Cold weather greeted us at the entrance of the RCDE Stadium on Tuesday (27th February) night. Tthe lowest temperature was three degrees Celsius and there was a splatter of rain. Fans went through quickly to get into the stadium through the gates but even the cold weather was not able to stem the enthusiasm with which we watched the LaLiga match between Espanyol and Real Madrid.
The prize was to watch a LaLiga game directly in Spain along with a friend/partner.
Espanyol opened its door wide for us. The cold weather turned into warmth as we stepped into the stadium. There are a number of rules that remain to be obeyed, such as the prohibition of carrying plastic bottles into stadiums or certain areas that can not be entered.
However, the LaLiga Experience tour group was ushered across spaces that no one could access.
One of them is board meeting room where important decisions are taken, such as recruiting players. Espanyol's marketing director, Antoni Alegre Puzo, took the time to greet the group.
Then, while waiting for the kick-off, we were invited to enter the VIP Area. Each LaLiga Experience tour participant received a plaque from the club's Spanish legend Raul Tamudo. This was a pleasant surprise after the day before on the stadium tour, the participants got a jersey of Espanyol.
At halftime, we were again invited to enjoy a snack in a special area. The place is in the northeast corner of the stadium with translucent glass overlooking the field.
The highlight of the entire LaLiga Experience series was the game itself. The Espanyol-Madrid match seemed boring and looked to end as a goalless draw. However, Gerard Moreno dramatically scored in the third minute of injury time. The team with the strongest determination on the night successfully picked the positive result.
The dramatic goal erased the disappointment of some participants as Madrid did not feature star players like Cristiano Ronaldo (who was rested), Toni Kroos, Casemiro, and Luka Modric (each injured). Almost all participants agreed, the game between Espanyol and Real Madrid to be the most memorable moment during the LaLiga Experience activities that lasted three days.
"For me, it was the most memorable game. I was disappointed because Ronaldo did not play, but being able to watch and celebrate that dramatic goal was incredible," said Agung Siregar, a university student from Malang.
"Although the stadium is not fully loaded, it's fun to feel the atmosphere of a real match, and in Singapore, it's not something we can get and we can hear the chants and passion from the fans," said Jeremy Chiang, who also had a career as a professional footballer in his country.
LaLiga Experience is a program launched by the Spanish Premier Division to give fans a chance to feel what the atmosphere of a world's top competition is like.
LaLiga uses the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS) study that says, since 2010 La Liga is the best competition in the world, to state its point. Utilizing a network spread across the globe, La Liga invites fans, customers, and journalists to visit their stadiums, facilities and browse the cities. Of course, the peak activity is during a game.
LaLiga Experience is in its third edition and its main mission is to increase the league's popularity among the fans.
By bringing fans to Spain, La Liga reaches beyond the reach of televised or Over-the-Top (OTT) multimedia services. Each time the participants post on their own social media using the #LaLigaSantanderExperience tagline, at that time engagement towards La Liga increases organically. They let fans engage and talk about their experiences while in Spain using those hashtags.
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