November 30, 2010

FC Barcelona: A Work of Art

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In the words of former France and Manchester United striker Eric Cantona,  “[soccer] is like fencing; it is a noble art.” And like every kind of art, you will always find numerous artists with different styles and levels of quality. However, there is regularly a grand artist or group of artists that transcends the traditional trends of art to develop something revolutionary, something magical. The Beatles did it with music. Vincent van Gogh did it with painting. Alfred Hitchcock did it with cinematography. And after watching Monday’s 5-0 trashing of rival Real Madrid — the New York Yankees of the sport — I am urged to say that FC Barcelona did it with soccer. There is no doubt that head coach Pep Guardiola and his men form the best Barcelona squad in the club’s history. Since Guardiola replaced Frank Rijkaard in 2008, Barcelona has a 72.73 winning percentage; with 1A04 wins, 26 draws and just 13 losses in 143 games played. In addition to this astounding statistic, it is also worthy to mention that Barcelona won thåe Liga BBVA (Spain’s league), the Copa del Rey (domestic cup competition) and the UEFA Champions League (the world’s most prestigious competition at the club level) during Guardiola’s first campaign as a manager for the club — becoming the youngest coach in history to win the Champions League in the process. After winning every possible competition during the 2008-09 campaign, the team later won Spain’s Super Cup, the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup in the first half of the 2009-10 season to become the first team in the game’s history to win six trophies in six competitions — the sextuple — throughout the course of a year. To have an idea of what this feat means, let me just say that nobody has even achieved to win the quintuple. The only team that has been somewhat close to Barcelona’s accomplishment was Scotland’s Celtic Football Club, which won a quadruple during the remote 1966-67 campaign. In addition to these exceptional performances, Barcelona is a living record-breaking machine; for example, the club won the 2009-10 edition of Spain’s league with 99 points, the most in the competition’s history. Because of the team’s prosperity under Guardiola — while also giving some credit to Rijkaard, who won several domestic leagues and the Champions League during the course of five years — it is not a coincidence that FIFA has named Barcelona the most successful club of the 2000-10 decade. Behind the team’s accomplishments and victories, there is a chemistry between the players that I have not seen before in my life with other teams. FC Barcelona has taken the playing style created by the Dutch — total football — to another level. With the likes of Lionel Messi — the current World Player of the Year — and world champions David Villa, Andrés Iniesta and Xavi Hernández, the team is filled with an extremely talented roster that plays like a machine. Every player is a part of the machine and knows how each player on the pitch is going to behave. For instance, when Iniesta has the ball, he already knows where Xavi is going to be — as evidenced by Monday’s goal against Madrid. It is like the entire roster is just a single intelligent apparatus, composed of 11 different pieces. And when the 11 pieces are in their place, everything is just automatic; the team just plays, and does one hell of a good job.

There is no denying that Barcelona’s current generation of players is indeed a special one. There has not been one like it before. This is proved by Spain’s first ever FIFA World Cup trophy last summer in South Africa. Out of the starting 11 that played in the final game against the Netherlands, seven players currently form part of the Barcelona’s roster. And most impressively, every single goal scored by Spain during the World Cup was notched by members of the Catalan team. It took Spain 101 years of existence to win the world’s biggest sporting event; this generation — led by Barcelona’s talent — the country was finally able to achieve it.

Indeed, like the club’s slogan mentions, FC Barcelona is more than a club. It is genius.

Original Author: AJ Ortiz