15.04.2012 PRIMERA DIVISION 2011/2012
Espanyol Barcelona - CF Valencia 4:0
Both prior to as well as after the game, I had to explain to most of my colleagues that it was NOT about FC Barcelona - association of the Catalonian capital with one of the world's famous teams is immediate and straightforward. "Espanyol? Ah, yes, indeed, I heard something..." - a typical fate of smaller clubs, with less trophies and minor fame versus the one enjoyed by the mighty neighbours from the same city. Yet there are several exceptions within the rule (London, Milan, Rome etc) where disproportions in football glory and fame is marginal or negligible.
I bought the tickets through the Club webpage - very simple process (English language version available), one may even have a look at the views offered from the seat of choice. Once payment has been settled (eg. via credit card), we need to make a printout to be produced at the stadium gate (counter #2) - we get the actual tickets in return.
24 thousand spectators came to see Valencia in action. Surprisingly low attendance (versus the stadium capacity of ca. 40 thousand) given the visiting team's reputation and current rank - just behind the Primera Division giants, qualifying for the Champions League. The guests made fairly better impression in the opening phase of the game whereas Espanyol looked like a bunch of guys appointed to the match five minutes before with not even half a striker foreseen. This has radically changed since the first goal - Espanyol reigned proudly and solely.
Sergio Garcia, a swift left winger wearing a featurable ponny tail on his head, impressed me most. He assisted at the first as well as the third goal and quite deservedly, he got a standing ovation while substituted at the end of the match.
Very varied doping and hardly any malediction towards the mighty Barca - the police troops had been casually watching the crowds well knowing nothing worth intervention was likely to happen. There was a queue to the club souvenir shop and at a first glance it looked as if the goods were scarce. Would be good though, to get an Espanyol jersey below the counter, as an absolute unique item...