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Radio Joe Zenzola


Messi, FC Barcelona, and the experiences in Germany and Spain

He [Messi] was close, real close. I couldn't see him yet, but I could feel him, as if the subway train was being sucked towards Camp Nou and the tracks were being pulled back into the city. Whatever was going to happen, it wasn't gonna be the way they call it back in Wisconsin.
No, I’m not talking about Colonel Kurtz; I’m talking about Lionel Messi – the greatest ‘football’ player on the face of the earth.
Waiting for the last two years, I never thought I would have another opportunity to see him play live again. Tomorrow (Sunday), I will return to Camp Nou, one of the biggest stadiums in the world, as FC Barcelona takes on Osasuna, the worst team in La Liga. Expecting a massacre on the field, I hope Messi comes through with a goal. It will complete this 18 day journey…
However, Messi apparently had an injury Thursday night in the second leg of the Copa del Rey against Malaga; he was substituted in the 82nd minute. The club claims that the injury is not serious, but Messi did not practice yesterday.
Great, that’s all I need. Come all this way to see the greatest football player of my lifetime, and he’s sitting on the bench?! Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that…
Messi’s speed, passing, accuracy, and scoring are extraordinary skills that most football players cannot mirror. The man has a true gift, and unlike so many other superstars, he lives a pretty humble and quiet life (or so we think). He’s a special player with a special talent. When he gets the ball, let him go to work. When he doesn’t have the ball, he’s in position to strike when the opportunity presents itself. His team is an outstanding supporting cast of talented individuals. They, too, are superstars in their own respect. In general, Barcelona’s starting eleven is a well oiled machine, with very few flaws. It is why they are champions on a consistent basis, not only in Spain, but around the world. They are more than just the Yankees and Lakers of the world…They are ‘mes que un club’.
It’s been a week since I’ve written a blog. Obviously so much has happened between now and then, so I’ll try to recap my time in Munich and Barcelona. The game is Sunday, and I’ll fly home the following day. Still cannot believe how fast this trip has gone by, yet I feel like I’ve been here for months. Honestly, though, I’m ready to come home.
In Munich, I can say ate very well. Anticipating outstanding German cuisine, I didn’t have one bad meal when I was there. Almost every dinner consisted of schnitzel (either pork or veal), and almost every lunch consisted of a schnitzel sandwich. Although I’m not the biggest potato salad fan, I surely ate a ton of it. I also had my fair share of sausage, including bratwurst, bockwurst, and weisswurst. I even had something that look like pink bread – it was German meatloaf; you would have never have guessed it, but it was outstanding. Ironically, I didn’t drink as much beer as I thought I would. When I did, it was a lot of Hofbrau and Hachor Pschorr.
As for the sites in Munich, I experienced the Dachau Concentration Camp, an absolute fascinating, but depressing tour. It still amazes me how human beings have the power and will to exterminate millions of innocent human beings. We cannot forget these horrors…
Taking a two hour train ride south into the mountains of Bavaria, I also took a tour of the Neuschwanstein castle. It was built in the late 1800s for the king of Bavaria. The castle is absolutely amazing on the inside; everything – furniture, art, and the rooms – was in perfect condition. And yes, it kind of looks like Hogwarts.
In addition, I got a tour of the Allianz Arena, the home of Bayern Munich. Considering how big it is, it has the same capacity as Lambeau field (70,000 people). Did you know the media is allowed to drink alcohol? Yep. The pressroom there is enormous; it’s like the size of an auditorium. Behind it is a little cafeteria with a bar. Too bad we don’t have that luxury back home.
I also saw a Bayern Munich game. That was, by far, the coldest game I’ve ever been too. Plus, fans are allowed to smoke in the stadium. This resulted in a lot of second-hand smoke for yours truly. You can check out the game summary in my previous blog.
Did I mention the air was clean? Although it snowed almost every day, I have never inhaled cleaner air in my life!
As for Barcelona, I was looking forward to the change in climate. All this week, it’s been in the mid 50s to low 60s; the sun has been out every single day. While it was still way too cold to swim, I did hang out by the beach today (nothing like looking out at the Mediterranean Sea). Our hotel has a nice rooftop overlooking the city. I’ve spent my afternoons getting a lot of reading in from up there.
We’ve done a lot of walking as well, making tours to the Montjuic Castle which overlooks the Mediterranean Sea as well as Barcelona. We did a tour of the buildings and parks designed by Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi. Scattered across the city, they’re very unique in shape, size, and color. One of his famous creations, a mammoth cathedral called La Sagrada Familia, began construction in the late 1800s. IT’S STILL BEING BUILT TODAY! If you see this church in person, you will be convinced why they’re still working on it.
And of course, we got a tour FC Barcelona’s stadium Camp Nou…
All in all, it’s been an outstanding trip. It might be my last ever trip to Europe, but I’ve enjoyed every second of it. The culture, the food, the sites, and the football have been out of this world.
Besides, January is the perfect time to come, since there’s football on TV almost every day. When I haven’t been touring the sites or eating, I’m watching football in one of the local bars. Between the Premier League, English FA Cup, La Liga, Copa del Rey, and the German Bundesliga, I have been more into the sport than ever. I wonder what I’ll watch tonight…
Again, can’t wait to see Messi and company pounce on a crappy Osasuna squad.
To close my European Chronicles, I’ll use the opposite of what Kurtz said in Apocalypse Now
The beauty…the beauty…

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Topics : Hospitality_RecreationSports
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Locations : BarcelonaBavariaMalagaMunichWisconsin
People : Antoni GaudiKurtzLionel Messi

01/26/2013 10:05AM
Messi, FC Barcelona, and the experiences in Germany and Spain
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