In which FC Barcelona gets pilloried:
Barca don’t allow anyone else to play that’s why watching them is boring. Footie is supposed to be a 2-sided affair. The only time I enjoy watching Barca match is when they play Madrid, Chelsea or JM’s Inter cos those are the only teams who make the match a 2-sided affair. Watching Xavi make 800 passes a game makes me dizzy. They should give the opposition a chance to attack them and then Ill start watching Barca matches.
Holy Mackerel! Who could have imagined that FCBarcelona had so many completely-consumed, violently-spiteful, and viscerally-hateful detractors all over the place! I am tempted to opine, as many did, that the only way it is possible to harbor such powerful feelings of hatred for Barca’s style of play, or of their unquestionable position at the pinnacle of world soccer, is if you are completely new to football or worse, opposed to the concept of Joga Bonito; or maybe it is possible only if you are one of the blinkered and reliably prejudiced fans of their eternal rivals Real Madrid. But I assure you that such people in fact really do exist—wandering all over the place brimming with nothing but antipathy for the current best team on the planet!
What are the reasons for the rage evident in the enemies of Los Cules? What consumes them with such habitual and visceral dislike for a team that has demonstrated their dominance in such superlative fashion? Should not one at least grudgingly admire their excellence even if one does in fact cheer for their opposition?
Indeed, I now begin to appreciate the reason why some people may be moved to hate Barcelona’s style of play. It is their stranglehold on the ball. Even against big name teams they have this uncanny ability to dominate possession; sometimes recording as high as 60-66% of the total football possession. As someone once said to me, “this team will pass you to death”. And true indeed is that sentiment. Barca relies on tapping the ball around, spreading it all over the field and gradually breaking down defensive formations. It is not as though their players are not gifted with individual skills, or that these players are not capable of holding on to the ball for much longer, the simple truth is that to blend into Barca’s excellent all-round team play, their players have learnt to play as one single cohesive unit. That means short and accurate passes, diagonal crosses, incisive positioning and the patience to wear a team down with such methodical and graceful possession until the defence weakens or fumbles. When that happens, you’ll behold the magnificence of Barca’s individual players as they produce spectacular world-class goals.
No wonder the fans of their opposing teams may be motivated to such fruitless anger. It is certainly no fun watching your favorite team run around for the ball in vain. I am sure it must really annoy people to see their players work so hard to get the ball and get dispossessed moments later, only for Barca to continue their famous tiki-taka. It is at times like this that opposition teams turn into rugby players and take fouls to an absurd new level. I am reminded of Real Madrid under Mourinho who often imagine themselves wrestlers of some sort whenever they are confronted with Barcelona’s frustrating ball possession.
Not only is FCBarca great at dominating the ball possession, they have world-class playmakers. They may not be the tallest or sturdiest looking players; as a matter of fact they may not even carry themselves like superlative talent. But what they lose in physical stature and presence they more than make up for in creative play. If I were to start analyzing the individual talent of each member of the Barca first 15, this post will become unnecessarily long but I’ll focus on a few players for emphasis.
Take Andres Iniesta for example. Unless you are completely new to football, and thus cannot be trusted to tell what amazing talent is, there is simply no way for you to have watched Iniesta over the course of two or three seasons and not come away impressed by the talent he brings to the field. He has an amazing ability of winning the ball in dead-ball situations; sometimes emerging with the ball after being ambushed by 2 or 3 opposing players. It is as if he is some kind of magician that temporarily blinds the people that come to dispossess him of the ball. I still cannot understand how he manages to retain the ball or how he still manages to complete a pass when he is surrounded or trapped by opposing players. Secondly, the man appears tireless. He’ll keep threading passes and making amazing runs down any flank all day long. His chemistry with Xavi is undeniable and rock-solid. It is therefore not surprising that people might hate a team where at least one of her players seems to be wearing an invisibility cloak, making incisive passes all day and the occasional attempts at goal. With Iniesta on the field, it must seem to opponents as though Barca has 12 men on the field.
Then what shall we say about the “Lord of the Midfield” Xavi Hernandez? He is one of my most cherished players of all time. I like his simple humility and his work ethic. Xavi makes everyone on his side, especially his side’s forwards look better. I simply lack the words to describe his greatness. Xavi has an unequalled reading of the midfield, and a dominating presence on it. He sits at the center of the field and makes the plays, the passes, and the distribution that allow other Barcelona players to excel. It is almost impossible to dispossess him of the ball; and to add to his creative distribution, he can effortlessly dribble anyone that dares come to rob him of the ball and just as immediately send a diagonal cross that will produce a goal. The man seemingly has eyes all over his body. With him controlling the midfield and methodically breaking the opponent’s defensive line, it is hard to see Barcelona losing. The best thing to do is to go and mark closely any player that you suspect would be on the receiving end of Xavi’s creative passes. Do not give an inch of space to Barca’s strikers for the very moment you run out of place to attack or stop an advancing Xavi (a futile venture since he almost never loses the ball anyway), you can trust Xavi to see that opening, that opportunity at that precise moment to connect a very deadly pass. When watching him, I just shudder at his amazing read on the game, and his unequalled ability to pick out a fellow team member who might be better positioned to score or make an impact and subsequently thread an accurate pass. He makes it all so easy—he makes everyone on his side extra lethal. And if you think that all he is good for is creating the plays that result in goals, you would be mistaken. For the records show that he is just as good at scoring goals if he finds himself near the goal.
Then of course, you have the undisputed revelation of football in these our times, the man called Leo Messi. Tomes have already been written in praise of him so I’ll try to keep this as brief as possible. Messi is what you should think about when you try to envision the all-round complete player. He is an absolute delight to watch. Anyone who pretends otherwise is merely being cheeky or is living in serious denial. The accolades continue to pour in to celebrate his passion for excellence as he keeps performing wonders on the field. He is already on his way to becoming the highest goalscorer that Barcelona has ever known—and he is only 24 years old!
