This review was supposed to be about the game. About how Lord Tito sent out eleven knights, namely Pinto, Montoya, Piqué, Mascherano, Jordi Alba, Busquets, Xavi, Cesc, Iniesta, Villa and Pedro to fend off the Andalusian invaders. About how we dismembered the enemy at our doorstep with three quick goals before they could even raise their swords. About how el Cerebro, P! and el Guaje combined to strike first, how Fábregas moved and grooved for the second and how Montoya swashbuckled in a third (and his first). About how tiki-taka was once more in full effect and making quality opponents look like practice cones. About how Ghostface buried the dagger in their heart to get the second half underway. About how Masche smashed anything that came into his path and how Pinto picked off the survivors.
But 1) I don’t want to talk about that and 2) I suspect you don’t want to read about that.
The first thing I want to talk about is one hundred points, an achievement fully deserving of capital letters, ONE HUNDRED POINTS. The last time we had such a good league campaign was never. In hindsights this is easy to say, but I knew we had it won after the 8th round, in which we climbed the rollercoaster at El Riazor and got off with three points despite conceding four goals. A merengue friend texted me after that game, “partidos así ganan titulos”. Games like that win titles, indeed. It was also the game that inspired me to write my first review.
After round 8 our lead over M*drid, against whom we had drawn at the Camp Nou a week earlier, was already significant. Strangely so, one might add, because while our rivals needlessly dropped points, we miraculously avoided doing the same. We had already escaped from Pamplona by way of Messi, slept through Granada before Xavi woke us up with ice water and who could forget the Houdini act we pulled off in Sevilla? We were on the way to our best start ever and we hadn’t even started playing well yet. I guess that’s the secret, and one that is actually not kept all that well. Winning games you are not supposed to is how leagues are conquered.
The thing that remains with me most of this season is the hunger we started with. Losing the league to M*drid seemed to have hurt our players even more than the fans. With the determination of a bloodthirsty ferret, they fought to take the title back right from the start, demoralizing our rivals to the point of giving up after nineteen games. The tears of last season were transformed to steel, as we found ways to win points that we would have lost a year ago to bring us back a league that in the end could not even be threatened by the potentially fatal diseases of our coach and our best defender. And in these last couple of games, even as the title was all ready and served, we still ate as if with empty stomachs. In the face of accusations of not wanting it enough after losing to Bayern Munich in the Champion’s League semis, let these one hundred points remind you of the hunger and resolve of this group of players, as amazing a group of players as we have been blessed with as fans of the most beautiful club in the world.
Thank you for the hundred points that brought us our 22nd league title. And don’t forget, if things seem too good to be true, it is probably because they are. Our 22nd title is dedicated to our no. 22, Eric Abidal. At first, even though I was very disappointed that the club did not renew his contract, I felt that the reactions of culés both here and elsewhere were too emotional. Then I watched the press conference and got emotional myself, so I slept on it. I still didn’t think the club has treated him as badly as some had made it out to be. I actually wished my employers would treat me as well as F.C. Barcelona has treated Abidal. I still do, but that’s besides the point.
The next day Tito Vilanova gave a press conference in which has left me perplexed:
“They (Rosell and Zubi) already explained it. The fact that he does not continue leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. We will not find a central defender and left back like him. It is a club decision, agreed by all. We sat down and talked about this a lot of times. People would not have liked any other decision we could have made either.”
Any other decision? So if the club had decided to give Eric Abidal, a central defender and left back of the likes our coach says we will not find elsewhere, a contract extension it would have been received badly (or literally no hubiera gustado – people would not have liked it). Who would not have liked it? The fans? The players? Eric Abidal? The coach? A contract extension that was ready since December and merely waiting to be signed after he played his first game, according to Josep Bartomeu…
So our board, whose president sure loved the word “transparency” while he was still campaigning, is proving to be anything but. Not to the public – why did Abidal’s contract not get renewed? How much did we pay for Neymar? Twenty million? Thirty million? Twice that amount? Not to the players – Muniesa was only the last in line of those who did not know if he would stay or go until last week. Hell, there hasn’t even been any transparency between the technical director and his staff as we now risk losing Thiago for only 18 million euros because of a clause in his contract that our coaches did not even know about. I guess that for some people transparency means that things are transparent for only them. For the rest of us it is like following a Ferrari through a storm without windshield wipers.
This was supposed to be a review. But sometimes the game is bigger than that. Just like Abidal’s send off, the one that should have taken place one or two years from now when he retires with our club, was bigger than anything else last week. Because right now, how I feel about things, 22 trumps 100.
Visca Barça! Visca nostre equip! Visca Abi!
And down with Rosell!
I will possibly elaborate on my stance against Rosell in the future. For now let it suffice to say that it is my personal opinion and as such does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the other members of our team. Almost a season ago, inspired by what, together with our demolition of Milan, remains my favorite game of the season, I wrote a review of how we beat Depor with five goals to four and sent it to Kevin as an audition. Had I known then how many more hours and hours of writing would follow, I might not have sent it in. Nevertheless it has been very rewarding. I want to thank Kevin, Isaiah, NZM, Blitzen, Euler, Calvin, Luke, Linda and SoMa (my dumb ass is probably missing a cherished BFB mod) for letting me be part of the team. I want to thank our readers and commenters for the feedback and discussions. Most of all I want to thank my favorite reader who never comments but follows the blog avidly, my loving and lovely girlfriend. She now shares me not only with Football Club de Barcelona but with Barcelona Football Blog as well.