Sunday, November 16, 2014

16 November 2003 - Barça Enters The Dragon

On 16 November 2003, Porto defeated Barcelona, 2-0, in a friendly held to inaugurate Porto's new stadium, Estádio do Dragão.

Boasting a capacity of 50,399 and built at a cost of €98 million, the stadium was designed by architect Manuel Salgado as intended as one of the venues for the 2004 UEFA European Championship. The name Dragão, which is also a nickname for the club, refers to the dragon on Porto's crest.

Barcelona were accommodating visitors for the opening match, conceding goals to Porto strikers Vanderlei Silva and Hugo Almeida. The match remains notable for the Catalan club, however, as the first-team debut for 16-year old winger Lionel Messi.

Unfortunately for Porto, problems with the pitch prevented them from moving into the new stadium full-time until February 2004. Nevertheless, the new venue proved good luck for Porto, who went on that season to claim their 20th league title and their second Champions League trophy.

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