A trip to watch Messi and co was a bit like going to the theatre

An impressive view as Barcelona take on Granada at the Camp Nou.
An impressive view as Barcelona take on Granada at the Camp Nou.

Watching Barcelona is almost like going to a theatre and waiting to be entertained at times.

Perhaps the least surprising news of the week was Lionel Messi winning the Ballon d’Or again on Monday.

After helping Barcelona win five trophies last year, he collected the award for the fifth time, after Cristiano Ronaldo had received it for the previous two years.

With Albion drawn away to Hull City in the FA Cup, I took a mid-season break to watch Barcelona at the Camp Nou on Saturday and was lucky enough to see Messi score a hat-trick in a 4-0 win at home to Granada.

Without ever really getting out of second gear, the current Spanish champions were far too good for a side struggling at the bottom of La Liga.

Messi scored twice inside 14 minutes and the only real surprise was it took him until just before the hour to complete his hat-trick.

There was almost an expectation among everyone in attendance for Messi – and also Neymar – to do something special whenever they got on the ball.

Think of the times when Vicente got you on the edge of your seat at the Amex and it was a similar feeling.

One thing I picked up on, though, was how different the atmosphere was compared to watching games in England.

It was almost like going to a theatre and waiting to be entertained at times. There was no going crazy, jumping up and down, clapping hands wildly or hugging your mates when a goal was scored.

When Neymar netted a late fourth, a number of fans even remained seated and just politely clapped their hands.

Maybe that was due to the standard of opposition but whenever Albion score, there’s always scenes of jubilation among supporters – especially so in a 4-0 win.

The Camp Nou is an amazing stadium, with a 99,354 capacity. A number of seats are in the open but Spanish weather is much nicer than over here, so there’s probably less occasions when the ponchos need to come out, unlike the numerous times they were called upon at the Withdean Stadium.

The concourses could do with a bit of a refurb but the view when you get to your seat is breathtaking.

One tip for anyone intending to go would be to sit in the second tier of the south stand. The view from there is superb, the seats are cheaper and the most lively and loud Barcelona fans are sat below in the first tier – with one fan using a loud speaker to get the crowd going, although I’m not sure if something like that would catch on here.

Another tip would be to get to a game early enough to see Barcelona warm up. The tricks and skills from Neymar are unbelievable to watch and words would not do them justice.

Back on the Albion front, the eight-game winless run is becoming a major concern. Defensive mistakes at one end – and the failure to score at the other – has seen the Seagulls slip to sixth.

A return to winning ways is much-needed to keep pace at the top.