Skip to content

Some thoughts on FC Barcelona’s style, one that yielded trophy-filled substance

Apr 27, 2012, 9:27 AM EST

Barca-2011

When Barcelona brushed aside Manchester United last year, claiming its second Champions League title in three years, I wrote about hyperbole.

I wrote in my blog about journalists’ over dependence on it. They are prone to it the way excited teenagers are prone to drama, admittedly. It’s part of the journalistic condition; we like to feel that we are living in, and writing about, history in the making.

All that said, I truly felt that Barcelona FC’s recent version, under Pep Guardiola’s masterful watch, must surely have been among the top individual clubs of all time.

To see what they did that 2011 day (pictured) to Sir Alex Ferguson’s might men was breathtaking. Remember, this outstanding Manchester United assembly had just won another English Premier League title, crowned champions in an association so many consider the globe’s best. And yet, the loss to Barcelona looked like varsity vs. JV on the schoolyard.

I wrote that Barcelona, guided majestically by Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Leo Messi, were absolutely playing a different game – and quite a beautiful one.

When elements of substance and style come together so seamlessly, so effectively, something truly enlightened is going on.

See, there’s that hyperbole I talked about. But I believe it’s justified in this case.

The entire side’s ability to create space and maintain the tidiest of control is like none I’ve ever seen. Their overall tactical awareness and individual attention to spacing and efficient movement off the ball is sublime. Their passing precision (giving the ball to the correct foot, for instance, at just the right moment) is utterly enlightened. Their footwork is perennially bright and active. And consider that the level of fitness required for that pressing game is something most of can’t fathom.

That’s what I wrote on my blog a year ago.

This year’s Barcelona? Something was clearly missing, a knife’s edge gone dull. Still, what Guardiola built over four years shouldn’t be diminished. The blessedness of substance meeting style never should be.

Latest Posts
  1. Mascherano completely rules out any possibility of Messi leaving Barca

    Nov 20, 2014, 10:45 PM EST

    Lionel Messi, Neymar Lionel Messi, Neymar

    Mascherano: “Messi didn’t say anything weird, he said what all football players are thinking.”

  2. Newcastle manager Alan Pardew applauds Ayoze Perez’s dominant form

    Nov 20, 2014, 9:24 PM EST

    Newcastle United v Liverpool - Barclays Premier League Newcastle United v Liverpool - Barclays Premier League

    Alan Pardew has enjoyed newcomer Ayoze Perez’s huge impact, as the young Spain international has netted three goals in three consecutive matches.

  3. Sheffield United rescind training offer from convicted rapist Ched Evans

    Nov 20, 2014, 8:19 PM EST

    Soccer - Ched Evans file photos

    Following widespread discontent, convicted rapist Ched Evans won’t be back on the field for Sheffield United as expected.

  4. Inside MLS fan groups: DC United

    Nov 20, 2014, 7:32 PM EST

    Columbus Crew v D.C. United Getty Images

    Meet the supporters of D.C. United, an MLS club steeped in tradition since the league’s inception.

  5. Tim Howard easily wins U.S. Soccer’s Male Athlete of the Year award

    Nov 20, 2014, 6:00 PM EST

    tim_howard Getty Images

    Tim Howard unsurprisingly takes U.S. Soccer’s Male Athlete of the Year award.

  6. Wigan Athletic shirt sponsor cuts ties with club, calls Mackay’s remarks “untenable”

    Nov 20, 2014, 5:10 PM EST

    Aston Villa v Cardiff City - Premier League Getty Images

    Wigan Athletic shirt sponsors have ended their contract with the club due to Malkay Mackay’s illicit text messages.

  7. Pepe: “It would be a scandal” if Ronaldo didn’t win Ballon d’Or

    Nov 20, 2014, 4:30 PM EST

    FBL-ESP-LIGA-REALMADRID-BARCELONA FBL-ESP-LIGA-REALMADRID-BARCELONA

    “It would be a scandal and a shame if they did not give [Ronaldo] the Ballon d’Or,” says Pepe.

  8. Buffon, Chiellini pledge future to Juventus with contract extensions

    Nov 20, 2014, 3:55 PM EST

    112014-Chiellini-PI.vadapt.320.medium.0 Getty Images

    Gianluigi Buffon and Giorgio Chiellini are set to stay at Juventus with fresh deals.

  9. Wigan owner Dave Whelan accused of anti-Semitic remarks

    Nov 20, 2014, 3:39 PM EST

    Wigan Athletic v Arsenal - FA Cup Semi-Final Wigan Athletic v Arsenal - FA Cup Semi-Final

    Whelan: “I think Jewish people do chase money more than everybody else. I don’t think that’s offensive at all.”

  10. What to expect as USA, Premier League star Geoff Cameron joins ProSoccerTalk

    Nov 20, 2014, 3:02 PM EST

    Cameron AP

    Details on Geoff Cameron’s exciting new role with ProSoccerTalk.

  11. FIFA saga takes new twist: World Cup corruption report to be reviewed

    Nov 20, 2014, 2:31 PM EST

    64th FIFA Congress 64th FIFA Congress

    Review of FIFA’s corruption report ordered, as Qatar, Russia scrutinized once again.

  12. VOTE – Best choice for MLS expansion: Las Vegas, Sacramento or Minneapolis?

    Nov 20, 2014, 1:32 PM EST

    Vikings Stadium Football AP

    You get your say. After MLS held talks with cities in California, Nevada and Minnesota, is this the right move for the league?

  13. Mix-up: Manchester United say Daley Blind out for six months, then deny it

    Nov 20, 2014, 12:02 PM EST

    Manchester City v Manchester United - Premier League Getty Images

    Blind was ruled out for six months by United’s Twitter account… but there’s been a twist.

  14. Finalists for 2014 MLS awards announced: No MVP for BWP, and much more

    Nov 20, 2014, 10:54 AM EST

    Seattle Sounders v Los Angeles Galaxy - Western Conference Championship - Leg 1 Getty Images

    Here are the finalists for MLS 2014 awards. Agree? Disagree?

  15. Olivier Giroud makes shock return for Arsenal, fit for Manchester United clash

    Nov 20, 2014, 8:39 AM EST

    Olivier Giroud AP

    Giroud back a month ahead of schedule to hand Gunners massive boost.

  16. Report: Arsenal have deal in place to sign Chelsea’s Petr Cech

    Nov 20, 2014, 8:05 AM EST

    Chelsea v Paris Saint-Germain FC - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final Getty Images

    Cech set for a move to the Emirates in January according to reports.

Featured video

Preview: Arsenal vs. Manchester United