This is our post on Barcelona TheOffside. Click here to read the full post.
People like to talk about something on the rise. Or something in a fall. It’s the variable length plateau in-between the two phenomena that’s seldom anything but boring, and hence we can understand the hurry in expediting Barca’s supposed downfall by journalists and bloggers who were too eager not so long ago to declare this team as the greatest ever. One remembers the Ferrari era in F1 in the early 2000s. You win the big silver pot once – it is the triumph of the underdog, twice – it is bedazzling consistency, anything more than that is just being rude, predictable and boringly dominant, get out of here! There are talks of enforcing handicaps (Messi to hop on one leg! Xavi to play with an eye patch! Iniesta not allowed to walk through people anymore!) and magnification of flaws (the diving, cheating, racist scums!). Perceived positives quickly become negatives, and glorious passing and positioning becomes boring domination of possession. Rapidly fluctuating fortunes make for much better print than serene domination anyway.
Barca’s superior form will inevitably come to an end some day. But here are seven reasons why we feel that’s not going to happen this season. Or even the next.
1. The form this season so far: It’s been around a month and a half since the season started. Since then, Barca has won the Spanish Super Cup against Real Madrid played over two legs, European Super Cup against Porto and are in fact yet to lose a game. Oh, and did we mention they sit at the top in the League tables? In the 11 games played, they’ve scored 37 goals with four manitas. “What crisis”, we hear you ask, “Stop wasting my goddamn time!” Precisely.
2. They haven’t looked themselves this season: “That’s all fine” some others would say (we imagine with a dismissive wave of hand), “But they haven’t looked themselves so far. Something is wrong”. Yes? So they’ve achieved all these numbers above despite looking like pale shadows of their former selves? Ye Gods! That can only bode well for the future!
3. The excess of individual quality: No fan of Barca will ever be allowed to mention the word ‘crisis’ in relation to a team that contains the Football Messi-ah, ever-dependable Xavi, Magician Iniesta, Offside King Villa, Goal Machine Fabregas, Sturdy-As-Rock Puyol,
Crazy-As-Cuckoo…er…Pique and well, you get the gist. And we haven’t even mentioned Sanchez, Busquets, Abidal, Valdes, Mascherano and the rest. That’s too much of talent to muck things up, even if Sergio Batista were to be their tactics consultant. Okay, well, maybe not with other-worldly impediments, but that lineup is in general as failure resilient as it can get. Even when they are taking turns pretending to have hamstring injuries just so that Pep can try out more crazy line-ups without being locked up in a padded cell.
4. The Coach: Which brings us nicely to the next point. The all important coach. There is a reason why people talk in hushed whispers in his presence and refer to him as His Holiness The Pep. Can Pep do anything wrong? We’ll blaspheme and say sure, yes, we are told he has partly human origins and you know what they say about humans and erring. His 3-4-3 has come in for some questioning, or should we say 1-7-2, and some people resent his usage of Victor Valdes as False CB. Still if there is one person who we’d bet on to put off that inevitable downturn one year away at a time, it would have to be Pep Guardiola and his well documented psionic powers. Heck, he’s even bald like Professor X, you’d have to be blind not to recognize this, humans!
5. Pepsimissm: First there is Pep. Then there is Pepsimissm. And both are equally vital to the success of FC Barcelona. There is nothing like a daily dosage of doom & gloom predictions to keep the team from believing in it’s own invincibility.
6. Evolution: As someone whose name we can’t quite remember would say – when other teams are making rapid strides forward, to stay still is to go backwards. As the team rises to the challenge and constantly tries to improve its output, some aspects of it will work, some others will be mistakes that Pep and his band of super-efficient staff take back to the drawing board and rehash into better approaches. But to note is the fearlessness to experiment instead of just sticking to a known winning formula…as winning formulae won’t remain impenetrable forever, and preparedness is half the battle won.
7. The Ballon d’or Trio: Well okay, we know we already mentioned player talent in point 3. But we like making points in multiples of 7, so live with it. Plus if you have Messi, Xavi and Iniesta in your team, there is no harm in bragging about it at every given opportunity, preferably twice in every sentence. There is talent and then there’s the Ballon d’or Trio just like there is understanding and then there is telepathy. You stop one and at most you stop two, but still the third is capable of turning around games single-handedly, so there. Any time you feel assailed by doubts and your faith is in question, take a deep breath and look at this picture. And enjoy the rest of the international break.