Salute the Champions: Barcelona FC

April 7, 2010 at 4:06 am | Posted in General Football | 4 Comments

I’m not sure why it is that I don’t love Barcelona FC. Their motto is “more than a club”. Rather than cashing in on a shirt sponsorship deal, Barca donate the space on their jerseys to UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s charity. They do other excellent charity work in helping underprivileged and poor youth. Barcelona FC is a true club, owned and operated by its members. These members insist on flowing, attacking football which entertains. They play in an awesome stadium, Camp Nou, which is a magnificent temple of football (see my earlier post on my own visit to Camp Nou for a champ’s League match with Leeds United).

Yet, even taking all of the above into account I found myself cheering for Arsenal in todays second leg of the Champions League Quarter Final. I suppose you can take the Englishman out of England, but you can’t take the English out of the Englishman. I don’t ordinarily support Arsenal, but I do like to see English teams win (with the possible exception of Chelsea).

Watching Arsenal in the English Premier League is always a joy.  They play beautiful passing football and the other teams, for the most part, can only sit back and watch in despair. Today at Camp Nou Barca turned the tables on them. Despite scoring the first goal, Arsenal were reduced to being a bunch of practice pylons. Leonel Messi scored four goals to completely destroy poor Arsenal.

What strikes me as remarkable about Barca is they defend just as well as they attack. I am not sure what it is that Barca does, but even an excellent possession side like Arsenal were made to cough up the ball after one or two passes by Barca’s defensive play. Barca’s players all seem to be players who can keep possession, pass and defend equally well.

Team for team I believe the English Premier League is the best league but I don’t think any team in the world is as good as Barcelona FC. They are truly awesome.

A stern test awaits Barca in the Semi-final verses the Dark Lord’s (Jose Mourinho) Inter Milan. Mourinho’s teams play an uncompromising and tough defensive style that just may be able to stifle and intimidate Barca’s artistic side. It may just be a low scoring defensive struggle. Watch this semi-final series if you like lots of nasty fouls and players holding their legs while lying down and screaming. Watch for a few red cards to fly as well. It’s not going to be pretty!

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  1. Guardiola re-introduced pressing to the Barca squad, something they forgot about under Rijkaard. Classic Dutch football: minimize space when your opponent has the ball, maximize space when you have the ball. Now they push so hard to get the ball back if they lose it, knowing that the other team can’t score if they don’t touch the ball. It was pretty distressing (I’m an Arsenal fan) to see Arsenal undone so easily, to see their vaunted passing restricted so decisively.

    No team can match them right now, and no one can match Messi. Enjoy it while he’s here, you’re watching a soon-to-be legend of the game.

    • Scary to think Messi is only 22. Too bad Argentina don’t have a real coach who knows how to get the best out of him. If Maradona finally figures out how to use him, they might be a dark horse to win it all…

      • “If Maradona finally figures out how to use him…”,

        And of course, this points to the fact that Messi has a lot of great talent around him at Barcelona whom I understand largely schooled him, I doubt he would not be near as good as he is if he was not thoroughly their product. I was reading in the Sun and Messi’s teammates jovially told the reporter that in practise, they can’t stop him either. That said, I think Ronaldinho went to Barcelona and probably did not have anywhere near the support and did great things as well. Of course, Argentina is always awesome and a threat, whether it be in 2002 when they failed to advance out of the group stage or in 2006 where really they played well and had that astonishing goal versus Serbia. But it would need to be asked, can Diego or about any national coach synthesise the talent around him for a World Cup team? Maybe Brenton is on to something in what he said. And what if somehow, Inter Milan are able to hold back Barca? Would that scuttle him as being seen as from another planet?

        The first game many talk of Barcelona’s great display against Arsenal, how it could have been 5-zip by halftime but it wasn’t and I think I will always remember that game because it was such an inspirational comeback, such a gritty performance to get that draw and games I see are limited but that was something to watch. Full kudos to Arsenal, I’m not going to remember as much a game in which the Gunners lacked Fabregas, Arshavin, Galles and others and indeed was lopsided even considering Barcelona’s numerous players not in that game as well because Barcelona has a lot of depth. I appreciate Chelsea, MUFC and all the teams playing generally when it is in international competition. I frown on the way the Scottish League is often put down to by some English, not a pleasant picture to me. I know some don’t and pockets of fans will take any opportunity to deride another team. I hope Fulham (by 1) and Liverpool (by 2…now 3…) can hold on to their half time leads though full respect to respectively Wolfsburg and Benfica, other country’s deserve recognition too. The Whites, Fulham have struggled in the league but what is up with this good run of coming back against Juve and over Wolfsburg last time out?

  2. Even as to how Messi is Argentinan from what I understand he is fully a product of Barcelona from a long time ago. He’d be good but I’d be doubtful he would be as good if he had stayed on the streets of Buenos Aires, he has now been in Barcelona for years.

    I think it would be better to play a 2 legged series against Barcelona so in that, Inter Milan are fortunate versus a one off final this year in Madrid.

    People said the same thing about Ronaldinho a few years ago, how great he is, ditto for Ronaldo. So, we will have to see how true this is in the long run. I even once said he may be the best player for several years running but even right now, Barcelona are not in first place in the Liga, Real Madrid are who coincidentally got booted out of the Champions League by Lyon.

    Arsenal is an attacking team and were largely playing a reserve team in the 2nd game, Stuttgart too was a team out of form. Perhaps we will see something with Inter Milan and some real defence. Real Madrid and Barcelona have won 64% of the titles in Spain, after that, only 6 other teams have won it ever. That’s not very competitive, the MLS in less than 20 years probably has had almost as many different champions. Chelsea as Mourinho said last year, were really cheated out (well, he actually said that Chelsea should have been given 5 penalty kicks in that 2nd game vs. Barcelona) of going to the final and they neutralized Messi.


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