Extraordinary security measures in place for an exceptional football match

Wednesday’s clásico between Barcelona and Madrid sees thousands of security staff and both teams traveling to stadium from same hotel

FC Barcelona's Camp Nou stadium (by REUTERS/Albert Gea)
FC Barcelona's Camp Nou stadium (by REUTERS/Albert Gea) / ACN

Cillian Shields | Barcelona

December 17, 2019 07:46 PM

On Wednesday night, 8 pm local time, Barcelona and Real Madrid will face off once more in the Camp Nou for the season’s first clásico. Always a fixture of huge intrigue, this year’s edition comes with another layer of tension on top of what is normal, as the pro-independence group Tsunami Democràtic are planning a secretive protest action in the immediate surroundings of the stadium. 

Little about this match is normal, starting not least with the kickoff date. This game was originally scheduled for October 26, but protests and security concerns in the city of Barcelona forced the match to be postponed

Political situation and tightened security

Extra security staff will be present for the game and its buildup, as the Catalan police have announced they will send 1,000 officers to keep tensions under control, while a further 2,000 private security forces will also be deployed. 

Meanwhile, Spain’s interior ministry is also sending extra riot police to the city for the day to protect city infrastructure, but according to police sources this is more to do with a reinforcement of personnel for the level 4 terrorism threat, rather than the clásico or the Tsunami Democràtic action. This terrorism alert is common for this time of year and the gathering of large crowds of people. 

Those in charge of maintaining order during the game and beforehand in the area of the stadium have concerns that there could be some sort of altercation, or that demonstrators will attempt to invade the pitch during the game. 

For their part, Tsunami Democràtic have repeatedly affirmed that it is not their intention to prevent the game from taking place. They prefer to use the game as a platform to spread their message of “Spain: Sit and Talk” - dialogue between the political authorities of Catalonia and Spain to resolve the current political crisis.

They originally requested to both FC Barcelona and Real Madrid that their banner be shown on the pitch and in the stands before the game, but despite Barcelona making a smaller counter offer, largely the clubs didn’t want to engage with the protest group. 

Exceptional arrival

Blaugrana players normally arrive at the stadium a couple of hours before kickoff in their own cars. However, in the interests of safety and guaranteeing the game will go ahead, this time the Barcelona team will be staying in the same hotel that the Real Madrid squad will be at, before both squads make their way to the ground in team buses at the same time. 

When asked in a press conference ahead of the encounter, Barça coach Ernesto Valverde joked that perhaps he and Los Blancos boss Zinedine Zidane may enjoy a coffee together if they bumped into one another in the hotel. 

The refereeing team will also be at the same hotel, situated just over half a kilometer away from the Camp Nou stadium. All parties will travel at the same time to the ground with a police cordon ensuring safe arrival. 

Top of the table clash

And then, after everything else, there will be a football match played between two of the biggest clubs in the world. Both teams go into the tie in very good form, having struggled to find rhythms in the earlier stages of the season. 

Barcelona and Real Madrid are separated at the top of the La Liga table only by goal difference, and both have recorded six victories and two stalemates in their last eight matches. 

Barça’s Leo Messi, fresh from picking up his 6th Ballon d'Or award, and Madrid’s Karim Benzema both sit at the top of the pichichi table, Spain’s top goalscorer’s list, with 12 strikes each. 

Whoever comes out on top from this match will have a big advantage in the standings, in what is shaping up to be one of the most competitive La Liga seasons in recent years.