Jumping into a training session with the Barça anthem, at the Camp Nou and with an audience in the stands is special for the players. Being able to see up close, from a privileged place, from the front line, a work session of your idols is a gift for fans of culés that happens very rarely. The two illusions could be fulfilled this first Monday of 2023 in the traditional Christmas cocktail that is the open house.
If Xavi's Barcelona has something, it is that it has the support of its people. It happens in every official match, where the stadium is practically full (more than 88,000 people on December 31 in the derby). And it happened again this early Epiphany morning where 15,324 followers came to the Barcelona Coliseum, almost two thousand more than last year. There was a grand entrance in the Grandstand and also in the first tier on the side, full of homemade banners and flags.
The players also help to grow the emotion. Five of the most important, and who like and connect with the young fans, such as De Jong, Lewandowski, Pedri, Gavi and Ansu Fati were together in the same round, which delighted the spectators. The Polish forward, author of 18 goals, and the brain from the Canary Islands were touching their heads while their teammates who did not play in the derby played a game in reduced spaces.
"It seems to be a dream," said a child. "This is not seen every day," commented his companion, realizing the privilege. Although what everyone agreed on was his great wish for 2023. "Winning the League" is the wish that the kids ask of Barça.
The first thing the footballers did, headed by Busquets and Sergi Roberto, the first two captains (for both of them it could be the last time since both are out of contract), was to greet Noa and Jan through the Pol and Joyce robots, thanks to the Club Foundation Pediatric Wellness Program. This initiative was the beneficiary of all the proceeds from the open day, since the tickets were worth between three (for members) and six euros. The last thing they did before going into the locker room was give away balls and sign autographs.
In between, Gavi, recovered from the blow to his hip that forced him to retire in the derby, Eric Garcia, who did not play for a minute in the World Cup in Qatar, and Araújo, who received a medical discharge on Friday, exercised normally , which is great news for Xavi Hernández, who was closely monitoring their respective developments, ahead of Wednesday against Intercity in Alicante in the Copa del Rey, with a single-match tie.
"Being at home is important for us and it gives us morale for what comes now: the Cup, the visit to Atlético and the Super Cup," said Eric Garcia, remembering the demanding calendar that Barça has, with three or four games away from home. Camp Nou. “It is very nice to train like this. It is a plus of energy”, added Koundé.
After training, the players were distributed among eight Catalan hospitals, from Sant Joan de Déu to Parc Taulí in Sabadell, where they hand out gifts. The last time that Barcelona footballers visited patient children in hospital centers was in January 2020, before the coronavirus arrived.