So. Something happened yesterday, and your view of what exactly transpired depends on your worldview:
–Barca kicked the crap out of its round of 16 opponent in Champions League play while also grabbing 3 away goals, to effectively kill off the tie.
–A ruffled, shaky Barca barely scraped by a weakened opponent, and it was a win, but it kinda sucked.
Whoa. That’s some “Rashomon” stuff going on there.
I came to this club a loooooong time go, when silver was a boon from the deities, rather than a birthright. I still retain the sort of shock that has me stunned and giddy when we win stuff. It’s like a birthday every day.
As I noted earlier this season, when things were still very different, to take note, and cherish this rare, beautiful collection of footballers that entertains and bedazzles us on a weekly basis, to be thankful for the joy because teams, like life, have a cycle.
So I admit to being a little surprised by some reactions to yesterday’s Champions League win after this club, used to drawing in away legs of knockout stage ties, won. With three of the most sumptuous goals you’re ever going to lay eyes on. Away goals. Killer away goals that make the coming home leg a lot easier to deal with. It was a pretty amazing thing, actually, given that everyone is already beginning to write the obituary for us. Was it the prettiest win in history? Nope. But it was decisive, and it was a win and an unexpected one — not just because of history. For me, all wins are unexpected.
Never forget that. Never expect this club to obliterate and crush any and all opponents, or even win. Any club can lose, on any day. Even the club that many are calling the greatest club footballing side evah. We should never, ever forget how amazing this club is. But that also means never, ever becoming the type cule who expects victory …. nay, destruction. Every. Last. Time. That path can only lead to disappointment.
And the goals. I have been screaming, clamoring for the kinds of bust-out, field-tilting, pace-based goals that Sanchez tallied, and there they were. In the Henry/Eto’o years we had greyhounds, straining at the traps. Defense won ball, slid to midfielder who popped it up the pitch for a streaking forward, ready to pounce on a defense that wasn’t set yet, that was still running backward for its natural life. Then bango! Goal! We got two of those yesterday, from two absurd passes. Then the third was a bull of a goal, a “doesn’t matter what you do to me, we need this!” kind of a goal where the smallest man on the pitch held off bigger ones who were bound and determined to deter him. Then he laid a flawless ball off to another determined man, who concentrated, and put that return ball in the perfect spot for our rampant little bull (no flea this time, no sir) to simply tap home, via nutmeg to boot. And that was after an earlier, post-thwarted run so remarkable that even the opposition defense was patting him on the back as if to say “Damn, dude. Sorry that didn’t go in.”
How in the hell can we ever expect such things to happen, to not smack ourselves upside the head in gape-mouthed astonishment when they do?
Even when we were, in the glory days, laying on gaudy scorelines, it was all still very surreal for me. If you remember the Rivaldo hat trick that secured fourth place for us, you know what I mean. This stuff that’s going on right now is amazing. Crazy. Pinch myself and look for the supermodel waiting to feed me ice cream crazy.
And I love it. Every last second of it. Because this club is amazing, no matter what it does. When it tastes victory, so much the better. The manner matters not. Am I a victim of my damaged past? Maybe. Probably. It wasn’t that long ago that it had been two seasons with no silver. Remember that victory is never ever expected, never assured. Even now, good cules can be identified by the nervousness that will accompany the return leg. They will be saying “What if they win 0-3 at the Camp? It could happen. Aieeeee!”
Enjoy. Cherish. Revel, even. But never, ever have expectation. This club, NO club, is ever that good. Even our coterie of magical woodland sprites.
Because as the late Al Davis said, “Just win, baby!” It mattered not to him how pretty, whether by a point or six touchdowns. Success is precious. Embrace it; but never expect it to be there.