Trip to Bernabeu and witnessing El Clasico
The inspirational part
There are these things called dreams. I don’t have many of them; I’m not a dreamy type. But as a Madridista living in Russia, I’ve always dreamt of going to the games of my favorite club or at least visiting the Bernabeu once. It’s weird how one day you decide that enough is enough and it’s time to fulfill your dream. You just stop making excuses, you find time, means, willpower and what more is necessary to start doing everything for the dream to come true.
I chose my goal at the beginning of the season – the home league game against Barcelona. Back then I couldn’t imagine what situation Real Madrid would find themselves in March. So I booked an apartment in Madrid, got my visa and plane tickets, all with the support of my sister and friend Maria who chose to share this dream with me for which I am very grateful. But the most important thing was to buy tickets for the game- with all the people around me knowing I was going to the game, I would become a joke if I didn’t find tickets.
As I found out, tickets for a league game (unless VIP, EUR 400 – 1700) may be acquired one week before the game. First, Real Madrid socios, season ticket holders, are given the priority of choosing seats. The next day holders of Madridista cards are allowed to buy tickets, and after that the remaining tickets become available for public. As a Madridista card holder, I hoped to get my tickets for a reasonable price. At 10:00 am Madrid time, the sale began and I felt like it was the Olympic Games and I had to get to the tickets first. It took me 40 minutes and so much nerve to beat all the ‘unexpected errors’ and ‘not enough tickets’ to get my two long-awaited tickets for EUR 150, with seats in different parts of the Tribuna Norte. After getting confirmation of purchase, I felt like I defused a bomb by cutting the right wire.
We left Moscow 2 days after Real Madrid eliminated Barcelona from the Copa del Rey 1-3 at the Camp Nou. As it happened, I chose to attend the least important game out of the 3 tough encounters we had that week. Losing any game would mean either we are eliminated from the Copa del Rey or I get to see the defeat from the stands or we are eliminated from the Champions League. What were the odds we win them all? With all the reports that Mourinho would rest most of the squad for the game in Manchester, honestly, I was preparing myself for a bitter result at the Bernabeu.
Before the game
One day before the game, we decided that we should use our chance to get autographs of the players. So the morning of the match-day we were out in Madrid streets, looking for a big piece of paper to make a poster, which is not easy in Europe on Saturdays. I felt like a 16-year-old fan girl.
3 hours before the game, 3 grown-up girls, with signs in Spanish saying we came from Moscow for the game, were heading to the team hotel. Half way through, we understood that the chances were high the team would have left the hotel by the time we arrived. We decided not to risk it and greet the players when the bus arrives at the stadium. When we arrived, I got a series of mini heart attacks as I saw the Bernabeu; so beautiful and magnificent! There were already many people there, with scarves of different colors. No tension between the fans of the rival teams at all! We walked around the stadium and found the place which was most probably where the bus should arrive. The crowd was growing every minute but we didn’t lose hope. And here we saw a white bus approaching the stadium; Maria and I unfolded the posters to show it to … the Barcelona press. The players didn’t arrive with any of the next 3 buses. Disappointed and feeling stupid, we decided to leave the spot in search of a ticket for my friend.
Buying a ticket – Take 2
2 hours before the game, the ticket touts were selling tickets for about 300 EUR. 1 hour before the game you could buy it for about EUR 170, which initially cost 120. Official ticket offices also had some tickets remaining, 120 EUR minimum. We were determined to buy it cheaper. That’s when we really needed the sign we’d made for the players. In the back side we wrote that we needed a ticket for 80 EUR. People were pointing at us and smiling, someone even asked to take a photo with us. We only agreed to exchange a photo for a ticket but the guy wouldn’t agree. At last, a guy came up to us. He had a season ticket and agreed to sell his seat at the upper layer for 80 EUR! With the crisis in Spain growing more and more, season ticket holders sell their seats for the big games both in Madrid and Barcelona to earn some money.
I entered the stadium 20 minutes before the game. It was half empty. With the number of tickets offered, I thought it would not be full but I was wrong. You need only 5 minutes to enter the stadium and find your seat, so many people come right by the time of kick-off. I found my seat among some older Madridistas who’d seen a lot of games at the Bernabeu unlike me. They were even somehow surprised to see a new face in the seats which are usually sold to socios. Unfortunately, their command of English and mine of Spanish didn’t allow me know much about them, but they were good company anyway.
To tell you the truth, at the stadium I was not worried about the outcome as I am usually worried at home, especially against Barcelona. I was too busy trying to see and remember as much as possible. Since the game was not decisive, the atmosphere at the stadium wasn’t tense as you would expect at the game against the Catalans. Ultra Sur were good, they were chanting and whistling and shouting but the rest of the fans … they just came to watch the game. Of course, from time to time, the whole stadium was united in the ‘Puta Barca’ chants but generally, they were not very loud.
My seats offered me a great view. When Benzema scored from Morata’s assist I couldn’t believe my eyes! It was so close, so beautiful, I was so happy. The two other goals were scored at the opposite side so the view was not so good but the emotions were overwhelming.
I won’t describe the game here, as you’ve seen it yourself and my emotions are really hard to describe. I couldn’t believe it was happening to me, I couldn’t believe we scored so early, I couldn’t believe we missed that unnecessary goal, I couldn’t believe Sergio scored the winner; we played so good and I was witnessing it all. I still can’t believe. 10 minutes before the whistle I was ready to cry, as I realized it was about to end soon. But when it ended, I left the stadium with the feeling of complete happiness.
2 out of the 5 days we spent in Madrid were football related. The next day we came back to the Bernabeu for a tour. An unforgettable 2 hours! The organization, the museum and the feeling are totally worth the money. The idea that so many things happened there makes the tour even more amazing.
People to remember
My trip to Madrid proved once again that internet, particularly Twitter, offers you great opportunities. A year ago, when Madrid travelled to Moscow for a game against CSKA in the Champions League, I wrote a post about the game. I mentioned that it was my dream to watch a game at the Bernabeu and Gaëlle from http://www.madridismo.org commented that one day we would watch the game together. We didn’t exactly watch it together as Gaëlle had to work in the mixed zone and watched the game from the seats for press, but we met the next day at the Real café at the Benabeu. I think we could have spent hours there talking about Real Madrid. It was really a very interesting and nice meeting and what the guys do for the fans around the world who don’t live in Madrid and don’t have a chance to follow their team so closely, is amazing. I’m forever grateful for that and happy to meet in person. Cheers, guys!
With the help of Twitter again, I got to know Grigor, an Armenian, who has a bar outside Madrid with the Real Madrid museum there. Madridistas come to watch the game at his bar and AS even made a video about one of such gatherings. Grigor has been living in Madrid for 15 years and when he knew a fellow Armenian Madridista was travelling from Moscow for the game, he prepared presents for me and we met at the stadium. Now I own a 25-year-old ball with autographs of the players and a flag with the players of Hierro era in it. Still can’t believe his generosity and my luck. Need to go back to Madrid to visit his bar one day!
I did my best not to fill this post with only superlative adjectives but make it informative and useful and hopefully motivating.
Watch football, support Real Madrid, fulfill your dreams!