Skip to content

Strange to hear Johan Cruyff full of praise for Real Madrid, concern for Barcelona

Jun 26, 2013, 7:58 PM EDT

NETHERLANDS-SPORT-EDUCATION

Johan Cruyff is as Barcelona as anybody born outside Cataluyna could be. He played and coached the club, saw his son come up through their system, and even coached the Catalan national team. His family has lived in Barcelona off-and-on for the last 40 years. The man’s had his oranje blood replaced with blaugrana.

So it must take a special set of circumstances for the Dutch icon to speak kindly about Real Madrid and against Barcelona within the span of a couple of days. Perhaps, with the legend’s tendency toward contrarian opinions, it’s not as rare as I’m implying, but it’s still noteworthy when a Barça icon’s willing to heap so much praise on the club’s arch rivals.

The praise starts with the acquisition of Carlo Ancelotti, a coach for whom Cruyff clearly has a high regard:

“Ancelotti will be a breath of fresh air. Real Madrid has great players, they just need to play like a team. Ancelotti will make that happen. He has played and coached at the very top, so he knows full well what goes on in the dressing room”.

There’s a bit of a back-hand in there. The “play like a team” comment can be read as ‘Barcelona play the right way, which is as a team, so Real Madrid need to play more like us.’ Then again, with Real Madrid fans so disillusioned about their play in the wake of José Mourinho, Cruyff might not get an argument from the capital.

But style and coaching were not the only areas where Cruyff had praise. While Cruyff shares concerns about Isco’s potential fit at Real Madrid, he’s full of plaudits for the player:

“I already had a very high opinion of Isco from his performances at Málaga and what he did at the Under-21 Euros only added to that. He has ability, but he’ll face stiff competition at Real Madrid because there are a lot of other players in his position”

Contrast that with what Cruyff’s said about Barcelona in the wake of the Neymar addition, comments which may hint at a bit of a generational issue in how he sees world soccer:

With Neymar on board, I would have planned for the possibility of selling Messi, and some would agree with that, others not. You are talking about a team, its players, the things around it… There are too may things at stake. That’s why it’s so difficult to manage such a top class squad.

Cruyff’s logic seems pretty clear, thoughts which lean on a type of Alpha Dog philosophy. Messi’s and alpha. Neymar’s assumed to be an alpha. They can’t work together, the thinking goes.

Given the way the modern game’s going, clubs can’t abide by that philosophy. Whether you like it or not (most don’t), all the alphas are congregating onto a handful of teams – the eight or 10 clubs that can afford to pay top dollar in both transfer fees and wages. And while the Alpha Dog philosophy is strong, financial incentives are stronger, as are competitive desires. With those eight to 10 team monopolizing titles in the biggest competitions, a lot of players are going to Alexei Sanchez/Luka Modric it, moving into a crowded setup for chance to win big things.

If you’re a club like Barcelona, you just can’t be turning down one Alpha because of the presence of another. These days, you either make it work or fall by the wayside, and given there’s very little about Neymar and Messi’s games that conflict, odds are they’ll make it work.

Latest Posts
  1. Watch Live: Manchester United vs. Inter Milan (Lineups and Discuss)

    Jul 29, 2014, 8:24 PM EDT

    International Champions Cup 2014 - AS Roma v Manchester United Getty Images

    In team news, van Gaal has decided to go with his fabled 3-5-2.

  2. Instagram Transfer Rumors: Radamel Falcao heading to Real Madrid

    Jul 29, 2014, 8:03 PM EDT

    Radamel Falcao AP

    In a startling revelation, AS has revealed that Radamel Falcao has begun following three Real Madrid players on Instagram.

  3. Report: Southampton set to swap Dani Osvaldo for Inter Milan’s Saphir Taidar

    Jul 29, 2014, 7:08 PM EDT

    Norwich City v Southampton - Premier League Getty Images

    Big day for headlines coming out of Southampton but this one looks to be quite promising for Saints fans.

