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Defining an era of dominance: Why FC Barcelona need Cristiano Ronaldo and Jose Mourinho

Yep, that's where you belong Ronaldo, behind Lionel Messi. That's your place in football.
Yep, that's where you belong Ronaldo, behind Lionel Messi. That's your place in football.

Now, before you Culés out there find creative ways to fill the comment box with expletives directed at me, I would really appreciate it if you read the article first. Whether we, as fans of the Blaugrana, like to admit it or not, Cristiano Ronaldo and Jose Mourinho are important for the world to truly appreciate the Catalan side.

Before you Madristas (for a blog dedicated to Barca, there are quite a few Madrid fans who frequent our site) decide to find creative ways to express your hatred towards me and other Cules in general, rest assured this is not just a piece about how great the Catalans are. I really hope that you approach this piece with an open mind.

Although the following is extremely hard for me to say, let alone write (on a Barca blog, no less), we must admit that there really is something special about Ronaldo and Mourinho (unfortunately, something they will never let anybody forget).

To state that the Real Madrid forward is a great player is to state the obvious but it isn’t just that, he really is a marvelous player. Cristiano, in addition to his ‘wealth and good looks’, performs at an unbelievable level for Los Blancos, and has an uncanny ability to maintain his outrageous from, despite the lack of similar as talented teammates. However, in the end football is a team sport, but to watch one player truly lead his team to victories week after week, is nothing short of spectacular. Apart from his blatant arrogance and ambition (sometimes a virtue, sometimes not) to be the world’s best, Ronaldo must be judged purely by his athletic abilities. After all, that is the only aspect of his being that matters to any of us (nobody really cares what he has to say about German Internationals he’s never heard of, incompetent referees or Barack Obama’s presidency) and for him to give football fans (minus Cules) the opportunity to watch him sprint down the wings (with a generous inclusion of, sometimes unnecessary, stepovers) and score week in and week out, can only be seen as a blessing. The Portuguese international has earned his place alongside contemporary greats, whether we (Cules) like to admit it or not.

Unlike Lionel Messi, Ronaldo does not have the support of Xavi or Andres Iniesta and although, Mesut Ozil and Angel Di Maria are great players, they more often than not disappear on the big occasions (not unlike CR7 himself), which makes Ronaldo’s performances for the all whites that much more impressive. Now that I’m done praising Ronaldo and before Sebastian (our tyrannical but well-meaning Editor-in-Chief) decides to ban me from the site for defecting, allow me to say that Lionel Messi is the best player in the world, period (in my opinion and the majority of the football watching world would agree).

But there is a reason why Messi is being talked about in the same breath as Pele and Maradona, his performances in a Blaugrana shirt warrant comparisons to the greatest players ever, because he is the first to live up to the hype. Whereas others disappeared or crumbled under the tag of being the next Pele or Maradona (Robinho, Saviola, Riquelme etc), La Pulga eradicated any doubt that he’s truly one of a kind. At the tender age of 23 he has won everything on club level, scooped every individual award available and did both several times. Granted, Messi is part of the arguably greatest team in the sports history, but, he is the standout performer in a team of world-beaters. Take the Chicago Bulls in their heyday. They had Pippen, Rodman, Kerr etc. but Michael Jordan was the undisputed King, the best among the best. One only has to look at the inflated transfer market to arrive at the conclusion that everybody (and I really mean everybody), is claiming so and so player is the next Pele or the next Maradona. Players like Javier Pastore, Alexis Sanchez, Angel Di Maria and Sergio Aguero are extremely talented, but let’s be honest, one look at these players and we know there is a ceiling to their individual potential. Lionel Messi however, appears not to have one. In La Pulga, the world found a phenomenon that surpassed everyones expectations. But a small part of the reason for that is because Messi has a worthy adversary in Cristiano Ronaldo, one who can truly compete with him. Cristiano Ronaldo is to Lionel Messi, what Joe Frazier was to Mohammad Ali (since I’m writing the article, I really don’t care what you have to say on the matter but as far as I’m concerned Ali was the greatest of ALL TIME) and every one of you has to admit, Ali simply wouldn’t have been that great without Frazier (remember the ‘thriller in manila’?).

