Camp Nou reopens amid political chaos in Catalonia
Madrid: For the first time since playing to an empty stadium in protest at a violent crackdown of an independence referendum in Catalonia, Barcelona's Camp Nou opens its doors when Olympiakos visit on Wednesday.
On the field, Barca should have little problem sweeping aside an Olympiakos side without a point in the Champions League so far this season to consolidate their position atop Group D.
However, how Barca's fans will react to a tumultuous few weeks of political tension in Catalonia is less predictable with the support split like the rest of society on wealthy northeastern region of Spain.
Chants in favour of independence are common at the Camp Nou from a section of the Barca fanbase, most notably in the 17th minute to mark the fall of Catalonia in the Spanish War of Succession in 1714. Barca have also been repeatedly fined by UEFA for fans flying the Catalan 'Estelada' flag, which has become a symbol of the independence movement within Catalonia, at Champions League matches. Leading Barca players such as Gerard Pique and Andres Iniesta called for politicians on both sides of the independence debate to negotiate in the wake of the October 1 referendum.
As Spanish riot police fired rubber bullets and seized ballot papers leaving 92 injured, among nearly 900 who sought medical attention that day, Barca beat Las Palmas 3-0 behind closed doors.
Club president Josep Maria Bartomeu insisted he tried to have the match abandoned, but instead settled for showing their opposition by playing the match in an empty 99,000 capacity Camp Nou.