For the past four years we have witnessed the dominance of Barcelona FC over every other team there is in soccer. The class and style of its game is exquisite and quite admirable. And the quality of soccer played by Barcelona is impeccable and simply extraordinary, usually having complete possession of the ball, which gives them absolute control over its rivals.
Nevertheless, once you are at the top (when you are # 1), it is harder to keep up with yourself than for the other teams to keep up with you. When you are the best, teams start studying you harder, deeper and more carefully by analyzing plays and creating new tactics to use against you. Teams get used to your way of playing and even though you beat them, they still learn some more about your strategies, your strengths and, most importantly, your weaknesses.
For rival teams, this is an adaptation process that may take longer than they would like to, as fans suffer from their losses and get discouraged, but once the rival teams find the way to get revenge, it is a sweet moment for the team and the fans, as well.
Basically, that is what happened last Saturday against Real Madrid and last Tuesday against Chelsea FC. They obviously were not pretty ways to win, as they both (Real Madrid and Chelsea FC) played a very defensive game against Barcelona FC, in which the counter attack would be their best ally, and it worked for them. They believed it could work, executed their plan beautifully and proved to be the right move.
That being mentioned, I also want to add that it seemed to me like both Real Madrid and Chelsea FC wanted the victory more in those two games. I may be wrong, but I was lucky enough to watch both games live at Camp Nou and, almost at no point, I felt that extra effort by the Barca players. Fans were losing their voices cheering, shouting and singing for their beloved Barcelona, but, to me, the players did not seem to get electrified by those gestures.
I felt like they were missing that spark that they had been displaying for the past four years. Now it is like they have lost their "mojo". Even when they were down and needed to score (and the whole stadium was hopeful that they would score and come back to win it, like they usually do), I did not notice a sense of urgency by the Barca players, for the most part –until the last five minutes of the game.
In my opinion, coach Guardiola made the right decision stepping out of the coaching position at the end of this season, as it is time for a change in Barcelona FC. Now Tito Vilanova, who was Guardiola’s assistant coach, will be the new coach of the team and have the opportunity to provide the team with a fresh start and new ideas under the same concept that the team has been utilizing these past years.
Tito is a man who believes in “La Cantera”, is accustomed to the pressure and challenge of the media, team and fans, feels the colors of Barca and understands the objectives of the team. Therefore, this should be a fairly simple transition that, hopefully for Barcelona FC, will help them elevate their game and have a better season next time, overall.
As for Guardiola, I think it is easy to say that it has been an impressive coaching career for him. Guardiola and his team made history in the club. His success as Barca’s coach went beyond the three Ligas, three Spanish Supercups, two Champions Leagues, two Clubs World Cups, two European Supercups and one Copa del Rey that the team won. Guardiola’s team broke and set records, and displayed the best soccer in the world for four straight years. They were always the team to beat at any particular tournament, attracted fans from all over the world, and defeated 56 out of the 57 teams that they faced in the Guardiola era. Curiously, the one team they were never able to beat was Chelsea FC.
-Y gracias por no fumar!
|Guardiola being thrown up by his players while celebrating his first |
Champions League Cup. Picture from soccer-magazine.com