Exactly 4,632 days had passed since the first time Cristiano Ronaldo turned up at the Camp Nou and found that there was an impish, little, Barca-coloured magician called Lionel Messi in the opposition ranks. A fly in his ointment.
That was Manchester United en route to winning the Champions League in 2008 — the first leg of the semifinal.
Unlike in December 2020, this old stadium was packed to the rafters back then, with 95,949 passionate fans, for the Camp Nou’s first Messi-Ronaldo instalment. Those were the days.
Just like in December 2020, however, Barcelona were in the mud. Knee-deep, in fact. They were out of the Copa del Rey and in the midst of a five-game winless run, 11 points behind the champions-elect Real Madrid and with a manager who was a veteran of that Dutch European Championship team in 1988.