I don’t know if some of the longer-term readers of this blog have noticed, but from time to time, a noticeably ‘anti-Barcelona’ attitude tends to make itself apparent in our articles. (Don’t worry if you haven’t noticed –we’re very very subtle and PC around here) Now, this isn’t to say we’re against the Barscum twats and all they stand for, we can appreciate the tactical purity of their achievements as much as the next person – as a group of players though, they sometimes make themselves pretty hard to sympathise with.
Take Xavi for instance, the bloke is probably the most technically gifted/all-round footballer to have come from Spain, yet still he often feels the need to come out with some pretty bizarre comments. Then when he does, I’d say his opinions generally reflect the issues that rile up such contempt on this forum as well as forums all over the world.
The following is a breakdown of an interview that Xavi gave yesterday, ahead of Spain’s match with Italy tomorrow…
Opening statement: “Jose Mourinho will not go down in football history”. Yes, he actually said that. I’m trying very hard now to choose some words and arrange them in a way that completely explains what a senseless thing to say that was – sadly I’m not that talented a writer. Needless to say, Jose Mourinho in fact will go down in football history and only a person completely brainwashed with the righteous ideals of Cruyff and Michels could begin to deny that he would with any credibility, and whilst keeping a straight face.
Xavi continued… “For me Guardiola is the best, and he has been during the four years he’s been in charge at Barça, because he’s revolutionized football”. Has he? Maybe I’m being ignorant but I really can’t think of many teams in world football that have visibly changed their style of play to emulate Barcelona’s – when surely, had a revolution actually taken place, I’d be able to think of loads. Maybe his team has changed the way clubs coach their young players – after all this Barcelona side took years to develop and improve from the ground up – maybe a lot of clubs are undertaking a similar process. In which case, Guardiola (with his masterful application of other people’s ideas) will have started a revolution, but to say he has ‘revolutionized football’ clearly is incorrect.
Next Xavi said, “Barça continue to be the reference point for football the world over”. Do they? Do they really? Yeah, I suppose they do. Fair enough.
The stupidity resumed immediately however with the supposition, “Barça has also been an example, Madrid not so much. They’ve only recognized that we were better when we won”. You know what? I actually agree with him again here. How dare Real Madrid, the most famous and well decorated club in history, not concede utter inferiority to their only domestic rivals? How dare they maintain faith in their world-class coach and squad and in their ability to overcome the one-dimensional challenge Barca represented? It’s sure as hell beyond me. My favorite bit of this particular quote though is “Barça has also been an example” – no doubt in some respects they have been, but to so easily ignore how practically all your achievements are marred by controversy, and to shamelessly curse luck and negative tactics when you do fail, are not traits I’d want my team to take example of.
Naturally, Chelsea did get a brief mention, as Xavi explained despite our Champions League victory, Barcelona remained the “benchmark” of world football. Whilst it would be foolish to deny this from an objective viewpoint, it’s all too predictable disregard of our achievement, for me perfectly sums up Barcelona in all their narcissistic glory. Yesterday, Italy’s Thiago Motta said that playing good football would not be prioritized over victory against Spain. He cited the Catenaccio-styled Italy teams of the mid 60s and 70s as vindication of the defensive methods his side seem ready to employ, but as the English press pointed out this morning, he may as well have cited Chelsea. Martin Samuel in The Daily Mail called it ‘The Chelsea Affect’. Our victories over Bayern and Barcelona seem to have reminded the world that there’s more than one way to win, they’ve also shown that there are ways of winning that don’t require years of preparation and the installing of rigorous tactical discipline into every team player. One thing is for certain; our methods under Di Matteo will be referenced far more often at these Euros than Barcelona’s total football.
Xavi is certainly right when he says Barca remains the benchmark and the yardstick by which all teams will be measured for a while to come. If he thinks his team is inspiring the rest of the world to narrow mindedly embrace the principles drilled so deeply into his brain, then in my opinion, he is quite mistaken. Barca’s recent defeats to us and Real Madrid will surely give coaches second thoughts about whether their methods are worth pursuing, especially given the time and effort needed to instill such methods upon a team. For this reason, along with Thiago Motta’s comments, I think the team with the most influence on coach’s tactics, at least at the moment, is us! Whether that’s a good thing or not is up for debate, it may mean for a less open/exciting touranment at the Euros this year. Personally however, more so than a beautiful game of football – I’d like to see Spain frustrated and kept out for 90mins by Italy tomorrow, purely just to piss Xavi off.
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