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.