Experience the Thrill of Barca: FC Barcelona Tickets Online

When you approach the stadium on match days there is a real buzz in the air with fans of all ages making their way to the all-seater stadium, the famous Nou Camp, which can hold up to 98,000 spectators. Football is family entertainment in Spain and the fans may consist of die hard supporters in the 20s, middle-aged couples, grandparents with their grandchildren, kids birthday parties – you can see it all.

And when the match kicks off that excitation spills over and becomes uncontainable. The passion and excitement create an atmosphere that is electric – and if you're a football fan going to see Barça play is a must, particularly at the moment with such a great and successful team.

The 2010-11 season was an extraordinary one for FC Barcelona despite not achieving the treble of 2009 – the Copa del Rey went to arch rival Real Madrid instead. We're currently off season as far as league football goes, the period in which football fans look forward to the start of the new season, while non-fans feel relieved at the break.

After the 2010 World Cup, which had an impressive tally of Barça players in the lineup for the final including new signing David Villa, the players were really fired up for the start of the season.
That translated into win after win with a huge goal tally and even Real Madrid, a team never to be underestimated, was destroyed against the might of Barcelona, ​​who completely humiliated them with a 5-0 win at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in November.

For a time scoring 5 goals appeared to be par for the course but they peaked with an 8-0 away win against America. Of course that kind of run could not last, but it does show how much Barcelona dominated the season.

One of the keys to Barcelona's success is the high possession and undutely high fitness levels of the squad to maintain that. Their game is beautiful to match, consisting of pass after pass while they control the pace and position of the ball; and when an opportunity opens up it is the trinity of Xavi, Iniesta and Messi that often makes things happen.

Lionel Messi in particular is something to watch with some moments of completely sublime football. While not everything he does works out, at least it is good to watch and what he can do with the ball looks sometimes to be magic.

Of course all that is appreciated by Barcelona's fans, or Cules as they are known. Matches often take place in a party like atmosphere as great play and hopefully great results melt away everyone's problems in life into the background for the 90 minutes of play for what for some is a quasi religious experience.

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Messi Vs Maradona

Who is the world’s greatest footballer? Many currently place that mantel at the feet of the talismanic Barcelona front man Lionel Messi. But is Messi the greatest EVER player? This is food for thought and in order to come to a conclusion it is important to compare Messi with another Argentinean, a man so often lauded as the greatest footballer of all time – Diego Maradona.

To adequately compare Messi and Maradona it is important to examine their playing styles, abilities, achievements at domestic and international level and the eras in which they both played.

Lionel Messi

Messi began life as an attacking midfielder, but in recent years has been deployed as a forward (rather than a traditional striker). His skill and creativity on the ball means he can dictate the game by dropping deeper, but can push forward and score goals with terrifying regularity.

In the 2012/13 season Messi broke Gerd Müller’s goal-scoring record of 85 goals in a calendar year, a record that stood for 40 years. This has led to many pundits, fans, players and media outlets to proclaim him the greatest player of all time.

Messi’s ability is undeniable, especially as, at the age of 11 he was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency, which lends to his small stature and meant he had to develop pace, touch and skill at a young age in order to compete at the highest level.

Despite having won everything at domestic level, question marks still remain over Messi’s ability to transfer his form to the international stage. In an Argentina shirt he doesn’t appear to possess the same magic as in a Barcelona jersey.

There are also reservations as to whether Messi could deliver playing in other European league’s; the Premier League for example. The game in England is much more physical and fast paced than in Spain and some ponder whether Messi would be as good playing outside of Spain.

Diego Maradona

A generation (or so) before Lionel Messi there was another Argentinean who wore the famous scarlet and blue of Barcelona. His name was Diego Armando Maradona.

The mercurial Argentinean was technically gifted, a playmaker and great strategist. His skill on the ball was unrivalled and despite being an attacking midfielder, Maradona regularly scored at a rate that would have rivalled most strikers.

Many fans, pundits, experts, players and critics regard Maradona as perhaps the greatest footballer who ever lived.

He began his career at Argentinos Juniors before transferring to Brazilian heavyweights Boca Juniors, where he spent a season. It was then that he moved to FC Barcelona for a (then) world record fee of £5 million. A record he himself would later break with a £6.9 million move to Napoli. Maradona spent two injury plagued seasons at the Nou Camp, but still managed 38 goals in 58 games and helped the team to win both domestic cups.

Following several disputes Maradona transferred to Italian club Napoli in 1984. It was here he enjoyed the most successful spell of his career, winning 2 Seria A titles, the Coppa Italia, the Italian Super Cup and the UEFA Cup. He also finished as top scorer in Serie A at the end of the 1987/88 season.

