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The Weekly Review: Week 35 │ Jealous Ones Still Envy FC Barcelona

I recognize your genius but you still owe me a decent center back and an explanation as to why Samuel Eto'o had to go in 2009!
I recognize your genius but you still owe me a decent center back and an explanation as to why Samuel Eto'o had to go in 2009!

As the headline indicates, I used to listen to a lot of Rap music in my teens, among those records that never left my system, Jealous Ones Envy by…Fat Joe. However, I seem to have outgrown Rap music, at least the nonsense that is played nowadays. But I reckon that Real Madrid duo Cristiano Ronaldo and Mesut Özil would make an awesome hip hop act, 2011’s Kris Kross. They obviously talk a good game. One of the headlines I stumbled upon "Mesut Özil eyes treble" – like we haven’t noticed. His eyes are literally popping out (pun intended). It’s all good Mesut…du altes Fischauge! Straight outta Frankfurt (hey, N.W.A’s Straight Outta Compton is a classic!) gib dir bös…und zweimal am Sonntag. Aber was soll’s, du sprichst ohnehin kaum Deutsch. The statistics and trophies don’t back your claims, the Merengue have been Spain’s second best team ever since either, Cristiano Ronaldo and Mesut Özil were born. Even Real Madrid’s cantera is playing second fiddle to FC Barcelona’s La Masia.

However, this is not to suggest that Real Madrid’s youngsters aren’t of exceptional quality, they just don’t get a chance to prove themselves. The most popular example for Galactico policy gone wrong, Chelsea FC’s latest addition Juan Mata who made the jump to the English Premier League side via Valencia CF. Here’s what Barca Blaugranes La Liga encyclopedia, Michal Doran, had to say  about this matter:

Real Madrid's failing factory - Michal Doran
However, while it may not be immediately obvious, in terms of the quality Real's cantera has produced, La Fabrica is well up there with Europe's best. In contrast to Barca's famous farmhouse, though, much more often than not, Real's graduates have been let go once they reach the cusp of the senior squad and go on to find fame elsewhere. Samuel Eto'o; Borja Valero; Juan Mata; Esteban Cambiasso; Alvaro Negredo; Roberto Soldado. The eye-opening list goes on and on. These are world class players, most of whom would contribute extensively to the modern Merengues under Jose Mourinho's stewardship. Letting go one or two top class players might be unlucky, but with so many it is clear there have been fundamental problems with Real's production line.

But what about the next (read: the one after Thiago Alcantara’s) generation of FC Barcelona youngsters? Well, some of them bide their time for FC Barcelona B. Though they won tonight’s game (recap due tomorrow) the future of FC Barcelona slightly underperformed against Villarreal B (read: lost 2-0).

Game Recap: FC Barcelona B 0-2 Villarreal CF B - Paul Udani
It ended 2-0 to Villarreal B, certainly not the start Eusebio was hoping for.

Paul was not amused. The A-Team (yeah, I love that series even the motion picture) fared infinitely better against the Yellow Submarine. Since I’m running out of superlatives to describe this current crop of FC Barcelona players, I will simply settle for amazing. Trialing an untested 3-4-3 formation nobody (yours truly included) could’ve anticipated a 5-0 blowout, against a Champions League team no less.  FC Barcelona’s performance was so mesmerizing, it prompted both, Emile Avanessian and Gabriel Roberts (yay, he’s back!) to address Pep’s genius.

New Shape, Same Results- FC Barcelona's 3-4-3 Destroys Villarreal - Emile Avanessian
With all of that said, however, when used judiciously with the proper personnel, the 3-4-3 is nothing short of devastating. Pep Guardiola is deserving of praise for his creativity in the use of arguably the most talented roster in world football. While not "innovating" per se, his willingness to recognize tactics that have worked in the past, he has given himself yet another weapon with which to baffle opponents. 

