Just why do we watch professional sports? Is it about watching supremely talented players living out our wildest dreams? Is it about the sense of belonging involved in supporting a favourite team or is it simply about entertainment? Different people will have different reasons making highlights highly subjective – what appeals to one person may not necessarily appeal to another. For example, the favourite highlight of one Barcelona fan may be the infamous Manita victory over Real Madrid, but for another it may be Ronald Koeman’s free-kick in the 1992 European Cup final.
Highlights such as the ones mentioned above are universally enjoyed, but neither accurately portray the history of FC Barcelona – after all it would be silly to assume that the Blaugrana are perpetually successful, or that they are historically dominant in El Clasico. Instead, my favourite highlight is one that I feel sums up the club best, and in the game in question Barcelona did not even win. On the other hand, this was the moment above all else that showcased those four little words etched into the collar of each and every Barcelona shirt:
Més Que Un Club
Everything about the day felt like a celebration. Granted, it was raining, but nothing could dampen Barcelona spirits on a day like this. After all, the Catalans were just 90 minutes away from booking their place in the UEFA Champions League final for the second time in three seasons and wrong the rights of the previous year. With a 2-0 lead from the tense first leg, Barcelona were not only an hour and a half away from reaching the final, but they were also 90 minutes away from eliminating Real Madrid and their "new" coach, The Translator. Given the pain of that defeat to Internazionale in 2010, this was revenge, this was retribution; this was fate.
Barcelona were basically at full-strength for the match, and after a hesitant start they slipped into gear and began to lay siege to the Madrid goal. Iker Casillas was forced into making two decent saves by Lionel Messi, before David Villa also tested his international colleague. While Barcelona didn’t take the lead in the first 45 minutes, they were the better side and it wasn’t long before they broke the deadlock. Andres Iniesta slipped the ball through to Pedro, and two touches later, the ball was nestling in the back of the net. Marcelo did equalise for the visitors, but none of that really mattered heading into the final minutes. In fact, for a few short moments, sport took a backseat for what really mattered: a truly inspirational person making his return after illness.
Eric Abidal had been out for two months after surgery to remove a liver tumour, so when news filtered around the stadium that he was going to make his return, replacing Carles Puyol in the 90th minute, the whole place got to their feet and voiced their appreciation of not only a great footballer, but a spectacular human being. Turn your volume up and enjoy reliving the moment – with any luck, there will be another video like this by the end of next season.