Where do the Barça players train and how can you see them? This is one of the most popular questions from fans who come to the capital of Catalonia. I have prepared this short guide and I hope you will find it useful in the future when the pandemic is over and you can travel freely.
New Year’s training
Currently, there is only one way to see personally any FC Barcelona training live and this is the training that is traditionally taking place right after the New Year around January 6th. In 2021 it was, of course, impossible for pandemic reasons, but a year ago I was able to see it. The coronavirus didn’t come to Spain until February so there were no obstacles for the club to organize it back then.
The training itself consisted of three parts: a short run, the famous rondo which in England is known as “square” (regardless of the configuration, Messi was never inside), and a shooting training.
The whole event was more like a picnic for fans, especially the youngest ones. There was an MC who ran the whole event, there were songs, photos, etc. The fans also got Barça flags. The intensity of training was also not at the highest level, it was felt that it was more of a New Year’s start than the actual work. At the end the footballers kicked some balls into the stands as gifts for some lucky culers. Unfortunately, there was no option to take pictures with them, but I must admit that it is rare to have them so close, literally at your fingertips.
The open training took place on January 5, 2020 and was announced much earlier, so anyone who wanted could actually plan it on their calendar. The tickets cost a few euros and they had disappeared from the website very quickly, but as it turned out, they could also be bought on the spot and the stands weren’t even full. Every ticket had a specific seat assigned to it, but in fact, everyone could move freely around the stadium, because it’s not Camp Nou. The players hardly ever train in the main stadium, last year such a thing happened only once.
Location and access
New Year’s training took place at Estadi Johan Cruyff, a smaller stadium where Barça B and Femeni play their matches. It is a stadium that replaced Mini Estadi and has only 6,000 seats, but it is enough.
IMPORTANT! The stadium is not in Barcelona but in the adjacent town of Sant Joan Despi. As I mentioned before, the players don’t train at Camp Nou.
In terms of getting to Ciutat Esportiva, there are several options:
? I recommend the R1 train towards Molins de Rei or the R4 towards Sant Vicenç de Calders. You ride on a normal ticket in the first zone, and you can get on, for example, at the Arc de Triomf, Plaça Catalunya, or Sants station, so from almost every part of Barcelona.
? From around Camp Nou / Av. Diagonal you can also take the T3 tram or bus like L50 / L62.
Whatever your choice is, you will have to walk about 10 minutes from the station.
? By car it is approx. 20-30 minutes depending on where you are in Barcelona. A taxi will cost around 20-30 EUR, just like from the airport.
How to score a photo with a Barça player?
If you have time, strong will, and above all, patience, you can try to catch one of the players before or after the training. Nowadays they take place nearly every day, now usually around 11:00 am. The players must arrive at Ciutat approx. 60-90 minutes before the scheduled time and usually start leaving the center two hours after training.
You will always meet a large crowd at the gate of the resort (where the Aldi market is) at this time, but I do not recommend waiting there. Due to a large number of people, footballers relatively rarely stop there after training, and practically never when they are in a hurry. Plus, a large number of people means that even if someone stops, it can be physically hard to reach them. Unless you want to wrestle with teenagers, I recommend you try another secret place at the roundabout near Ciutat.
This is where footballers are often stopped by the lights, so it’s easier to catch the desired selfies. Frenkie, Busquets, Dest, Trincao, Umtiti, and, above all the most important one, Leo Messi, drive-by. And, importantly, they don’t usually run on red like Dembele?
Of course, a lot depends on luck, because rarely any of the players make a special stop, the only exception here is Martin Braithwaite, who often stands patiently at the side of the road for even a few minutes and is generally the most approachable player for fans.
Trainings under Rijkaard and Guardiola
What was it like in the past? On this matter, I talked for a while with Michał Zawada from Penya Varsovia, who attended several training sessions during the times of Rijkaard and Guardiola.
Under Rijkaard, the training sessions were still held at Camp Nou, on the north side near Accés 1 and the former La Masia pitch, where there is a car park now. It was possible to view them practically freely through the net, and only when the work on tactical issues started the security asked you out of the stadium.
The training sessions back then were quite short and very intense, lots of rondos and shooting training with a moving ball. Interestingly, Rijkaard himself often took part in the games and he also did not give up. Michał recalls that he once brutally tackled Thiago Motta with a slide for the fact that he had netted him in an earlier action.
Under Guardiola, smaller and larger rondos became the basis of training. He emphasized specific situations, e.g., attack or defense in advantages, everything ended with shots. Pep also put emphasis on short and long passing, which we also often saw in pre-match warm-ups.
Guardiola was also the one who decided to close the training for spectators and the media, so the best team in the history of football could only be seen at the open training sessions held every few months.
Currently, as I mentioned, it is only possible once a year and that surely won’t change anytime soon.
It cannot be denied that the distance between Barça’s stars and ordinary people is increasing. Even 10 years ago, while watching the Barça B game, you could exchange a few words with Luis Enrique, or take a photo with Messi just as our friend Arek has. Almost impossible now.
To sum up, I will say that the challenge may be bigger now, but the satisfaction from scoring a selfie with one of the stars is more immense, too! I hope my article will help you, and if so don’t forget to tag #9CAMPNOU on social media. Good luck!
PS No, I don’t have a photo with Messi yet. But maybe I’ll be lucky someday. If I ever will surely you’ll find it on my Instagram, go follow!