26 May 2009

FC Barcelona's last home game for the season

Barça has already won La Liga (Spanish League)and La Copa del Rey (Spanish cup or King's Cup) for 2009. Tomorrow night, a win against Man U in the UEFA Champions' League Final to be played in Rome would give them a handsome triple crown.

Click on the images to enlarge them

BarcaFan02Campions (Champions) merchandise is already very popular around here!

Originally scheduled for Sunday, Barça's last home game for the season against Osasuna was moved to Saturday so that FCB has an extra day to prepare for their UEFA match.

Camp Nou quickly filled with about 80,000 people who really weren't there to see the match, but to see their team presented with the La Liga trophy afterwards.

Barca_Fan01Messi Fan

The game wasn't a thrilling affair with FCB fielding a side made up of the second string, as well as young players from Barça Atlètic, because coach Pep Guardiola was resting his mainstream players. The only top players on the field were Abidal and Eto'o; the latter coming off in the second half to be replaced by Keita.

BarcaTeamHuddleThe customary team huddle before leaving the pitch after warm-up

To be honest, the crowd deserved a better last home game, but given that there is a chance for UEFA glory, Pep was forgiven. It was evident that the Barça team was not at full strength with some weak passing not finding team-mates, woeful freekicks and corners. They had the possession but couldn't clinch the required goals. Even Bojan was off-colour and Eto'o (who was mainly playing this match to try and increase his goal count to qualify for this year's top La Liga scorer award), just couldn't get it together.

In the 26th minute Osasuna scored from a corner, much to the delight of their fans as this keeps alive their hopes of staying in the premier division for next year.

The second half was full of action for all the wrong reasons. In the 81st minute, after a horrible Barça free kick attempt, Osasuna quickly got the ball down the pitch. Substitute Marc Muniesa, in his debutant appearance for FCB, made a sliding tackle for the ball and was a fraction late. Instead, he skittled the Osasuna player which should have earned him a yellow card and a warning, but referee Antonio Rubinos Pérez (from Madrid!) waved the red and a disgusted Muniesa stomped from the field.

Guardiola was quickly off the bench in protest and running down the sideline. To show his sarcastic appreciation for the ref, he applauded him and gave him the thumbs-up. For his trouble, he too was red-carded and sent down the stairs.

The crowd went into overdrive. Their beloved coach had been sent from the field, as well as a young player red-carded!

Extra security personnel quickly ran to guard the pitch circumference as the incensed crowd started to wave white handkerchiefs, boo, and whistle at the referee. The handkerchief waving is called pañolada and is a traditional Spanish way of showing disgust, anger or respect at football matches. In this instance, it was very much for the first two. (At bullfights, it only means appreciation, I believe.)

Panolada02The pañolada in full flight

The pañolada continued for the rest of the match, pausing briefly so that the crowd could yell encouragement to a Barça fan (dressed in the player's strip), who, despite all the security, managed to run onto the pitch and stand in front of ref Pérez to ask him about his decision. He was quickly tackled by about 6 security men and taken away.

FanOnThePitchThe fan gets hauled off the pitch

The three guys from London sitting beside me (who are Arsenal supporters 1st, FCB supporters 2nd and who hate Man U and Chelsea!), couldn't believe what they were seeing! They reckoned that by this time at a game in the UK, the crowd would be rioting and the game called off. Instead, here was the crowd showing their dissatisfaction by waving hankies in the air. This is what makes Camp Nou such a special place!

Match over, the ref was booed from the pitch and once he disappeared, the crowd settled down again. Here was what we had come to see.


The La Liga cup was brought onto the pitch, and was followed by the Barça team who had changed into shirts which read "Campions 09" (Champions 09) on the backs.

CampionsThe team assembles for the trophy presentation

Captain Carles Puyol was presented with the cup and he was hoisted into the air by his team-mates.

PuyolCupPuyol is lifted by the team as he holds the cup

A victory lap around the pitch showed off both La Liga and Copa del Rey cups, with players and crowd applauding wildly.

Walkabout01Goalie Pinto holds La Copa del Rey aloft while at the back, Piqué has the La Liga trophy

The team then posed for the press under 2 confetti cannons,
and speeches were made by almost the entire first team and by Pep Guardiola.

Guardiola Pep Guardiola is thrown into the air

Another victory lap around the field in the opposite direction followed.

Walkabout02Another victory lap

Curiously, not long after the second victory lap started, Thierry Henry left the team to return to the middle, where he sat by the coaching staff, stretching his legs and feet. Although he does currently have a knee injury, it was a move that made him look isolated and we hope that this isn't a sign that he is moving on. I love to watch him play.

ThierryHenryThierry Henry sits in solitude

Boom! Fireworks exploded into the sky behind us, so low that some of the sparks started to hit people seated in the upper rows of the stadium. The team settled down to watch and fireworks were also let off within the stadium from batteries on the pitch. It was a loud affair which lasted for about 10 minutes.

Time to say goodnight: once more, the team waved to the whole stadium and then disappeared down the tunnel.

GoodbyeFestivities over

The happy crowd filtered out of the gates to go home - or to head into the city for more partying.

CrowdLeavesHappy people leaving Camp Nou for the last time this season

Up next, it's Man U in Rome on Wednesday.

Visca Barça!


Anonymous said...

great post -- i found your site while watching delayed highlights of the match and googled what in the world they were doing with the hankies. thanks for the explanation!

nzm said...

Thank you for visiting our blog!

I also hope to have video of the night up soon.

nzm said...

Videos are here

Lindon Hughes said...

Thanks for the great memories. Viva la Barca el Campeones!

nzm said...

Thanks Lindon, and welcome to our blog!