Barcelona’s Victory Over Sevilla Closes the Gap on Madrid

At the start of the weekend of 17th-18th March 2012 FC Barcelona was a full ten points behind their most bitter rivals, Real Madrid, a team that had gelled during Jose Mourinho’s second season in command. While both teams’ performance was amongst the best in the world, it is true that Barcelona hit a flat spot in the early part of the New Year and lost valuable points exactly when they needed to keep within breathing distance of Real Madrid. What must have been galling to Mourinho though was that most football pundits still tipped Barcelona as the world’s best team, despite the evidence painted by the numbers.

The Catalans visited Sevilla on Saturday night, a team that is never walkover, and unlike some recent matches they looked good from the start. Sometimes the players seem to take some time to warm up properly, and this has cost them in the past. However, Barcelona was attacking the Sevilla goal just minutes into the game. While not successful in these early attempts, it did signal their intent. However, when Adriano was knocked to the ground, Barcelona was awarded a free kick. Xavi took the shot from just outside the area and curled the ball into the top corner to put the visitors into the lead after quarter of an hour.

Barcelona continued to attack the Sevilla goal with real flare, showing why they are rated so highly for truly playing “the beautiful game”. And at the twenty-five minute mark Iniesta set up Argentine superstar Lionel Messi, who scored his 150th league goal for Barcelona. The hosts came close to scoring after an error by Pique, but a del Moral header hit the crossbar and the rebound was out of his reach.

Sevilla came on strong in the second half and looked like they might mean business. Despite a good attempt at the goal they soon ran out of energy and Barcelona once again picked up the pace to control the game. Barcelona had several more attempts at scoring a third but they didn’t quite make it and when Messi scored in injury time the goal was ruled offside to leave the final score at 2-0 to Barcelona.

The result meant that Barcelona was temporarily seven points behind Madrid, who were to face Malaga on Sunday. In that match it looked like Madrid was going to win by a single goal on the late Sunday night match. However, a last minute goal by Malaga meant that Madrid had to settle for a single point, leaving Barcelona eight points behind them at the top of the Spanish League. While not impossible to close the gap, realistically the title had already been settled though.

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The 10 Top Places to Shop in Barcelona

If you are seeking the best places to shop in Barcelona, then those detailed below are ten of the most popular. They are used for shopping in Barcelona, both by visitors and also the city’s residents, so are not just used by tourists. This beautiful city is famed, not only for its history and its magnificent architecture, but also for its shopping which is famed throughout the world.

1. Paseo de Gracia:

This famous street is also known locally as Passeig de Gracia, and boasts some of the most expensive shops in Barcelona. Noted for its famous modernist architecture, this street runs from Plaza Catalunya to the metro Diagonal. You will find many famous names here, including Gucci, Desigual, D&G, Jimmy Choo and Manolo Blahnik, and also a number of top restaurants and bars to refresh you when you are tired of shopping. Those searching for world famous brands and pure luxury will be delighted here, but be ready to use your credit card and spend freely since this area is for upscale shopping, and the prices reflect it.

2. Portal de L´Angel:

If you are right in the centre of Barcelona, then this is a pedestrian thoroughfare in the Ciutat Vella (downtown) district beginning at Plaza Catalunya and running to the cathedral. You will find the department store El Cortes Inglés at its start and the street also boasts names such as Benetton, Massimo Dutti, Camper, H&M and Zara. This street offers more economical brands and its target market is a younger crowd, so if you are searching for the latest fashion trends at an affordable price you should come straight here.

3. La Rocca Village:

La Roca Village outlet is situated in the village of the same name that is off Junction 12 of the A7 motorway. You can also get a bus from Fabra I Puig metro in the Sant Andreu district or a train from Sants Station. It’s well worth the time taken to get here because you will find top designer outlets at up to 60% off and some of the best shopping therapy in the world. Being an outlet, it also has a Rebaixes period (seasonal sales) held in July and January when well known luxury brands are sold at a bargain prices.

4. Diagonal Mar:

This area offers a large number of Barcelona shopping stores, cinemas, restaurants and other facilities, as would be expected of one of Barcelona’s newest shopping centres. Open from 10 am to 10 pm, you can shop here day and night. Good for family shopping.

5. L’Illa:

Situated by the corner of Avinguda Diagonal 555-559 and Carrer de Constança, L’Illa is a shopping mall that offers more than 170 shops and restaurants, including Benetton, Diesel and Zara. It is easiest to get the Tombus, or circuit bus, starting at Plaza Catalunya and goes on to stop at 28 locations. This distinctive blue bus will drop you off at Diagonal and Paseo de Gracia allowing you hop on and off for your shopping. When it turns left on Diagonal, wait until it reaches L’Illa and then get off. The advantage of this large shopping center is that you can find mid-priced and well known brands like Zara, Mango, etc., as well as small, unique boutiques with more exclusive models all in the same place.

6. Raval:

Raval offers you a good choice of vintage fashion. You will also find several second hand shops here and the historic Boqueria Market, one of the most famous markets in Europe. Lailo, on Carrer de la Riera Baixa, is an example, offering top-quality goods such as genuine Victorian bustles and vintage dance costumes. However, if you can’ find what you want here, there are several others on the same street for you to check out.

7. Gracia:

Gracia was originally a separate village from Barcelona, and even now it retains its own character with bars, restaurants and plazas, and also several unique boutiques and shoe shops. Although you pay, you are sure to find original and creative fashions here. Get off at the Fontana metro stop and walk down Carrer d’Asturies towards Carrer Verdi and turn right. You will find all you want around this area.

8. Encants Mercat:

This is a flea market, or antique market, however you look at it. Known also as the Mercat Fira de Bellcaire, this is the largest open air market in Barcelona selling anything from books to furniture. You must haggle for a good deal and it is expected that you do. The Encants Mercat is open each day except Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday from 9 am to 6 pm.

9. El Borne:

If you are young (or even not so young) and are looking for a trendy area of Barcelona, then El Borne is for you, with its clothing, shoe and jewelry boutiques. The cafes and bars are packed at night, and you will also find the textile and Picasso museums here. El Borne is where the artists tend to hang out.

10. El Corte Inglés:

Almost where we started, El Corte Inglés is situated in Plaza Catalunya, and is not only Barcelona’s largest department store chain, but also the largest in Spain. There are several around the city, and this is the biggest, offering a range of goods that you would expect to find in a large comprehensive department store. If you like wandering around large stores, then this is for you. In Spain it is said that if you can´t find what you´re looking for, come to El Corte Ingles, because the huge variety of items means you can find almost anything you need.

These are the top 10 places to shop in Barcelona as we see it, and unless otherwise stated, normal store opening hours are from 10 am to 8.30 pm, although you should expect some of the smaller boutiques in areas such as Gracia, Raval and Borne to close for an afternoon siesta from 2 pm to 5 pm.

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