Barcelona put troubles aside to honour the victims of Thursday’s attack

Lionel Messi Barcelona
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The Catalan club paid tribute to those who lost their lives in Thursday's terrorist attack on a sombre night at Camp Nou as many fans stayed at home


The mood among Barcelona fans was subdued on Thursday morning. Their team had been beaten 2-0 the previous night by Real Madrid and lost the Spanish Supercopa 5-1 on aggregate to their fierce rivals. All of a sudden, however, none of that really mattered.

The brutal terrorist attack on Barcelona's most famous street, La Rambla, left 15 people dead and many more injured on Thursday afternoon as a van ploughed into unsuspecting tourists in the city centre. The news rocked all of Catalunya and sent shockwaves around the world. And football did not seem all that important.

"Barcelona will wake up and will show again what a beautiful country it is, Catalunya and Spain," former Blaugrana boss Pep Guardiola said later. "I am sure the city and the country will stand up and move on."

And the Camp Nou played its part on Sunday night as La Liga kicked off again in low-key circumstances at Barca's famous home. Earlier in the day, Sunday's rivals Real Betis left a floral offering on La Rambla and the Andalusian club wrote on their official Twitter account: "We are all Barcelona."

Barcelona Betis graphic

Barca kicked off with that message on the front of their shirts, in Catalan: Tots som Barcelona. And on the back, instead of the individual names, every player turned out with their number and above, simply, Barcelona.

A beautiful minute of silence was observed before kick-off and, perhaps understandably, the atmosphere was somewhat sombre as the Camp Nou recorded an unusually low attendance of 56,480, with many supporters staying at home.

That could be for a number of reasons. A lot of Barca socis are probably still away on their August holidays, while recent poor performances including the Clasico loss, the departure of Neymar and the lack of new signings will have done little to help ticket sales over the past few days.

But even on La Rambla, the Canaletas fountain where Barca celebrate their titles has been converted into a shrine over the past days in tribute to the victims of the attack, and it is likely that many supporters simply were not in the mood.

Barcelona celebrate

Lionel Messi Barcelona

On the pitch, the match took a while to get going as well. It looked likely that Barcelona would win and they did, thanks to an own-goal by Tosca and a Sergi Roberto strike late in the first half. And it could have been more comfortable too, with Messi close on four separate occasions, hitting the woodwork twice.

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For the players, it will have been a relief to mark the occasion with a victory and also to return to winning ways after the two losses to Madrid - especially with Andres Iniesta, Gerard Pique and Luis Suarez all out.

Apart from those injuries, Barca have been hit with a crisis off the pitch amid unrest at boardroom level, criticism of the club's transfer activity, as well as their handling of the Neymar exit and also Messi's new contract, which still has not been signed despite an announcement in July.

However, none of that mattered on Sunday. The important thing was to come through this test, to move on and focus on football once again. Because sport is a welcome distraction for a lot of people and seeing Barca win will have made many smile again in the Catalan capital after the sorrow and stress in the wake of Thursday's attacks.