Cristiano Ronaldo Vs Lionel Messi 2010_2011- Who Is The Worlds Best

Some might say that Ronaldo is unlucky to rise to prominence in the same generation as Messi, but they could not be more wrong because it is a symbiotic relationship. The fact that the diminutive Argentine has a rival like Ronaldo, and that they are constantly being compared to each other, proves how great Messi truly is. In any other decade Ronaldo would have been the best player by a distance.

Although, I’m sure the Portuguese himself (and maybe even Messi) would disagree with everything I’ve just stated, when you really think about it, that is the essence of a sport. We, as fans of the beautiful game, would not be witnessing one of the greatest decades in the history of the sport, if either one of these players were missing. The El Clasico’s have become that much more exciting. Widely accepted as the greatest football rivalry there is - who among us could have dreamt that it could possibly get better?

But it didn’t stop there, did it? In recent times the Clasico has gotten even more intense. If Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo weren’t enough to spice things up, try adding a touch of eye-gouging, referee bashing genius to the mix and suddenly we have the most exciting match-up in any sport, anywhere in the world.

Don’t get me wrong, I hate Jose Mourinho. I truly despise the man. The world of football hasn’t seen such a brash, loud mouthed, provocateur in a long, long, long (to the power of ten) time. But I have to admit; one can’t help but feel a sort of, grudging respect towards the man. He has won it all and anybody who states otherwise or gives reasons to claim that he didn’t deserve the accolades is wrong. If it wasn’t impressive enough that he won the Champions League with FC Porto, the translator went on to defeat a Manchester United side, which included Cristiano Ronaldo, to win the premier league title. After conquering the English Premier League twice with Chelsea FC, Por Que went on to win the treble with Inter Milan, along the road to victory his team also defeated the Blaugrana (though the Italian side benefitted from bad refereeing. Ironic, isn’t it? Since Mourinho very openly suggests that Barca is the sole benefactors of human error) to lift the Champions League trophy once more. Even though Mourinho is continuously finding new ways to prove that he is, in fact, slightly paranoid and ill-mannered, how else can one really define the brilliance of Pep Guardiola?

Fact of the matter is, if Mourinho didn’t exist, Pep Guardiola and co. would have gone on to destroy teams in Europe for years. Sir Alex Ferguson, although tactically brilliant, does not have a good record against Barcelona and most neutral fans would agree that Manchester United did not have a chance against the current crop of Blaugrana. Jose Mourinho, similar to the Ronaldo-Messi rivalry, needed to join Real Madrid to be truly tested. Although his recent actions were worthy of a long ban (and you have to be crazy if you think otherwise), they show that Barcelona with Pep Guardiola at the helm, are really getting under his skin. This is the first time in his post-Porto managerial career where the infinitely deep pockets of his employers didn’t ensure immediate success on a grand scale (the Copa del Rey is neither, important nor prestigious). This is also, in my opinion, the first time that he has been outclassed (in every sense of the word) by any manager. Pep Guardiola desperately needed Mourinho, as an opponent, to prove that he is the epitome of the modern manager.

We are Culés and we will always hate everything that Real Madrid, Mourinho and Ronaldo stands for, but without a worthy opponent, FC Barcelona’s area of dominance would’ve been stained. This current Barca team would not be competing for ‘the best team ever’ tag if they didn’t have Mourinho and Ronaldo as rivals. For Lionel Messi and Pep Guardiola to be called the best player and manager in recent times, Mourinho and Ronaldo had to be the opponent. I will always question the tactics used by Madrid (under the Portuguese) to try and defeat Barca but if they can’t do it, then nobody can and that my friends is the hard truth.

Until the next time,

Long live Messi and Pep!

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