It’s no exaggeration to say that football in Barcelona is a genuine obsession, with support for the local giants FC (Futbol Club) Barcelona raised to an art form. “More than just a club” is the proud boast, and certainly during the dictatorship years the club stood as a Catalan symbol around which people could rally. Arch-rivals, Real Madrid, on the other hand, were always seen as Franco’s club. The swashbuckling players in the famous “blaugrana” (claret and blue) shirts have transcended national barriers to become every football fan’s second favourite team; indeed, the four-times European champions (most recently in 2011) – mercurial masters of the elegant tiki-taka, pass-and-move style – are often hailed as the world’s best team.

Museum and stadium tour

Together, the 98,000-seat stadium and museum – billed as the “Camp Nou Experience” – provide a magnificent celebration of Spain’s national sport. The self-guided tour, complete with audio-guide, winds through the changing rooms and players’ tunnel onto the pitch and up to the press gallery and directors’ box for stunning views. The museum is jammed full of silverware and memorabilia, including the six cups won in 2009 alone, Barcelona’s annus mirabilis, while a cracking multimedia zone profiles historic games and famous players and relives the match-day atmosphere. Finally, you’re directed into the FC Botiga megastore, where you can buy anything from a replica shirt down to a branded bottle of wine.

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