If you are visiting Barcelona between September and June, you will want to try to catch a football match. Even if you are not a sports fan, taking in a match is a great way to get a feel for the city’s sporting history and Catalan culture. There are two main teams in the city – F.C. Barcelona (often called Barca) and Real Club Deportivo Espanyol, better known simply as Espanyol.
Founded in 1899 by a group of football-loving foreigners, F.C. Barcelona embraces its motto – “more than a club.” In addition to its success on the pitch, the club has become a symbol of Catalan culture. Like the Green Bay Packers of the National Football League in the United States, F.C. Barcelona is owned and operated by its fans. It is the most successful club in Spain, highlighted by the fact that in 2009, it became the first club to ever with all six major football trophies in Europe. Barca also has 22 La Liga trophies, 26 Copa del Rey trophies, four UEFA Champions League titles and two FIFA Club World Cup titles.
Espanyol was founded in 1900 as the first club in Spain formed exclusively by Spanish football fans. It tooks its current name in 1912 after being granted patronage by the Spanish crown, giving it the right to use the crown in its logo and “Real” in its name. The club plays its home matches at Estadi Cornella-El Prat, on the outskirts of Barcelona. The stadium is accessible by Metro, tram and commuter train. Tickets to matches can be bought online or at the stadium, with a slight discount available for advance booking. Ticket prices start at 25 Euros and, despite an award-winning, state-of-the-art stadium that opened in 2009, matches rarely sell out.
Barca plays in Camp Nou, which can be reached from the center of Barcelona by Metro or bus. Tickets to matches can be purchased online, with prices starting at 49 Euros. There are usually around 18,000 tickets available to the public, with half of those being released just three days in advance as season ticket holders release tickets they cannot use. If you are not able to attend a match while in Barcelona, you can still visit the stadium and the F.C. Barcelona Museum inside. Tours are available on non-match days for 23 Euros and include the museum, the Messi Space and the Multi-media Zone. The museum is the most popular in Barcelona.
Both Barca and Espanyol play in La Liga, which has been considered the strongest football league in Europe for the past five years. The season runs from September through June and each club plays 38 matches, which generally take place on Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays. The exact time and date for matches are normally not announced until about ten days in advance.