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Various members of the Penya Blaugrana d'Amsterdam

Members of the Penya Blaugrana d'Amsterdam. PHOTO: Rubén Saavedra

Ever since the days of Michels, Cruyff and Neeskens, there has been a close relationship between FC Barcelona and Ajax Amsterdam. Rubén Saavedra, the president of the Penya Blaugrana d'Amsterdam, claims that “most Dutch football fans (but especially Ajax supporters) have FC Barcelona as their second team. Obviously, the fact that so many Dutch players and managers have been at FC Barcelona plays a big role. However, the main reason for this big interest is the fact that there isn´t any other club in the world that plays football using the same philosophy … They feel very much attached to FC Barcelona because they play the football they like.”[[DES_1]]

Together at last

It therefore seems incredible that these two historic clubs had never met in an official competition. So there was obvious excitement when Barça and Ajax were paired together in this year’s Champions League group stage. “We are a young penya and since we became official, we have been following the draw with big expectations every year, hoping for an Ajax – Barça” explains Saavedra. “However, luck was not on our side, and Ajax got to play Real Madrid three years in a row! Therefore, you can imagine how we reacted when we saw that Barça was finally coming to Amsterdam for the first time ever!”

Peter Goedbloed, president of the Fan Club Barcelona de Rosmalen, adds that “on the day of the draw, we as a fan club received more than 200 emails requesting tickets. And believe me, that is a very, never seen, high number.”

You can imagine how we reacted when we saw that Barça was finally coming to Amsterdam for the first time ever!

Making plans

Neither of the two Dutch supporters clubs were able to travel to Barcelona for the first match, but have organized several activities around the one in Amsterdam. On Monday night, the members of the Penya Blaugrana d'Amsterdam are enjoying a dinner with representatives of FCB at the Taverna Barcelona, a Catalan restaurant where they typically gather to watch Barça matches and hold assemblies.

On Tuesday, Rubén Saavedra’s club have also organised a meeting point for all supporters travelling to Amsterdam, starting at 15.30 in Nieuwmarkt in the city centre and famous for its many bars and cafes. Rubén Saavedra explains that “the idea is to be there until 18.30 or 19.00 and then go together to the stadium … There is a direct Metro line from Nieuwmarkt to the Amsterdam Arena.” The metro stop for the stadium is Strandvliet, on line 54.

Enjoying Amsterdam

For those supporters wanting to see a bit of the city while they are there, Rubén says “I can recommend the typical touristic places, such as the Anne Frank House, Museumplein (with the Van Gogh museum and the Rijksmuseum among others), a walk around the Jordaan, and Dam Square and the famous Red Light District. Something a bit less touristic would be the Albert Cuijpmarkt (flea market) or Browerij 't ij; a windmill where they brew their own beers!”

And of course, fans that are still around on Wednesday should remember that Ajax are also entertaining Barça in the UEFA Youth League. That game kicks off at 19.00.

It is difficult to watch two teams you love when they play against each other ... emotions go back and forth

For any fans travelling to Amsterdam without tickets, but who just want to be there to soak up the atmosphere, the Penya Fan Club Barcelona are organising a screening of the match at Restaurant B-eat next to the stadium, starting at 17.00. The organiser, Peter Goedbloed, told us that “after visiting the rally in the Nieuwmarkt, all Barça fans are welcome at our venue."

Mixed feelings

Although Tuesday promises to be a wonderful day for Barça’s Amsterdam-based fans, at the same time it will be an unusual one. They may all be fervent supporters of the Catalan club, but at the same time, many of them also follow Ajax! As Peter told us, “it is difficult to watch two teams you love when they play against each other. Normally it is nice to ‘pick on the opponent’ during a match. At these games this is impossible to do, emotions go back and forth.”

Rubén adds that “some of the fans may have divided hearts, but since Barça is already qualified and Ajax need the points so urgently, most of the Dutch will be supporting Ajax … I am sure the atmosphere in the stadium will be fantastic! It’s a game between two good friends and I am sure we will see a nice match, with two teams trying to play their football.”

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