Friday, March 21, 2008

mala noche

The little girl, maybe nine years old, at the tapas joint/restaurant/cerveseria yesterday was going to have a good night, like the rest of us gathering for Barca's Copa del Rey match against Valencia. She wore her blue Barca away kit and sat up front next to her dad, or on the lap of her mother, who stopped in briefly. She knew everyone in the restaurant, including the staff, who doted on her, kissing her and supplying her with bottles of Fanta with the straw sticking out the top. When Valencia scored the first of what would be three goals, she tore off the jersey and shouted at her squad. The two old women next to us flung their napkins down in disgust and stormed out. Valencia's second goal, in the final moments of the first half, had the slow-mo, I-can't-believe-this-is-happening quality of a nightmare. Anger and commiseration at watching your team go down like this has a common language of its own and we all cried out and shook our heads at one another. It was too much for the youngest fan present, who leapt up, lip trembling and eyes brimming with tears, and raced into the square outside. Her dad went out to try comforting her and bringing her back, but to no avail. We last saw them trudging up the narrow Barcoleneta street towards home.

I'm normally idiotically optimistic during soccer games but given Barca's performances of late I wasn't holding out a lot of hope for them to come roaring back in the second half. Our goal celebration for Henry was short-lived as Valencia's devastating response came only seconds later. We exchanged wordless sympathies with the old man behind us who got up and began pacing around the bar, unable to sit still for the remainder of the match. Hope surged back with the late Eto'o goal in the 80th minute, and Valencia began to show signs of wear. Yet it was all to no avail, and in the end Barca went down with scarcely a whimper.

Barca's won only a single match--the Champions League leg against Celtic--since we arrived in the city, and that at the expense of Leo Messi for the rest of the season. Now, it seems, they're on track to lose the season along with the Copa del Rey loss, and what will become of them in the Champion's League is anyone's guess. It seemed the night couldn't get any worse, but then Derek reached for his wallet and discovered that Barca wasn't the only thing around getting its pocket picked. Down one Copa del Rey championship, one fifty-euro note, and one debit card: the costliest football loss we've endured. Mala noche, indeed.

Nic's been writing some good stuff lately about the team's struggles of late and here's his match report from this game.


Georgina Best said...

That little girl has got the bug young. No hope for her now.
Losing is miserable. As I write my team Leicester City are 1 -0 down.
It's a hard life being a football fan

Lynda said...

Oh you poor thing! I see your Leicester City went down 0-2. It is a hard life indeed, constantly dogged by disappointment and sorrow and careening ups-and-downs.

That poor kid, man. I kept imagining she cried herself to sleep!