FC Barcelona's 3-4-3 and the Genius of Pep Guardiola - Gabriel Roberts
After years of the 4-3-3, in the face of fear and skepticism, and a day after Madrid demolished Zaragoza 6-0, Pep did what all great leaders do: he improvised.  If there’s any joker out there that still questions the skill and value of Pep, they need only look to Monday’s match for evidence of what we’ve been saying for awhile: Pep Guardiola is the best manager in football.

It’s a luxury problem I love to have. I have all my writers back and they produce the goods. On another note, criminally underrated goalkeeper, Victor Valdes, has equaled Andoni Zubizaretta’s, FC Barcelona’s current sporting director, appearance record. The new benchmark for FC Barcelona goalkeepers stands at a mighty 410 games, and he’s still fairly young, for a goalkeeper. Someone who is almost guaranteed to not add to his total is Wolfsburg loanee, Alexander Hleb. Though his loan deal expires at the end of the calendar year I’m confident we have seen the last of the Belarusian.

The Big Summer Clearout - Moi
Barring any unforeseen circumstances or a sudden change of heart from Alexandr Hleb, the proposed loan of the Belarusian to German Bundesliga side Wolfsburg should conclude FC Barcelona’s transfer activity for this year

And he’s gone. Gone. So gone. In-house typing machine, Inder Methil, however hopes that Pep Guardiola choses to extend his fruitful reign at Barcelona.

 For Love of the Game - Inder Methil
Some hard work, a little bit of luck and Pep Guardiola (the most important part) will take this team to levels never seen before. A new class will be made with F.C Barcelona and Lionel Messi as holders, all other teams and players will be a step down. This isn’t me dreaming as a Culé but predicting the start of an era with all the danger signs there for the world to see.

Perhaps Pep Guardiola can indeed eternalize FC Barcelona as the best footballing side of all time. This Barcelona team could be very well the best team that has ever played the beautiful game. Once again highlighting that club football is much more entertaining and rewarding than pointless and meaningless international friendlies, or tournaments for that matter. There are three or four exceptional international teams (Spain, Germany, Holland) while the rest is slightly above average. England though always touted as a favorite has yet to qualify for a semi-final at any tournament, Brazil is disorganized while Argentina should stop trying to emulate FC Barcelona and/or find a decent manager. C’mon, installing Maradona as a manager is never a good idea. Barca Blaugranes United States Senior Editor, Jose A., offered some insights on this matter:

How pointless International friendlies do damage to FC Barcelona and to Spain - Jose A.
FIFA friendlies offer a sub-par performance and a weak medium of entertainment. The fact that FIFA chooses to interrupt the season for its personal gain only draws criticism from everyone affected by these games. FIFA therefore, also looses more than it gains with such friendlies

Nevertheless, not every aspect of club football is perfect. The exceptional start of both, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid into the current La Liga campaign has once again sparked the debate of whether the disproportional allocation of TV-Revenue has detrimental effects on the league as a whole. Senior Editor Arron Duckling addressed this issue and came to a very interesting conclusion:

Why the Duopoly of FC Barcelona and Real Madrid is not down to TV revenue - Arron Duckling
Proposing a new TV deal is all well and good, but I fear that even that would be wasted with this incompetence. Villarreal’s current TV-deal puts them level (give or take €100-200k) with Schalke and only €3 million behind Bayern Munich. The Bundesliga side pride themselves on financial solvency, and are reaping the rewards, though this financial well-being does not come through astronomical TV income. Other ways, such as reduced ticket prices to bring more fans, emphasis on youth development and efficient, cost-effective management negate the smaller income, and provide a product that is burgeoning. I am not saying that Villarreal should reach the semi-finals of the Champions League like Schalke, but financial responsibility does not have to come at the cost of competitiveness.     Perhaps it is not the TV deal that needs a drastic change, but the upper echelons of the Spanish board-rooms do.

So that’s it for me. If all goes well, and I remain undetected I should submit my next Review from way behind enemy lines, Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu.

Yours truly,


SB Nation’s Cule-in-Chief



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