I am proud to support FC Barcelona. I am proud to say that I am a fan of one of the greatest football teams the world has ever seen. I am proud to support Pep Guardiola, Victor Valdez, Daniel Alves, Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique, Rafael Marquez, Gabriel Milito, Dmytro Chygrynskyi, Eric Abidal, Maxwell Andrade, Gnegneri Yaya Toure, Seydou Keita, Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, Jeffren Suarez, Pedro Rodriguez, Bojan Krkic, Thierry Henry, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and Lionel Messi.
For I have only recently realized how great this team truly is. For I have recently become fully aware of how wonderful the Blaugrana truly are – why FC Barcelona is mes que un club indeed.
Consider the following:
1) Even a draw against FC Barcelona is celebrated. In fact, even that draw requires ‘tactical genius’ and wins international acclaim for simply not losing.
2) A 1-0 victory and 3-2 aggregate loss (with several key players, including a Ballon D’Or nominee, missing) in the semifinal of the UEFA Champions League against serial Scudetto winners (and current holders) is treated like a huge loss at Camp Nou.
3) You can count on your fingers the number of teams that have truly beaten Barcelona (and not in the figurative sense of the word) – teams like Inter Milan, Shakhtar Donetsk, Atletico Madrid, Rubin Kazan, Sevilla. It is increasingly difficult to find a team that attacks and defeats the club. The regard in which opponents hold the Blaugrana speaks volumes.
4) Failing to reach the Final of the UEFA Champions League results in a mass outpouring of schadenfreude, the likes of which were last seen when Liverpool beat Manchester United 4-1 (that too on a smaller scale.)
5) This team has, perhaps, accumulated more major titles and trophies than any other since 2005 (11) – winning the Champions League twice, getting knocked out in the semifinals twice, and winning La Liga thrice (with one second place finish.)
6) Hardcore fans of the team have been happily celebrating for so long that they are accused of being smug and arrogant – for simply expressing joy at success, and despite never showing a lack of respect for any opponents. As a result some have become intensely critical.
7) A new striker from a radically different league is called a failure despite contributing over 30 goals in his first season (21 goals,10 assists).
8 ) Some of the best players in the world are criticized – by their own fans, no less – for not scoring a hat-trick every game, for not contributing two assists per match, for not running 50 kilometers in 90 minutes, for not putting in three match-saving diving tackles every time the other team attacks. They do, however, sometimes get appreciated for playing 17 consecutive games every three days.
9) It takes the Madrid-based Marca to point out that Barcelona have accumulated a record total of 93 points in La Liga, and only the coach of the team declares himself to be satisfied (he’s a funny man, this Pep Guardiola – last year, as the team marched onto a sextet, he refused to celebrate, but now, as his men still battle to keep La Liga, he sits and smiles.)
10) The team management has the hubris to believe that the team can successfully compete for six titles again with one of the smallest effective squads in Europe (both in number and size).
And finally, on a more personal note…this team made a devoted fan out of me despite winning absolutely zilch in the first two years that I got to know them. I started following European club football in the fall of 2006, and have only grown as a cule since falling in love with the Barca way – despite the heartbreaking finale in 2007, despite the embarrassment of 2008.
This team has given me, all FC Barcelona fans, and all football fans a tremendous amount of joy over the past few years. And for that I thank them.
I am proud to support FC Barcelona. I am proud to say that I am a fan of one of the greatest football teams the world has ever seen.
Note: This was originally written in longhand a few days after the loss to Inter, in the hours before Barcelona beat Villarreal…as usual, for many reasons I was unable to type and post it.
Update: These are my brief thoughts on the Champions League semifinal:
1) Inter Milan fully deserve to go through,they succeeded over 180 min.
2) Barcelona played well,but could not win for a number of reasons,including but not limited to poor finishing,defensive lapses,accumulated fatigue,limited squad depth,and luck.
3) Busquets deserves all the ridicule and rebuke and should offer a public apology,after first apologizing to his team,so that he does not bring shame to the likes of Messi, Pedro, and others who refuse to go down even when they are tackled.
4) What Valdes did was wrong. And what Mourinho did was wrong too. What the ground staff/admin did was wrong. But a small group cannot be said to represent the whole.