By Eric Beard
Even as Barcelona went up 4-0 over Real Valladolid thanks to Lionel Messi’s 47th goal of the season, Barça manager Pep Guardiola was still up on the touchline urging his players to keep their composure. Most teams have twelve men at home, due to their fan support, however, Barcelona have thirteen because of their incredible gaffer. The idea of beautiful football is thoughtful, quick, exciting football, and this season Barcelona were able to make their philosophy a success in Spain once again. Though the Blaugrana faced the impossible task of measuring up to the expectations set upon them after winning a unprecedented six trophies in one year, the club continued to set the bar around the world for the beautiful game.
Inter Milan were able to defeat this Catalan dynasty in front of over 90,000 screaming supporters in the Nou Camp, and Pep will be the first one to praise this year’s best Serie A side. Barcelona’s play throughout the season has been so superb that some pundits have gone so far as to label this season a disappointment because they were “only” able to win Spain’s domestic title. Now, this is absurd. When you consider that Barcelona finished with the most points the club has ever had in a season, 99 in a mere 38 games, that, for me, says it all. Consistency, dominance, and unity sum up the season for Barça. That’s 17 more points than Inter had in their 38 Serie A matches, and 13 more than Chelsea had. But does this speak volumes about Barcelona’s class, or about the gap between Barça & Real and the rest of La Liga?
Well, to put things in perspective, the 9th place La Liga team, Atletico Madrid, won UEFA’s inaugural Europa League tournament, a truly grand achievement for any side in Europe. Barcelona have often been accused of being “obsessed” with defeating Real Madrid, however, I believe that the competition between both sides creates an ongoing challenge to evolve modern football. What is “beautiful” today? Well for most it is something close to the fleet-footed Messi, Pedro, and Bojan racing down the channels being directed by a masterful director that is Xavi. Not to mention their leadership in the back by Carlos Puyol and the rising superstar Gerard Pique. But this could all change. Rather, it WILL all change. Barcelona play attractive football, but as time goes on, they will continue to challenge themselves. And their brand of beautiful football will change. It won’t be destroyed, and it won’t lose its value in history, but with football constantly evolving, we are watching footballing legends create an evolved brand of football, which is all that the beautiful game could possibly hope for.
After all, it doesn’t take a philosopher to realize that even if you are on the right track, you will get run over if you just sit there. Just look at what is printed on Barcelona’s shirt celebrating their La Liga victory; “No penses en una temporada, penses en la Història.” (You don’t think in terms of a season, you think in terms of history.) Barcelona’s history is two-fold. It is obviously proud to represent the vibrant nation of Catalunya, but it is arguably even more proud to represent an example for what football is and has been throughout its vast history. Barcelona are happy to create a new ideology for the beautiful game. But today I congratulate everyone speaking Catalan on Las Ramblas; your side deserves this trophy.
What are your thoughts on Barca’s approach to the game?