After rain played spoilsport on the first day,Indian footballers had their first outdoor training session of the Spanish sojourn as they were put to the paces by chief coach Bob Houghton on the same pitch the European champions FC Barcelona players used this year.
Baichung Bhutia and Co. set foot on the ground just outside the Nou Camp,where the likes of Lionel Messi,Andres Iniesta,Samuel Eto’o and Xavi Hernandez had trained for hundreds of hours en-route to their La Liga title and Champions Trophy victory in Rome.
The brand new ground at Sports Center in the outskirts of Barcelona became Barca’s training pitch since February last year. La Masia,where a youth academy is located,was FC Barcelona’s training ground for 25 years before the club shifted base to the new venue.
Understandably,the Indian players were excited to start their serious preparation for the Nehru Cup under the shadow of the iconic Nou Camp.
“We had our first training session on the field outside the Nou Camp. It is a lovely surface by the side of the great stadium and we all enjoyed the session,” central defender Gouramangi Singh said from Barcelona.
“The facilities are more or less to what we got in Portugal. But I don’t want to compare the two because each has its own class. We are just trying our best to make the best out of it and looking forward to the coming days,” he added.
Goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharya was in awe of Nou Camp,the museum and the trophies FC Barcelona had won.
“We are very lucky to see the stadium (Nou Camp),the museum and the trophy Barca team won. It was a very good feeling,the things I use to see on TV I can see here. The training field is very good,much better than any in India,” said the Churchill Brothers goalkeeper.
Other than outdoor training and morning gym sessions,the players have enough time to get a hang of the city and shop. “These first days I’ve been walking and shopping,” Arindam said.
The Indian players will train in Barcelona for a month till August 6 and play four friendly games against local sides.
The first match is on July 25,most likely against Esportiva Castelldefels,a Tercera Division (fourth level in Spanish league structure after La Liga,second division A and B) side of Girona province of Catalonia region.