FC Barcelona: A 21st Century Portrait

After watching Barcelona’s passing carousel against Arsenal last week, I sighed an enormous sigh of relief when they qualified for the Champions League quarter finals. For the idea of Barcelona not being crowned the best team of Europe doesn’t even bear thinking about. There is simply no team in the world that can play football in such a mesmerising fashion and their poetic style only serves to illustrate their regal superiority. Barcelona’s movement and anticipation of the ball is absolutely breathtaking and even their last gasp defending is beautifully poised.

While I have admired their brilliance for years, it was only after watching Barca in a deserted Spanish restaurant that I fully grasped their iconic power. When Messi scored his improvised opener against Arsenal it bore all the hallmarks of an era-defining side. Not so much the clinical passing or ingenious finishing but their goal celebration afterwards. Barcelona’s insatiable desire to win and hatred of losing is truly fanatical and they make my own team Manchester United appear workmanlike and ordinary.

As while family loyalties will always ensure I want United to win every game. Barca’s religious brilliance is so compelling it would be a miscarriage of justice if they don’t win the Champions League. However, football is a cruel game and the horrifying spectre of a compact tactical team like Real Madrid or Chelsea grinding out enough victories at the expense of Barcelona is a fate that has befallen many a great side.

Eric Cantona loved the famous Holland side of 1974 so much he wanted them to defeat his native France. Alas the magnificent Dutch side were unable to pass their way to World Cup glory thanks to a ruthless German team. And while the pioneers of total football are still fondly remembered as one of the greatest sides of all time, the lack of silverware is something that must haunt the Dutch.

Holland’s attacking flair of the 1970s inspired millions of fans across the globe and likewise the sublime brilliance of Xavi, Iniesta and Messi are going to be remembered for decades to come. Barcelona’s majestic flair offers no guarantee of success and the La Liga leaders could easily end the season with nothing. It would be a sporting tragedy but regardless of their trophy haul Barcelona are simply wonderful. The best team in the world whether they win it or not.

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5 thoughts on “FC Barcelona: A 21st Century Portrait

  1. Wonderful post! I agree that Barcelona not being crowned victors in Europe doesn’t bear thinking about when you watch their dazzling skill and brilliance. They’ve been wasteful in front of goal lately but hopefully they get back to good form after the international break. I would like to think that we, football fans, are very privileged to witness this side. They play such joyous football!

  2. Thanks for your kind words. I am a Manchester United fan but I find Barcelona breathtaking to watch and they make my team appear incredibly ordinary. I’ve been watching football for over 20 years and they are the best team I’ve ever seen and I am including international sides. They have almost evolved the game to another plateau in a way. They should win everything and be remembered for decades to come. But football is very harsh. I wouldn’t be surprised if arch rivals Real Madrid win the Champions League and La Liga double…

  3. You can say that again. Football is very harsh. Wrong referee calls. Rash judgment. Nerves. Name it. Anything and everything can go wrong. We’ve been racked with injuries lately so we’re really nervous going into the remaining games. RMad has more difficult games though and even if we lose to them, I doubt they’ll beat us by more than 5 so we hold an advantage head to head.

    Only started watching footie about 12yrs ago and Man U was also a favorite team (I come from a non-footballing country so I liked many teams/players who I thought played well). I loved Teddy Sheringham then and Giggs (til now). ButI really loved Barcelona because of Rivaldo and its Dutch contingent.

  4. And after watching this current Barcelona team – it’s now difficult for me to watch other teams play, especially the EPL ones. There, I feel as if the ball is kicked high to wherever, then players run towards where the ball will land and jostle and elbow and kick each other to get to it, then they lose it to opposing players who will repeat the same thing. But I never felt that before. So…this Barcelona team is ruining football for me in the sense that I can’t watch other teams with interest anymore. Ha ha.

  5. After the Barcelona vrs Arsenal game, I watched Man Utd play Arsenal at home at Old Trafford in an FA Cup tie and the game felt mediocre in comparison. Okay it was only a domestic cup tie but there something genuinely magical about that Champions League performance at the Nou Camp that electrified the sport to another level. Barcelona are the only magical team on the planet. The Premiership has been in decline this year and United have never really recovered from losing Ronaldo in 2008.

    What I found soul destroying was the 2008 Champions League Final, where getting caught up in all the hype. I honestly thought were were going to win and not knowing just how good Barcelona actually were, I watched in gaping silence when United were totally outclassed. This very rarely happens. But it was the most humbling and soul destroying game I’ve ever seen. Watching your favourite sons being completely out of their depth just does not happen. Well not unless your up against Barcelona.

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