played. Without disrespecting FC Copenhagen, I was hoping for tougher opponents like the Italian giant Juventus but I was really happy just to be there. Throughout the match, I thought the home crowd was rather subdue and even the ultras chanted and sang only in short bursts. By contrast, the small contingent of traveling ultras managed to outdo the nearly 80,000 home supporters for long periods and I thought that was simply amazing. On the pitch however, the home team won comfortably as expected with Ronaldo and Di Maria bagging two a piece in a lively and entertaining match. I managed to capture the second goal by Ronaldo on camera so check them out. This season (actually they have been trying for the past ten seasons), Real Madrid will be gunning for 'La Decima'  - a record tenth European Cup title. Buena Suerte. I hope that someday in the near future, I would be writing a post titled 'Watching a European Cup Final'.

estadio santiago bernabéu
stadium restaurant and vip area

real faithfuls
inside the official shop
big police presence
police clearing off the street

a visiting fan
empty seats an hour before the match
fc copenhagen players warming up
superstars of real out for warm ups

going through their paces

teams out for the champions league anthem
here we go

half time
pitch maintenance during half time

buildup to the second goal
goal celebration in front of the ultras

end of match

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