UEFA Champions League: Opening the post-AC Milan debate

ahh, the good ol' times...

Overreaction, fickle and spoilt: It gives me no pleasure to say this, but those are the three words that describe Culés. I am just as guilty as everybody and over the last couple of games, I have come to realize that it is no longer enough that our team wins but we, the fans, demand a comprehensive victory.

Spoilt, because a draw is a draw, nothing more, and definitely, nothing less. As a team, the Blaugrana have shown time and again that they have one thing that many other teams in Europe lack. They posses the spirit it takes to be champions. In times like these, where the world is waiting to pounce on a team that is always (with the emphasis on ‘always’) expected to win, and ends up drawing two consecutive games, we, as fans of the club, have a responsibility of sorts.

                         

Look at it from a neutral point of view. Two consecutive draws, that’s what it is. We didn’t lose, but we didn’t win either.  Yes, we have gotten used to seeing them destroy teams (the historically big teams of Europe as well), and we are therefore not wrong to expect Barca to continue to repeat these feats but the Blaugrana still drew in two consecutive games. Yes, our defensive frailties were ruthlessly exposed but honestly, short of Sergio Busquets, transforming to the road runner on steroids, there wasn’t a chance in hell that he could have caught up with Alexandre Pato. The logic behind using Sergio Busquets and Javier Mascherano as centre backs, as opposed to the pairing of Javier Mascherano and Eric Abidal is questionable, I agree. Why didn’t Pep Guardiola opt to play Adriano as a left back, with the aforementioned players in the center, or even start Carles Puyol (despite his lack of match fitness). After all, like Arron Duckling (Senior Editor) mentioned in one of his comments, Milan weren’t expected to have too much width so wouldn’t it have been wiser to make sure Barca’s central defense was strong? On the other hand, isn’t it also possible that Pep had faith in his center backs ability to hold the line, since Milan were not going to attack too much?

Do you see what I’m trying to get at? One can only find fault in Pep’s unwarranted faith in Sergio Busquets as a defender (but that would be easy in hindsight right?). If the game had turned to be a win for Barca, not one of us would have given a damn about the defense.

Fact of the matter is, we as fans of this club are spoilt rotten. I won’t blame myself or any of you too much, but maybe, like the team, we too need to go back to the basics. This is not a wakeup call just for the team, but for us as well. We need to remember why we love this club and this team. Let’s go back to enjoying the game. Forget about the draws, every team falters and every team will be beaten and rest assured every cycle ends. This team could possibly be the greatest the world has ever seen. Twelve trophies in about three years is a success rate that will not be repeated any time in the near future, mark my words. Even if the cycle ends this year and the Catalan side don’t win any major trophies, Culés worldwide should remember what a great run it’s been.

On the other hand, the club and the team succeed because of the fans. How we react now, this moment, when everybody, besides fans of the Blaugrana,is just waiting to see the team fail so that they may finally tell every single one of us "HAH! How do you like them apples!" will define how this team does henceforth. Before you decide to give me a piece of your mind, allow me to say, I am not trying to tell you that you can’t question the team or the coach or even God (something I admit to doing, under the influence of some brew last night) for letting recent events happen. But what I am trying to say is - don’t panic. So the team drew two games, out of a possible sixty. It is going to be a very long season and a small part of me almost wants this team to lose. It will be the proverbial slap across the face that all of us need.

It says a lot about the Catalan side, when a big team like Milan didn’t play to win but hoped for a draw. Sure, luck was on their side and they got it. But don’t make the mistake of thinking they didn’t deserve it. How Pep and co. react from now on, is what really matters. Allow me to state a few facts (or what can be interpreted as facts), Barca have a coach who believes (strongly, I might add) that Alexis Sanchez and Cesc Fabregas were the most important requirements during the transfer window. Now who can prove him wrong? The team needed to have the luxury of losing a forward without having a crisis on their hands. With Ibrahim Afellay (someone I believe will make a huge impact henceforth), the Catalans have a solid substitute till Alexis is back. In Cesc Fabregas, the fans could not ask for a better player to take over from Andres Iniesta. In retrospect, Pep is a friggin’ genius and our only complaint is that the team doesn’t have enough support in the backline. That would basically mean the club had to spend more and buy a defender. How do we, considering our limited resources with respect to the details of the finances, logistics and requirements of the team, state with utmost certainity that Pep should have bought a defender instead of Fabregas? After all, that is the argument isn’t it? That Barca should have bought a defender instead of Fabregas (if you take into account the club’s finances).

With Carles Puyol back, Gerard Pique soon to return, and Eric Abidal and Javier Mascherano more than capable to deputize if required, the team has the necessary depth in defense (in my opinion). Sure, in a utopian world I would have loved to see Mats Hummels, Thiago Silva or even David Luiz in Barcelona, but that isn’t the case. What I’m trying to say is, let’s all go back to the basics and forget that this team has under performed recently, and just focus on enjoying the game. Have a little faith in Pep and the squad, God knows they deserve that from us. However, they are undeserving of the criticism they have received just because of two draws. Again, this is not my way of telling Culés worldwide that they need to chill out, just that they need to remember what really makes the difference between this all conquering FC Barcelona side and any other European team- the Spirit that all champions have.

Barca will be back, I won’t be presumptuous or arrogant (ever again) and predict a thrashing on Saturday but mark my words, Lionel Messi and co. are far from done and I, for one, don’t want to look like an idiot when in a few months time Pep Guardiola lifts his hand with four upturned fingers (domestic champions for the fourth consecutive season?)

More so than ever before,

Visca el Barca!!

 

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