It’s hard to admit it, I think, but this loss is not, for me, devastating. I don’t want it to be devastating, of course, I don’t want to be sad, but it is surprising that I am neither. I am, partially, numbed by the up-and-down emotions of the match itself, which was end-to-end for almost 90 minutes, with blistering moments of genius, balls banging off posts, a brilliant golazo, a series of harsh fouls, a fantastic last-ditch effort by Puyol to keep a ball out of our net, and, at the end, the final whistle that did not bring us solace.
We did not have an Iniestazo in us, a Pedrazo. But we were facing a really gifted team, with grit and a plan. Perhaps you did not like that plan, but for the first 20 or 30 minutes, it worked to perfection. It worked as our midfield was anonymous to the point of me actually questioning whether they were on the field or not. It worked enough to get us frustrated. Then we went to the locker room and I can only imagine that Guardiola talked to the team, calmed them, assured them that we were the better squad, but that now we had to prove it. Don’t get tight, don’t get angry, get moving. Get going. Get rolling. And Xavi responded first in the second half and he ended up being the one to score our goal and draw us level on aggregate, but behind on away goals.
It was always going to be hard and it was. The pitch was water-logged in places, but by the end of the match it was fine. It’s no excuse, but no excuse is needed. We are and ever will be, Barça. We were beautiful today at times, enough to take your breath away. Tiki-taka, baby, is where it’s at. No one does it better and I think that soon we will look back on this and we’ll be amazed that we didn’t know we’d be as good as we are.
Even the best teams lose sometimes and it’s important to maintain perspective. We are not slipping down some slope toward mediocrity and our title aspirations have not taken a massive hit because a couple of teams have figured us out. Our quality overall is massively higher than almost any other club in the world–a fairly decent case could be made for us simply being the best–and that’s a pretty amazing thing. Sometimes the best team doesn’t win and when they don’t, you still have to enjoy them, their play, and their players. It’s not often this kind of awesome talent gets put on a field together and it’s fun to watch. Enjoy it, everyone, while it lasts, because soon enough it will be gone and we will miss these glorious years, even as we add more wonderful players and trophies to our already burden history.
As a Kansas basketball fan (whose victory today against Nebraska helped heal some of my Barça loss pain), I know what winning everything but the big one can feel like, but I’ve also learned that if you never lose, you never really know how to win. And now that we know how to lose, we’re going to crush some people on Saturday. You can take that to the freakin’ bank.
As always, have your say in the comments.