Maradona also produced on the international stage, where he was instrumental in Argentina’s World Cup win in 1986 and runner up finish in 1990. He also won the World Cup Golden Boot in 1986.

Conclusion

Whilst Messi may have won more domestic trophies and broken more goal-scoring records, there is no doubting that Maradona played in a much tougher and more physically demanding era of the sport. He also played in weaker sides than Messi and perhaps most importantly, produced at international level. Its unlikely Messi will move to a smaller unfashionable team to elevate them to greatness like Napoli. After all his current Barcelona side is built to accommodate him. The support of numerous talented Spanish internationals such Xavi and Iniesta combine with Messi to create a potent attacking force. One could argue this set-up make the diminutive Argentinean look better than he actually is.

It is worth noting that Maradona is an outspoken and patriotic man, whilst the young pretender is more introverted and timid in nature. This is partly the reason why he doesn’t enjoy the same level of adulation from his home country.

Comparing them is difficult as the eras they played in were so different, but taking everything into account Maradona edges Messi as the greatest ever footballer. With the world Cup 2014 looming in Brazil Messi does have the opportunity to turn this round.

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FC Barcelona's Arch-Rival – The History of Real Madrid

Real Madrid – FIFA 'Team of the Century'; 31 League titles; 9 European Cups; a couple of UEFA Cups and World Club Champions titles.

Also, bizarrely, it is a club that has in recent years nurtured the custom of sacking successful managers. Jupp Heynckes went four weeks after winning a Champions League title, Fabio Capello and Bernd Schuster won the league title before one was basically sacked for being too defensive and the other for being too reckless. The prize, though, for what it's worth, goes to Vicente Del Bosque, current manager of the national squad, who was dismissed the day after winning the league in a room at the hotel in which his players were having their celebratory dinner!

Real Madrid originated in 1897 when a number of students and lecturers at the Institucíon Libre de Enseñanza began playing friendly matches on Sunday mornings. From these humble beginnings, Madrid Football Club emerged in 1902 – gaining its royal patronage and club name in 1920 from King Alfonso XIII. The club became founder members of the Spanish League in 1929 – when Barca won the inaugural title and El Clásico, as the fixture between the two clubs is known in Spain – began in earnest.

From the beginning, the rivalry was intense but it developed significantly during the years after the Civil War. There are, of course, many stories of the way Franco's government promoted the interests of Real Madrid in order to develop his, and Spain's, international prestige. Also, the manner in which Barcelona attempted to retain a Catalan identity at a time when the language and flag were banned is well recounted. Barça became 'More than a Club' and the phrase Así gana el Madrid – that's how Madrid win – became part of Spanish sporting lore.

There are two of these stories, however, that sometimes shed most light on the situation in those difficult times.

In 1942, Barcelona had won the Spanish Cup – now known as the Cope del Rey but then renamed as the Copa del Generalísimo. The following season they were pitted against Real in a two-legged semi-final and won the first match convincingly, by three goals to nil, despite having their star player, Escolá, stretched off. The second leg, though, was rather a different matter – finishing an astonishing 11 – 1 to Madrid. Not only was the Head of State Security known to have visited the Barça dressing room before the match to tell some of the players that their right to remain in Spain was being reviewed, but also the sending off of a player in the first few minutes made sure that the rest of the team got the right message!

The other classic example of the manner in which Barcelona feels that they suffered during the Franco years concerns sometimes the most famous player ever to wear a Real Madrid shirt – Alfredo di Stéfano, who remains an iconic figure in the Madrid hierarchy even today. In 1953, the Argentinian center forward, described by Bobby Charlton as the most intelligent player he had seen, was signed by Barcelona from his Columbian club, Millonarios. After di Stéfano had appeared in a couple of friendly matches, and after an implied and underhand series of 'negotiations', the Spanish FA declared that the transfer was invalid and the player was triumphantly unveiled by Madrid. Two weeks later, he made his debut in a 5 – 0 victory over Barcelona in the Bernabéu – scoring four goals and starting his journey towards legendary status.

Even the transfer of Luis Figo in 2000 pales into insignificance compared to the machinations involved in the di Stéfano move.

With such a fierce, and continuing, rivalry between these two giant clubs, this puts the events of Barcelona's 3-0 away victory in 2000 into an even more dramatic standpoint; that was the night that the Madrid supporters rose to their feet and applauded Ronaldinho after maybe his best performance in the club's colors.

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