Soccer in Barcelona
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Futbol Club Barcelona. Founded in 1899, the Futbol Club Barcelona attained its greatest glory in May 2009, when its victory over Manchester United in Rome sealed the club's third European Championship and Spain's first-ever triplete (triple), taking home all of the silverware: League, Cup, and European titles. Even more impressive, to friend and foe alike, was the way they did it, playing a wide-open razzle-dazzle style of soccer rarely seen in age of cynical defensive lockdowns and muscular British-style play. Barça, as the club is affectionately known, is Real Madrid's perennial nemesis (and vice-versa) as well as a sociological and historical phenomenon of deep significance in Catalonia. Supported by more than 150,000 season-ticket holders, the team was the only legal outlet for Catalan nationalist sentiment during the 40-year Franco regime. Despite giant budgets and the world's best players, Barcelona's results never seemed to live up to full potential, an anomaly Catalans were quick to blame on Madrid and the influence and manipulation, real or imagined, of the Franco regime. This all changed after 1975, with Barcelona winning four consecutive league titles and 10 of the last 27. Nevertheless, Madrid's nine European cups (to Barcelona's four including their most recent title in 2011) are still a sore point for long-suffering Barcelona soccer fans. Ticket windows at Access 14 to the stadium are open Monday though Saturday and game-day Sundays 10–2 and 5–8; you can also buy tickets at Servicaixa, an ATM at Caixa de Catalunya bank entrances, and elsewhere. Camp Nou, Arístides Maillol, Les Corts, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08028. 93/496–3600. www.fcbarcelona.com.
RCD Espanyol. Things began to look up a bit for this soccer team, long languishing in a tiny stadium above the Diagonal, when the club moved west to the suburb of Cornellà and into a new state-of-the-art 40,500-seat home base. Espanyol still struggles to survive in the League First Division, but enjoys the support of enthusiastic local fans. Tickets are best purchased at Servicaixa machines. Take the T1 tramway from Plaça Francesc Macià. Nou Estadi, Av. Baix Llobregat 100, Cornellà de Llobregat, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08940. 93/292–7700. www.rcdespanyol.com.
Spain Ticket Bureau. This company can score seats for Barça home games, as well as other sporting events, concerts, and musicals, in Barcelona and elsewhere in Spain. Booking ahead online is a good idea, especially for headliner events, but expect to pay a healthy premium. Rambla de Catalunya 89, Entl. A, Eixample, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08007. 93/488–2266 or 902/903912. www.spainticketbureau.com. Passeig de Gràcia, Catalunya.
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