Facing a team that is blessed with such amazing world-class players, it is understandable why some people would be annoyed at the jaw-dropping regularity (you might even say predictable monotony) of Barca’s consistent unrivalled performance.
Therefore I do not think it is a valid argument, like the sore loser Jose Mourinho is wont to make, that Barcelona’s success as a team is only possible because Barcelona has the privilege of being the special darling of UEFA. It is a remark borne out of nothing but envy and pettiness. If it appears that people all over the world love Barcelona, it is simply a reflection of Barca’s commitment to excellence. Even with debilitating injuries, the Catalan giants under the able tutelage of Pepe Guardiola, have continued to justify the faith and confidence reposed in them.
Eventually all good things must come to an end; yes eventually a time will come when Barca ceases to be the number 1 team in the world, but unfortunately for Barca’s haters, that time is not now. Sitting comfortably at the top of the Spanish League with 14 points, with the most goals to date in this season, and also sailing smoothly in the Champions league matches, Barcelona is going to continue to redefine the limits of excellence in this our times. Truly they are the team to beat even if jealous rivals or pessimistic naysayers continue to verbally diminish the impact that Barca has made or accuse them of whatever their flights of fancy can conceive. True lovers of football can cheer for their own teams even as they recognize the wondrous phenomenon that is Barca football in these our times.
ALL hail the glory of FC Barcelona; long may we reign!
What kind of season is FC Barca going to have with this new season? As a committed and passionate Barca fan, I find myself thinking about this a lot lately. You may be wondering why I would be worried or concerned about this judging by Barca’s superlative performance over the past 3 seasons. And of course, your musings would be justified. But, I have a sneaking suspicion that the journey for titles and trophies will be much harder for Barca this time around.
Let me start with their lack-luster preseason games. Based on their success last season, you might expect that the La Liga and Champions League victors would easily dominate their preseason matches. Having partied and rested for these games, you would expect them to show mental and match fitness that testify to their current dominance in this sport. But that was far from what actually obtained. Is it that the players are already burned out? Or could it be that having won 14 titles in three years, they now feel like they’ve done it all and so they now lack the fire-in-the-belly required to hunt for more trophies?
I know that the common retort would be to say that Barca was not really serious with these preseason games. Or that since many of our star players were away on international assignments or injured, we should be content with a result that wasn’t too dismal. But I have a different conviction on the matter. Please indulge me a little.
The preseason games would have provided an excellent avenue to assess the strength of the team overall so as to give valuable pointers on what positions in the Barca line-up needed to be reinforced. That would have helped determine what caliber of players to buy for what appears to be another grueling season. It seems to me that Barca appears slightly weakest in the back line/ defense line (I’m open to corrections by the way). Eric Abidal had an operation and is not yet at 100% capacity. Puyol was operated upon recently and is still recovering. Pique and Dani Alvez are also injured. No matter how great your attacking line is, or how dominant your midfield is, you cannot expect to win games against strong teams if you have an underperforming backline. For Barca, their backline troubles were already there for everyone to see since last season. No wonder Mascherano is often deployed at the back. This is why I expected Guardiola to have gone for defenders as a matter of urgent priority instead of acquiring Fabregas and Sanchez.
I have nothing against Cesc Fabregas first of all. Unless Xavi is retiring at the end of this year, I don’t see why we needed to secure Fabregas when we already had Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets, Thiago Alcantara and Seydou Keita. Why did they have to spend all that money to get someone when we are already fully fortified at the position he normally plays? The same thing worries me about the Chilean Alexis Sanchez. Do we not have able and competent strikers up front to take on the task of scoring goals? Of course we do. Once again, I assure you that I realize how great these players are, and what a blessing their addition to the team is. For example, Fabregas and Sanchez just proved their worth in this first league match by scoring goals. I simply feel like Barca is better served securing every aspect of that formidable line-up—for me that means making important fortifications at the back line. I suppose we shall see if these new signings keep up this great performance. If they do, they’ll more likely snatch the starting duties from Villa and Pedro.
Anyway, we’ve seen Barca win the Spanish Super Cup, the Gampa Cup, and the UEFA Super Cup—a very impressive start to another title-chasing season. Messi, recently crowned the world’s best footballer, seems to be showing no signs of fatigue or depreciation as he continues to provide inspirational plays right when it is needed. I want to believe that Guardiola also has a secret desire to bag a few more titles in order to comfortably establish himself as the best football manager ever on this planet. If his drive and ambition to utterly crush all coaching records (even those set by Johan Cruyff) is matched by the same zeal from his players, then my worries will be assuaged for that can only mean that the tradition of glorious and excellent football by the Catalan giants will continue in these historic times. Truly, at no time ever has the world of football experienced the awesome beauty and majesty of Guardiola-era Blaugrana boys. If they lose focus or have too many injuries then I fear that their potential notwithstanding, they may not win the titles and the glory that is to come.
The season has just started, and as expected, the top 2 teams in the Spanish La Liga have kicked off their fierce battle for supremacy. Real Madrid started their season’s campaign to dislodge Barcelona from the helm by trouncing Real Zaragoza 6-0. Barca replied the challenge by demolishing Villareal 5-0—and just like that these two teams are first and second on the table; another cold war has started. Barcelona may have begun with a bang, but the real question is will they end with a bang or a whimper? What weaknesses are we going to discover about Barca this year? What sort of season lies in stock for them?
Mes Que Un Club—we’ll be watching and cheering all the way.