“If last year was already a good year after winning la Copa [del Rey] and LaLiga, it’s also true that we were left with a thorn in our flesh when it comes to the Champions League and the manner in which we were eliminated.
“So ahead of this season we promise that we’ll do everything possible to make sure that this beautiful and desired cup will return once again to the Camp Nou.”
With these words FC Barcelona’s newly named captain, Leo Messi, promised to all Barcelona fans that the team would put all their energy into winning the most prestigious UEFA tournament.
Something all Culés were keen to hear from the man who, after Andres Iniesta’s departure to Japan, now has the weight of the entire Barça nation on his shoulders.
If we take into account that Messi (though still in his prime) is into his 30s, and add to that Real Madrid winning four of the last five Champions League titles, we can fully understand both the urgency and need for this current squad to get back to winning ways in Europe’s most elite competition.
However, on a personal note, I couldn’t help but feel some level of concern after hearing the Argentine’s words about promising to do “everything possible” to bring this trophy back to Barcelona.
Really? Everything possible? It sounded a bit fixated.
The reason for the distress I felt is comparable to the relative worry I currently have for a friend of mine. While recently out having drinks, my buddy started to pour out his heart to me concerning his ‘girl problems’. He was recounting stories of dates that in themselves went well, however, when it would be time to…put the ball into the back of the net so to speak, he’d get excessively nervous. This anxiety proved so disproportionate that it became detrimental to his performance. In other words (but dragging out this football metaphor a bit more), at the crucial moment of defining in front of goal, he trips up and fumbles the ball while the goalkeeper lightheartedly picks it up and belts it away from its intended target. Get the picture?
He mentioned that far from going way, the problem is only steadily increasing. So much so, that he’s even stopped putting himself in the position of potentially scoring and rather becomes their friend. Gone are his days of being a striker and instead he now plays in defense.
I dared to ask how long it had been since he last scored a goal. A substantially long time. Long enough for me to raise my eyebrows and choke a little on my beer. Ay, pobre chico…
Him being a dear friend of mine, I of course offered my ears and best possible advice to help him get over this dry streak. But while hearing him out, one element in his rationalizations became prevalent. His will to score had now become a perpetual and haunting fear of failure.
It was a vicious cycle. My friend would go out on dates, get to the point of his desired objective, only to set himself up for (at this point) for inevitable disappointment.
To go back to the original intended point of this article, this is precisely why I felt a wave of apprehension when Messi uttered to do “everything possible” to win the UCL.
As much as I want our team to win that cup, I don’t want this to become some sort of self-inflicted painful obsession, like my friend is currently experiencing.
The will to win the Champions League must not become a fixation, where every year we head into it with the best intentions, reach deep into the knockout stages, only to experience stage fright at the moment of truth and choke.
I mean, if you think about it for a second. It’s pretty crazy the point we’ve reached where Culés (and I shamefully include myself) find it hard to enjoy winning two glorious trophies at the end of the season and instead wish we’d leave with the ‘baddest bitch in the bar’ (aka the Champions League).
From a fans’ perspective, this level of entitlement is of course getting out of hand. I, therefore, would much rather ask Messi and the rest of the crew for just one thing. As mundane as this might sound, rather than assuring to do anything possible to win that title, instead just guarantee to give a 100% effort in all competitions. Promise me commitment and fighting spirit week in week out, regardless of the score or team we’re facing (#RememberRoma, #NeverForget). Promise me ‘garra’ for 90 minutes. Promise me that, win or lose, I’ll be proud of this group of players because they were engaged and did everything they possibly could to win. In return, I’ll promise to continue to be forever loyal, patient and grateful.
As for my friend…there’s always Viagra.