Talking Soccer: Falling in love once again

Barcelona's Jordi Alba, second right, is congratulated by teammate Suarez after scoring a goal against after scoring against Valencia during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between Valencia and FC Barcelona at the Mestalla stadium in Valencia, Spain, Sunday, Nov. 26, 2017. (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)

Driving to the venue, walking the steps, sitting in your seat and watching everything with the curiosity of a child. Those who love sports and get the chance to travel to their team’s arena know the excitement of watching a game in your own place.

For sports fans around the area who love the Celtics, Red Sox, Yankees, Giants and Patriots, being able to attend a game is not that hard. For some, the games might be expensive, but if you really wanted to, a short drive and enough saved money will suffice to watch your team in the best venue possible.

In my case, being a fan of a European soccer team made it harder to experience some of those sweet moments sports fans love. At least until this Thanksgiving break.

After months of planning, savings and preparation, I took a plane to Barcelona for myself and the adventure began. The prospects of being in a beautiful city were exciting but I would be lying if I said the biggest part of my trip wasn’t centered around visiting Camp Nou, the biggest stadium in  Europe, and home to my favorite team and player.

Camp Nou is a historic stadium that turned 60 years old this year and has hosted magical nights of European soccer. This year precisely it witnessed Barcelona making one of the greatest comebacks in soccer history.

After losing 4-0 in Paris, Barcelona had to beat Paris Saint Germain by at least five goals without allowing any opposing goals to advance to the quarterfinals of the Champions League. Barcelona did it - in the last seconds of the game, right back Sergi Roberto put the final touch and Barcelona was through. It was exhilarating, amazing and one of the best moments of soccer I’ve seen.

Camp Nou has seen some of the best players in the world, both rivals and home players. They come to this cathedral of soccer and put on a show for everyone. There’s no place like it and for me it was always a dream to visit it.

After years of dreaming of visiting the stadium, I was able to. I walked through the doors and entered the museum. Every inch of Barcelona history is kept in there - with videos, pictures and trophies. It was magical to see the team’s history from before I was born and the more recent history I was able to see.

After that, I walked the stadium tour. I got to walk down the tunnel that players like Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta, Manuel Neuer, Cristiano Ronaldo and Edison Cavani have taken to the pitch.

Walking down the tunnel and then into the field, I got butterflies thinking of the times I’ve seen the players walk down and emerge onto the field in all of its glory. The motto of the team - mes que un club (more than a club) - was staring back at me.

It was beautiful and mesmerizing. I felt so lucky to be able to be in that position, to be able to be inside my favorite place in the world. Every moment was precious and treasured in my heart. Sitting in the same bench Barcelona sits in, taking in stands, the concourse and the view.

My personal favorite part was taking in the conference room and the press box at Camp Nou. I wanted to become a journalist because I wanted to report from stadiums, and Camp Nou was the goal.

To be able to sit there and imagine what it would be like to one day sit in those seats where writers and TV personalities report on the game was like falling in love with this team, with the sport and with the job path I chose.


Daniela Marulanda is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at daniela.marulanda@uconn.edu.