Young footballers have something important to teach their veterans.
When nothing is given, and you have to earn every tomorrow, you play with all your heart.
You shed your fear, and find a way to make an impact, even when the strategy is poor or non-existent.
Ronald Araujo was born in this Barcelona fire, but he has never made excuses, or complained about the circumstances being unfair.
He wears the Barca colors with pride.
Through these struggles, you start to see Riqui Puig in a different light. Is he being foolish, or selfish for refusing to leave when he isn’t wanted? Or does he love his club enough that he’s willing to stay and fight through thick and thin?
This is the profile that Ronald Koeman should have been embracing the whole time.
Instead he has managed out of fear, and demonstrated to his players that he is out of ideas.
In the meantime, while veterans like Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba and Sergi Roberto carry trauma and self-doubt, youngsters such as Sergino Dest and Gavi are putting their heads down and giving it a go.
Against Granada, I kept asking myself two questions.
Why do the Barca attackers look like ghosts?
How, in contrast, do Ronald Araujo and Sergino Dest look so alive?
Yes, the strategy of whipping balls in the box becomes predictable, and even when you’re trailing by a goal you need to have more variety in the attack.
But when the midfield is creating nothing, and your forwards aren’t getting involved in the action, Dest did exactly what you want him to do.
From the left and right side, no excuses, he made Granada defend, putting in 16 crosses, almost all of which were well delivered.
Give credit to Memphis Depay too. What a frustrating game to be a star striker. Still, he stayed engaged offensively and defensively, put in 16 crosses of his own, and managed four shots.
The spiritual leader of this team, however, is Araujo.
Against Bayern Munich, and again on Monday, he is doing everything.
1 v 1 defending in open space. No problem.
Last ditch tackles in the box? Timed to perfection.
First man to the ball on set pieces? Every time.
Araujo has skill and natural physicality, but what we are seeing on display is his desire.
On Monday, he rescued a point for his team, but it could have been three with a bit more luck after leading his team with five shots, three of which were on target.
Credit to Oscar Mingueza, who also plays with a fiery determination, even while working with less natural born ability than the Uruguayan.
With Mingueza in the game, I was reminded how important he’s going to be to Barca’s success. A true utility player that you can count on. Determined defensively, two tackles won in limited minutes, and a knack for going forward too, nine crosses into the box.
Eric Garcia should follow in their footsteps. If he was born ten years earlier, maybe he could have been a Gerard Pique protégé, but in today’s game, he will need to make his presence felt up and down the field the way Araujo does.
Against Granada, it was the young defenders who showed the way. Even Alejandro Balde did everything he could while playing through a back injury.
Tomorrow, as the injured list continues to grow, the opportunity could be there for Gavi, Riqui, Nico, and Yusuf Demir.
Seize the day gentlemen while you can.
Don’t count on your coach to give you direction.
Play with pride for the club you love, and give the fans something to cheer about.
Win or lose, we all need something to believe in as we travel these rocky roads.
Baby Barca, your time is now.