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Studying Abroad and Watching FC Barcelona Shine on Gameday

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A study abroad student smiling and taking a selfie in front of a soccer field in a stadium

Watching an FC Barcelona Game Like No Other While Studying Abroad in Barcelona, Spain   

If it wasn’t already clear on the streets, it soon was in metro stations. It was game day. And soon, FC Barcelona would take to the pitch and bring joy to thousands of people. From my first metro stop to the Espanya station, I noticed that more and more people with Barça jerseys and scarves flooded the metro. There was a great sense of anticipation in the air. But that was honestly just the beginning. 

A group of study abroad students with their backs to the camera walking toward a set of stairs

Walking to Estadio Olímpico Lluís Companys

Because what awaited us all on our final stop (Pl. Espanya) was a 21-minute walk that felt like a pilgrimage of sorts. From the steep stairs and escalators on the horizon to the historic vibe created by the nearby MNAC museum, it seemed as if I and hundreds of others were on our way to a sacred place. We were in fact on our way to Estadio Olímpico Lluís Companys, Barça’s temporary home stadium. (Here are other takeaways from Barcelona and Madrid museums.)

 

A group of people walking across a street toward a stadium

Arriving at the stadium

 

A Puzzling Start

The game started in an extremely surprising way, with Deportivo Alavés taking the lead within the first 60 seconds. When 19-year-old Samu Omorodion netted a goal, there was a sudden hush in the stadium and then widespread whistling—a clear expression of fans’ disapproval of the game up until that point. 

I don’t think anyone could believe what happened before their eyes—I know I couldn’t! My first thought was that Omorodion was offside, but nope. A few seconds passed, and the goal stood. Barça were down 1-0. 

A group of people sitting in stands at a soccer stadium watching the game taking place on the field

Alavés strikes early

Credit should be given where it’s due. Alavés started the game on the front foot, and Barça looked a little rattled after conceding a goal. Interestingly, Omorodion went on to have several opportunities to score. One shot would hit the post and others would miss the goal by just a few inches. He used his strong physique so well and I enjoyed seeing him duel with players like Jules Koundé and Ronald Araújo. 

As the game progressed, and more Barça players got touches on the ball, the momentum shifted in the team’s favor. Soon, there were more passes and goal-scoring opportunities, and the players visibly grew in confidence. 

The Turning Point 

Soccer players celebrating on a field at a stadium, as seen from the stands

Lewandowski scores a penalty

 

It just had to be Robert Lewandowski, didn’t it? The prolific Polish striker secured an equalizer at the 53rd minute with a curling header that lifted the fans’ spirits and injected passion into his teammates. 

Now, players moved the ball more quickly, and their body language suggested that they were more comfortable taking risks and attacking the opposing goal more often. Players like João Félix and Lamine Yamal were among them. From their dazzling runs to their hypnotic body feints, they zigzagged defenders and created many dangerous attacking plays. 

As I watched all of this art in motion, I couldn’t help but pause and realize that I was watching players I had only seen on TV in the past. Now, I could see things that I couldn’t before. I saw how players moved off the ball, how their body language changed when bad calls were made, and how players on both sides used high fives and pats on the back to encourage their teammates. All these little details are easy to miss if one only follows the ball. But they somehow make football more engaging. 

The Fans — The Literal Heartbeat of the Stadium 

Without too much effort, one could hear the beating of drums as Barça fans urged their team on. As is typical in football games, chants were let loose after a great passing sequence or when Barça won a corner. But even in some of the duller moments of the game, the fans made themselves heard. 

I feel like halftime in any sport is always a good time. There are bound to be smiles and lots and lots of funny awkward moments! From kids showing off some trending dance moves to love cams creating hilarious situations, there’s always a reason to laugh. And, of course, there's always hope that it’ll be one of us who pops up on the big screen :) 

Halftime at the stadium also provided people the opportunity to shop at the Barça store and buy a souvenir if they fancied one. From FC Barcelona-themed sweaters to official jerseys, you’ll probably find something that interests you. 

Lewandowski’s Not Done Yet 👀 

In the 76th minute, Ferran Torres was brought down in the penalty box, and the referee deemed it a foul. This was it. The golden opportunity. And none other than Lewandowski was the penalty taker. Will he shoot left? Will he shoot right? Will he score? Will he miss? So many questions swirled in my mind as he prepared to take the crucial shot. But he’s Lewandowski… 

So of course he scored! And The Crowd. Went. Wild! He netted his second goal of the game with such calmness, such composure. As usual, he hopped, skipped, and placed a precise shot into the goal, after waiting a split second for the keeper to make a move one way. I’ve seen players like Jorginho and Bruno Fernandes use similar techniques, and have always marveled at their penalty method. So seeing something similar firsthand by one of the best strikers in football history was exhilarating! 

The Final Whistle 

The next few minutes were nerve-wracking. I kept wondering if Alavés would find a way to get another goal before the final whistle—they looked dangerous on a few occasions. But it wasn’t meant to be. This was Barça’s day. 

As I left the amazing stadium, I was delighted to not only have watched my first Barça game, but to have seen them win. I’ve always respected the team for how it changed football and produced some of the greatest players ever. So seeing what the team looks like today, and the joy it continues to bring fans from all over the globe was sensational. I couldn’t have asked for anything more. 

A study abroad student smiling and taking a selfie in front of a soccer field in a stadium

Yours truly satisfied after a great game. 

 


Christopher Olusayo (Sayo) Adeniji is the Content Creator - Blogger in Barcelona, Spain, and is currently studying at Hofstra University.
 
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