|FC Barcelona spelled out in the seats at Camp Nou|
We arrived at Camp Nou fairly early. We didn't know how long the trip would take by subway and hoof (one hour, more or less). We wanted time to check out the sites around the stadium. And we wanted to soak in the atmosphere.
Apparently fans of FC Barcelona are sufficiently polite -- at least against teams low in the table -- that the fans of Las Palmas could make a small scene outside of stadium grounds. The Las Palmas fans are the ones waving the giant (canary) yellow flag.
The fan store is outside the stadium. It is huge. Complete kits available for every player in a multitude of alternative uniforms, from the standard blue-and-red vertical stripes, the blue-and-red horizontal stripes (the uniform style Barça wore to play), and the yellow-and-red Catalan colors uniform.
Want to buy a Catalan flag striped soccer ball? The FC Barcelona fan store has many.
The store is huge. If you were an FC Barcelona fanatic, I could see you dropping serious coin in here.
Game time was almost an hour away, so it was time to head inside the stadium.
We had an excellent seats, near the pitch. They were a little cheaper than the most expensive ticket because they were in the sun. Fortunately, it was an overcast day.
Lots and lots of Lionel Messi 10 jerseys throughout the stadium. There were some Neymar 11 jerseys, mostly on attractive woman. I did not see any Suarez #9 jerseys in the crowd until we were leaving after the game.
Great seats we had, only eight rows back. Finally, the game started, right on time. No national anthems, but they did do the ceremony where the each players walks out onto the pitch holding the hand of some child.
See that tiny #11 playing for Barça? That is Brazilian star Neymar. With a buzz cut. He has shaved his boy band / Kajagoogoo haircuit and now he has a shaved head. He was almost unrecognizable.
Yes, that's Neymar.
And this man, #2 for Las Palmas, David Simon, played like he was their best player. I don't know who he is. And I don't know how highly he is regarded, but he played great for the visiting Las Palmas.
I could give you a description of what was happening in the game while I shot these pictures, but I would be completely making it up.
The score was 1-0 at the half on a Luis Suarez goal in the 25th minute, Suarez added another goal in the 52nd minute to put Barça up 2-0.
As shown on the scoreboard. See all those fans dressed in (canary) yellow to the left of the scoreboard above? That is the visitor section at Camp Nou, the largest soccer stadium in the civilized world. The fans visiting from Las Palmas in the Canary Islands are perched way up high in this 98,000 seat stadium, dressed in their (canary) yellow. Oh, and by "civilized" world, I am referencing the fact that there purportedly a 150,000 seat soccer stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea, which would be the largest in the world if it actually exists. With North Korea, you can't be sure.
Barça went up 2-0, but missed a lot of chances. Neymar missed a penalty kick. Perhaps he was shorn of his soccer prowess when he was shorn of his Boy Band locks. Other Barça players missed chip shot goals. Then Las Palmas got a late goal to narrow the score to 2-1. Despite some frantic final few minutes of excitement, FC Barcelona held on to win 2-1, with Luis Suarez providing all of the goal scoring Barça needed (and got).
You could say that Luis Suarez took a big bite out of Las Palmas.
What about Lionel Messi? Substituted out after a mere 10 minutes. He hurt his knee on a routine drive to the goal. MCL tear, scheduled to be out seven to eight weeks. This could be significant as
FC Barcelona tries to defend its La Liga title AND its Champion's League title.
The Las Palmas fans were certainly happy with the game's outcome. They saw their team come into Camp Nou, which is supposed to be an intimidating place to play -- although the fans did not seem like a threatening presence this day -- and give FC Barcelona everything it could handle. When you cheer for a low-in-the-table team in the European leagues, the noble struggle is good enough. It was a fun day at Camp Nou.