This year’s UEFA Champions League semi-finals saw two Spanish giants take on two German giants, as Real Madrid were drawn against Borussia Dortmund, and FC Barcelona took on last year’s beaten finalists, Bayern Munich.
Conveniently, the 1st and 2nd legs had been arranged so that both were in the same country, one night after the other. I was unable to make the 1st legs in Germany, but instead planned a trip to cover both return legs in Spain the following week.
Both home teams caused massive shocks in Germany, as Real fell to a 4-1 defeat, managing to salvage an away goal, whilst Barcelona slumped to a 4-0 loss at the hands of Bayern, who by this time were odds-on favourites to go all the way and win the trophy.
I felt no need to be pitchside for the start of the match in Madrid…although I’d secured a position, I wanted to take advantage of the fact there were no English teams involved, and instead see if I could find a vantage point to get a general view of a full stadium at the start of the match. I’d been told it was notoriously difficult to get up to take a picture from the top of the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, but nevertheless, I was determined to see what I could do. Fortunately, my efforts paid off and the picture proved to be worth it…
After an eventful night in the Bernabeu, I took the train to Barcelona the next day to see if Messi and co. could pull off the comeback of all comebacks. Most people would suggest you never write Barca off, no matter what challenge lies in front of them, but even the most optimistic of onlookers accepted this match was already out of reach for the Catalan side.
It seemed their coach did too, leaving 4-time World Player of the Year, Lionel Messi, on the bench as a substitute. If that wasn’t conceding defeat then what was?
As with the previous day, I used the opportunity I had to head up to the top of the stadium to find a vantage point for a wide view of a full Nou Camp before kick-off. It’s a shame the match couldn’t start 20 minutes later…as it was, the sky was still a bit bright and it wasn’t possible to balance it with the stadium floodlights. Nonetheless, it was a picture that I’ve never had the chance to take, so take the chance I did…