Please be patient with me here. I have no idea what I'm saying, but I just needed to say something.
As of this writing, it has been two hours since Barcelona were completely destroyed by Paris Saint-Germain and practically said goodbye to the UEFA Champions League in the early Round of 16. It was a disaster of a match, with many reasons that led to it, and while my responsibility as a blogger is to write about what happened, I honestly do not know what to say.
I remember about four years ago when Bayern Munich imposed the same humiliating result to Barça at the Allianz Arena. I was a teenager who had dreams of being a writer and who wasn't good with words enough to land a job where he could talk about football. Four years later, I am still not good with the words, but I'm a little better. After this loss, I'm the same teenager from 2013.
It is hard to wrap my head around what happened. I've witnessed a lot of crappy Barça moments in my life because I've followed this team since the early 2000s. I was part of what we in Brazil like to call "clubinhos", these medium-sized venues with a football pitch, a volleyball/basketball court and a couple of swimming pools. They had cable TV (I didn't), and they showed European football all the time. And I was friends with the owner of the clubinho, so he always put Barcelona on when they played so I could watch it, even though people only wanted to watch the Brazilian clubs.
I fell in love with the club when we had Rivaldo and qualifying for the Champions League was like winning titles. I was there when Ronaldinho arrived and we played the UEFA Cup, which is the Europa League today. I was there when the club was broke, there were no prospects for the future and things seemed really rough. I was there for the tough moments when losing to Real Madrid was a habit, and I learned to support my team in good and bad times.
I've been really freaking lucky to witness the good and bad, but I never felt as bad as I did watching what happened in Paris. Even during the tough years, I saw the club I fell in love with: a club addicted to style, to winning by playing well, to satisfying the fans who filled the Camp Nou to leave it filled with joy. Joy wasn't always there, but it somehow came back.
I haven't had joy watching Barcelona this season. And if you think I'm just taking advantage of a bad result to proclaim the club has lost its identity (there a lot of those right now), please read this post from three months ago. I said then that for the first time all season, I was given hope. I watched the Barcelona I've been watching for almost two decades, and I thought the mediocrity we have become accustomed to was going to be replaced by the gorgeous, Treble-winning football we saw under the same coach that has brought us to this point.
This is Luis Enrique's fault. This is the board's fault, who along with Enrique somehow convinced us all that losing the greatest full-back in the history of the club (Dani Alves) was no problem, and that a kid who had one great season being just solid in a lot of positions was going to play great in one single position, with the pressure of replacing the greatest full-back in the history of the club.
This is the players' fault. They lost to PSG because they didn't want it enough. They lost to PSG because they thought, like most fans, that this is PSG — we always win in the end. Like Undertaker at WrestleMania. Guess what: We have a Brock Lesnar now. And just like Undertaker lost his Mania match with a concussion, we were hit in the head multiple times by a team that was, quite simply, horny to win.
And then come the questions.
Have we been fooled by the notion that Luis Enrique could really carry on his mediocre coaching and not be caught after more than two years of doing it? Have we been fooled by Robert Fernández, who became the best sporting director in the world in the summer but signed André Gomes just so he wouldn't go to Madrid, instead of actually thinking about whether or not he would fit the style?
Is it rebuilding time? Again? Didn't we just have a rebuild in 2014? Do we need to rebuild every three years? Are we not competent enough to build a foundation for the future?
These losses happen, it's football, but they're hard to take. It's hard to make sense, it's hard to comprehend and be rational. But I do know one thing: I've seen this before. And I never gave up on my team. And I'll never give up on my team. I want things to be solved, but I won't stop supporting this team even if there's no apparent future.
There was no apparent future in 2003. I stuck with my team in 2003. Look what happened.
And hey, there's still the second leg. We never ever know.