For anyone staying in Barcelona any period of time between June and May each year, whether in an apartment to rent in Barcelona or simply staying in a short-term let for the weekend, there is a high probability that you will see at least once the streets swell with red and blue clad soccer supporters spilling out of every bar, cafe and place where two streets meet singing ‘Barça, Barça, Barça!’ Football is the sport of Spain, with most members of the public either playing casually or watching the UEFA Champion League fanatically and nearly every single person ascribing to a team. In Barcelona that team is FC Barcelona, however there are the occasional Real Madrid fans that litter what is usually a sea of ‘Blaugranas’ (literally Blue and Reds, the colours of FC Barcelona). Regardless of their team, the Spanish are fanatic about their national pastime.
Soccer, or Football as it’s known in Europe, is the most popular sport on the planet, with more people tuning in to watch the FIFA World Cup Final than any other sporting event (including the Olympics). It accounts for more cash revenue than the next three successive worldwide competitions. Their teams are almost becoming corporations, with mergers and trades ranking in the millions of euros. This amount of money is only possible due to the huge popularity that the game attracts worldwide. At any point in the year in almost any cafe or bar in the country, there is a television with a soccer game playing. This is in part due to Spain’s proficiency in the sport. Spanish teams Real Madrid and FC Barcelona together have taken home the Cup thirteen times since the league’s inception in the early 90s, and with the skill level of some of those teams players, modern-day legends like: Lionel Messi; Andres Iniesta; Xavi Hernandez – all of whom are making the game truly beautiful when played – the citizens take notice.
FC Barcelona dominates as the team for Catalonia. Locally it is known as “more than a club”, as it represents the region of Catalonia rather than just another city in Spain. FC Barcelona is one of the biggest ambassadors for Catalonia globally – in fact, FC Barcelona were advocates for the autonomy of Barcelona almost 100 years ago and continue to represent Catalonia as a distinct identity throughout the world. It is this cultural relationship, and the fact that FC Barcelona is one of the top ranking teams in the Champions League and has some of the best players in the game, that so many Catalonians identify with the team. In fact, you will be just as likely to spot Barça flags as Catalonian flags hanging from the balconies of many rental apartments in the barrios of Barcelona.
If you’ve never been to or watched a football game before, one of the best ways to enjoy some time with the locals and develop an understanding as to why football is referred to as ‘the beautiful game’, try and get to one of the hundreds of bars in the city that will play the FC Barcelona games. On the Rambla, try La Taverna de Barcelona for an authentic experience, as any game day will have hundreds of Blaugaranas barracking for their team sometimes hours before kickoff. Try and get in early to ensure that you’ll have a table, else you’ll be forced to stand. This Sunday will be one of the best times to really entrench yourself in the game, as FC Barcelona will be playing Real Madrid in Madrid. Kick-off is at 8pm, so be sure to get a table well before then as the game promises to be a lively one.