  4. Luis Felipe Scolari hired by Gremio for third stint with Brazilian club

    Jul 29, 2014, 6:30 PM EDT

    Brazil - 2014 FIFA World Cup Training Camp - Day 1 Getty Images

    Twenty-seven years after his first stint with Gremio, Luis Felipe Scolari is returning to the Brazilian side as its new manager.

  5. WATCH: Bojan Krkic scores first goal for Stoke City in 2-1 defeat to Schalke

    Jul 29, 2014, 6:00 PM EDT

    Bojan Krkic AP

    Krkic, who made the $6.7 million move from Barcelona last week, scored a cracker of a first goal for Stoke City.

  6. Report: Carlos Tevez’ stepfather freed by Argentine kidnappers

    Jul 29, 2014, 5:25 PM EDT

    Juventus v Atalanta BC - Serie A Getty Images

    Tevez’s family was then phoned and told to deliver a ransom of $5,000 (40,000 pesos).

  7. Southampton chairman claims club will reinvest $165M in this transfer window

    Jul 29, 2014, 4:53 PM EDT

    Saints have a new Saints have a new

    “Every penny of that will be up for reinvestment as transfer fees and wages,” Krueger said.

  8. Ronaldinho leaves Atletico Mineiro, could be headed to MLS

    Jul 29, 2014, 4:03 PM EDT

    Brazil Atletico Mineiro Ronaldinho AP

    Where, exactly, Ronaldinho’s future ends up is anyone’s guess.

  9. WATCH: Five international, MLS games coming your way on NBC Sports this week

    Jul 29, 2014, 3:22 PM EDT

    PremierLeagueNBC

    ICC and MLS action is in full swing in the USA this week. Watch it all online, here.

  10. New York City FC sign Jacobson from Dallas, linked with Alberto Aquilani

    Jul 29, 2014, 2:57 PM EDT

    Montreal Impact v FC Dallas AP

    Jacobson arrives in the Big Apple from Dallas. Will Aquilani join him?

  11. Morgan Schneiderlin slams Southampton after Spurs move is blocked

    Jul 29, 2014, 2:20 PM EDT

    Southampton v Fulham - Premier League Getty Images

    Now Schneiderlin wants out as Saints’ incredible exodus continues to take a turn for the worst.

  12. Barcelona reveal record income levels of $711 million

    Jul 29, 2014, 1:58 PM EDT

    Manchester City v Barcelona - UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Getty Images

    Despite not winning any silverware last season, Barcelona were big winners off the pitch.

  13. Report: Carlos Tevez’s father kidnapped, held for ransom

    Jul 29, 2014, 1:21 PM EDT

    Aston Villa v Manchester City - Premier League Getty Images

    Tevez’s father, Juan Carlos Cabral, is said to have been kidnapped in Buenos Aires and held for ransom.

  14. Southampton insist Rodriguez, Schneiderlin are not for sale

    Jul 29, 2014, 1:15 PM EDT

    350x AP

    Southampton duo are going nowhere, despite being linked with Tottenham switch.

  15. Liverpool complete $17 million signing of Belgian striker Divock Origi

    Jul 29, 2014, 12:37 PM EDT

    Source: Liverpool FC Source: Liverpool FC

    Liverpool sign talented Belgian teenager, will loan him back to Lille this season.

  16. Despite calling African players “banana eaters”, Tavecchio still set to lead Italian FA

    Jul 29, 2014, 12:11 PM EDT

    Italy Federation Racism AP

    Even after calling African players “banana eaters” this man is set lead the Italian FA.

  17. Enner Valencia granted work permit, completes $20 million West Ham move

    Jul 29, 2014, 11:10 AM EDT

    Source: West Ham United Source: West Ham United

    Valencia finally signs on, as Hammers splash the cash in search of goals.

  18. Miami’s MLS future continues to hinge on downtown stadium deal

    Jul 29, 2014, 10:35 AM EDT

    Miami's Arquietectonica and 360 Architecture Miami's Arquietectonica and 360 Architecture

    Garber: “MLS will not expand to Miami unless we have a downtown site for the stadium.”