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“In London, if you were to ask five people who they support, you might get five different teams as your answer. Not the case here, as nearly everyone supports Barça! You feel as if the whole city unites as a group to get behind those 11 players, whereas in London it’s more about bragging rights over your rival team!”
Idris Hagos has been a Chelsea die-hard all his life, but five months ago moved to Barcelona as an online marketing intern.
But he’s not the only resident of the city who has brought his love of the Blues to the Catalan capital. And we thought we’d catch up with a few them to get their views ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League clash at the Camp Nou.
John Stoker has been in the city for 20 years, and is well-known in the English speaking community simply as ‘Chelsea John’. Living in the land of Messi has not caused any shift in his allegiance. “Most definitely not!” he insists. “Barcelona is a great place to live. But my club always has been and always will be Chelsea … Onwards and Forever Upwards!”
He’s proud to add that despite being born in Catalonia, his two daughters, Anna (13) and Gabriela (11), have both been brought up as Chelsea fans too!
The same goes for John Dineen from Cork, Ireland, who owns a restaurant beside the Sagrada Familia. “I regularly go to Barça matches” he says. “But I will have no mixed feelings on Wednesday. I’m 100% Chelsea. I love the build-up to these games because everyone knows who I support.”
Another lifelong Chelsea fan is Callum Hosier, a student on the FC Barcelona Masters in Football Business, who tells us that “I love what Barça have done for football, the ethos of the club and the style of play but I am a blue at heart.”
Memories good and bad
None of our respondents had any doubts about picking their most painful memory of previous games with Barça. Stamford Bridge. 2009. Last minute. Andrés Iniesta.
But despite muttering something about refereeing decisions that day, John Dineen concedes that “I still love Iniesta. He’s my favourite Barça player.”
So what about the happier moments? There seem to have been several.
“Has to be Ramires’ lob in 2012 to get us back in the tie after we looked down and out” says Callum.
“2012 semi-final. Fernando Torres in the Camp Nou. Get in there!” sparks up John Stoker with a smile.
“Terry’s winner in 2005 at the Bridge and Lampard’s genius lob over Valdes in 2006” remembers Idris.
All eyes on Wednesday
And so what about this latest episode in the saga? Following the 1-1 draw in London, what kind of expectations do our Chelsea supporters have for Wednesday?
“I was pleasantly surprised by Chelsea and felt that on another day we could have won quite comfortably” reckons Idris. “But one mistake is enough to get punished by the best team in the world.”
“Conte got his tactics spot on” adds Callum. “But one lapse in concentration against a side with the quality of Iniesta and Messi and you will get punished.”
“I felt sorry for Christiansen” pines John Dineen. “One little mistake! And it kills me Messi finally scoring against us!”
“We’ll need a flawless game at the Camp Nou to qualify” concludes Idris. “It will be a lot harder to contain Barça on their home ground for a whole game.”
There’s certainly an air that the first leg was a wasted opportunity for Chelsea. But also a strong belief that this tie is still very much up for the taking.
“Chelsea will win in extra-time!” chimes a confident Mr Stoker.
We’ll see about that on Wednesday!
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