What a great week it has been for FC Barcelona. It all started with the youngsters proving that the future is inconceivably bright, and ended with the current crop of superstars once again reaffirming their place at the forefront of the game. With Pep Guardiola in charge, this team truly appears to be invincible, unless the away game in question is at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez...
Starting with the "B" team’s win over BATE Borisov, it is clear to me that this project has not only worked, but will continue to do so for quite some time. Johan Cruyff was the architect; Guardiola claims that he is merely following the blueprints left behind. Whatever is happening behind the scenes clearly works and it must be said that the footballing Gods are clearly happy with their work.
Jose Mourinho – perennial excuse-maker – has proclaimed that the victory last night was down to luck, and while I understand where he is coming from, he could not be further from the truth. It all starts at a young age, where the Barcelona hopefuls are trained to pass and move, pass and move, whatever the result. As far as I am aware, they lose in the "early years" as the other clubs take place an emphasis on athleticism over technical ability, but as the years go by, the results get better, and by the time they reach the first team, each player is as good as the next at the basics.
These basics are keeping possession, remaining patient in the face of adversity, before striking when the opposition tires. It is an almost animalistic trait, almost certainly the actions of a predator looking to finish off its pray, and it translates beautifully onto the football pitch. BATE Borisov will testify this very fact. Despite the plethora of changes, they were run into the ground by the Barcelona, just as it would have been against the first team.
Sergi Roberto had a great game, passing the opposition almost to death, and even though he missed a fairly easy chance, he came back stronger and finished with some style to give Barcelona the lead. From there on in, it was just a case of the Blaugrana displaying their "mean streak" and adding to the Belarusian’s misery with three further goals, including a sensational backheeled finish for Pedro’s first and Barcelona’s third. It was almost Harlem Globetrotter-esque, but it wasn’t for effect. The backheel was the only way Pedro could score, so it was a case of needs must for the Spaniard.
It held us in good stead going into El Clasico, and we covered the build-up at quite a frantic pace, with interviews (another thanks to Graham Hunter) and tactical analyses sandwiched between keys to victory and almost psychic articles on David Villa being dropped, and Andres Iniesta as a man of the match contender! Jose Mourinho could have merely read our blog to find out that he had no chance!!!!! ;)
Joking aside, all the talk was for nothing. We knew how Barcelona were going to play right from the get go, and if you would have asked me two years previous to kickoff, the answer was always going to be the same: an emphasis on possession, both as an offensive and defensive weapon, with patience being the key. Low and behold, it held true yet again.
Even when Madrid took the lead, the focus was the same. Patience was key, passing and moving was paramount. Some teams may have thrown the gameplan out the window, attempting to rebuild on the fly, but Guardiola merely shifted a few players around the pitch, and hey presto! The game finished 3-1. The second goal was fortuitous; the result was nothing of the sort.
Yet Mourinho blamed luck? Was it by luck that Guardiola has avoided defeat in 90 minutes to any Real Madrid side? Perhaps there was a hint of fortune that Barca dominated possession, and had more shots on target? The result was not lucky, but merely the continuation of a legacy that gets stronger by the day, all thanks to the singular ethos and team mentality.
Now Mourinho now has to rebuild a team that must have taken a huge confidence hit, and at times looked too reliant on the counter-attack. For all the cacophony, Madrid may not be top at the end of the year; it all depends on the result against Sevilla next week. I for one would not bet against Los Blancos, but it’s just a friendly reminder that nothing is for granted in La Liga. Just imagine if Sevilla could give us all the greatest Christmas present...
Just to take a little break from the Barcelona news (lower your pitchforks), I would love to take a little of your time to talk about the blog. With yesterday’s figures, we passed 1,000,000 all-time visits and I would like to thank you, the readers, for your continued support. When I was approached about joining this site, I never really grasped what exactly I was letting myself in for. In fact, even now, I struggle to comprehend exactly how I got into this role, but it doesn’t stop me from enjoying every minute, thanks to the fine group of writers we have here, and the community we have created on these very pages. Here’s to the next million visits!