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This was the view of Camp Nou, the City of Barcelona, and beyond to the Mediterranean Sea just moments before kickoff of Sunday's El Clásico.

This was the view of Camp Nou, the City of Barcelona, and beyond to the Mediterranean Sea just moments before kickoff of Sunday's El Clásico. | SANTIAGO GARCÉS

The juxtaposition was striking.

Around five minutes before kickoff of Sunday night’s fifth and final El Clásico of the season, the Camp Nou—the cavernous concrete bowl that seconds earlier was boisterously anticipating the marquee match of the season—suddenly went silent.

“The light was very soft,” said photographer Santiago Garcés, who was hovering above the stadium on a helicopter when he snapped the picture.  “The City was a monochromatic gray and the mosaic was colorful.”

“It was beautiful.”

Inside Camp Nou, some 90,000 fans—several thousand had yet to take their seats—reached back and picked up a large poster card in one of three colors: cobalt blue, fire engine red, or sun glow yellow.

In a matter of moments, a pixeled swatch of a million colors melted away and transformed into an organized pattern of vertical blaugrana stripes. In yellow, Nike's Barça campaign slogan “LA PILOTA ENS FA MÉS” (Catalan for “THE BALL MAKES US MORE”) was spelled out on one side of the field, while the word “CAMPIONS” was displayed at each end of the stands.

On a normal game day, the loudspeakers would have blared out the music to the Barça Anthem. But an El Clásico is anything but normal and, on this day, the blaugrana hymn was sung a cappella.

Tens of thousands of smartphones snapped away and recorded video footage of the moment. Gaggles of professional photographers, who had set up camp at field level to get the best action shots during the game, captured wide-angle shots of the seating area.

But Garcés, who is perhaps most well known for his iconic image of Lionel Messi taken moments after FC Barcelona’s famous comeback against Paris Saint-Germain, was up in the sky, camera in hand, waiting for just the right moment.

“It’s not like when you are down on the field surrounded by all the other photographers,” said Garcés. Up in the chopper, he explained, “You’re all alone.”

“It’s a unique point of view.”

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