Barça 3, Juventus 1, aka “This team stands on its own”

“I don’t know if I will stay, but I am happy at the moment.”
— Luis Enrique

“I haven’t yet decided my future.”
— Dani Alves

Those two quotes seem an odd way to start a piece on a glorious, history-making day, but they are also the perfect way to conclude the uncertainty that came to define this season, one that has ended in glittering, celebratory fashion. Having just cleaned up the streamers and confetti from the last celebration at the Camp Nou, came another one. And now, another one.

People will line up to recreate history and flay a chunk off the carcass of this team, linking it to Barça now that it has had success. But for me, this is a team that deserves … that has earned the right to stand on its own.

Rijkaard had his own wonderful period, and so did Guardiola. But really, the era that each Barça trainer embodied ended when they left, when their team tasted failure. In hitting the reset button two times after Guardiola, only Vilanova could be said to be something of a continuation, but even he set about revolutionizing the way the team went about its tasks.

Enrique came in and did his own thing, even as you can point to the similarities to the first Treble season:

— First-year coach
— Exceptional success
— Attention paid to fitness and psychology
— A dynamic front three that stretched the pitch

You can even point to parallel goals between the two teams, the first a ping-ponging paragon of unselfish perfection that essentially walked the ball into the net (Rakitic/Iniesta); the second an aggressive, out-of-nothing scramble (Suarez/Eto’o); the third a bust-out and slot home by the left winger (Henry/Neymar).

The parallels are so easy, so seductive and yet, do Luis Enrique’s Barça team a disservice. This team came together, forged on the anvil of adversity real or imagined (same effect). It played its own way even as it followed many of the Barça tenets of attractive, attacking, possession football. But even if you don’t presume that the Guardiola era ended when that great coach left the club, surely it ended psychologically when Barça put Guardiola’s Bayern Munich side to the sword.

This has been a season of exorcism, from the unparalleled joy after a season of heartbreak last year, to paying back debts to teams owed them (Atleti, Bayern) to setting off on an astounding run that found this Barça a true champion of champions, adding the champion of Italy to the other notches on its gaudy belt buckle. It has also been a fairy tale, as Xavi, a selfless legend who completely devoted himself to the club that he loves, gets to go out with a treble, the shrieks of the Camp Nou crowd ringing in his ears and now, today, one more chance to hoist a piece of silver as the Capita of the FC Barcelona football team.

It is just one more aspect of a fairy-tale season.

In making history, this Barça team was like itself in that it wasn’t at its best, but found a way to win a match that it had to. Messi wasn’t anything approaching his dynamic, all-pitch best, even Luis Suarez seemed somewhat overawed by the moment. This was a day for the other guys: Iniesta, Rakitic, Neymar, Busquets, Alves, Pique, putting in work to ensure success. Today as with the rest of this season, Barça played and won as a team.

Culers were warned that Juventus wouldn’t be pushovers, and they weren’t. Its legendary keeper, Gigi Buffon, came up colossal on three separate occasions that would probably have found other keepers lacking, leading to a second half that would have been all over but the shouting and trophy presentation. But he kept them around, and when they scored a quality team goal, it was suddenly game on, and tucker and pucker time for culers.

But just like the match in which the only goals were set pieces, or a late, late goal was forged from an ugly scramble on the goal line, this team managed to find the back of the net as it almost always has. 60 matches, 50 wins, 4 draws and 6 losses. That is an amazing record that is not only the best by any coach in Barça history, but a gauntlet that the team has thrown down for itself. Nowhere to go but down, drowning in a miasma of expectations and resurrected #luchoout hashtags.

That time will come later. For now, let this team be on its own, let it dance, and sing and get drunk atop double decker buses, make speeches at the Camp Nou and do all the silly stuff that victors do to celebrate with their supporters. They have earned it, just as they have earned the right to be champions on their own. This is about Enrique and Barça football. Be proud.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Recent Posts

Written by:

In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.

32 Comments

  1. Doug
    June 6, 2015

    Very nice Kevin – I agree, this was a combined effort.

    I sincerely hope Luis and Alves stay. This team should be formidable next year.

  2. Dar_vincy
    June 6, 2015

    Well said.

  3. Gogah
    June 6, 2015

    I am very lucky indeed.
    Lucky, that a friend introduced me to a ronaldinho video 10 years ago, before which I hadn’t seen a single football game. I’m lucky that I havent fallen so hard in love for another team nearly as much, even though I have followed several sports. I am lucky to have witnessed every game since then, living vicariously through the players as I shared their joys, victories and heart breaks. “Being a Barca fan is the best thing there is”, isn’t just a famous chant, It is a feeling. And its a feeling I’ve felt many a time. I’m lucky that Barca didn’t just give happiness to me, but also meaning.
    I am lucky that I worked my way to be able to live in Barcelona. I was lucky as hell, (to be sure) to gain free access to my football game which was the bayern home leg. I’m lucky to have witnessed THAT Messi, live. I’m lucky to have celebrated THAT Messi copa final goal ALONE in an ocean of 50000 Bilbao supporters.
    I’m lucky that my path has coincided with THIS moment in Barca’s history. For now, just. Pure. Bliss. I have been living this fully (inspite of being a foreigner) and not holding back, from singing in the crowd, making noise and engaging in other acts of hooliganism. Like Puyol, I know only all in!

    For now I leave you with this..
    *https://instagram.com/p/3my6iKMFfS/

    V.I.S.C.A

  4. luisthebeast
    June 6, 2015

    I am drunk so i am soru but for now i say only this:We are a catalan team bitches in madrid,cry now cry we are the best we win and we will have the catalan flag and not yours when we celebrate!!!!!Visca Barca Visca Catalunya!!!!!!!

  5. Archie
    June 6, 2015

    Messi and Neymar trotting up and down on the touch line paint for the first X minutes! Imagine Messi’s footballing psychic journey that he is just fine with trotting up and down the touch line in the CL final!! No worries, we have 90 mins, let’s make the field really really huge until Juve has an existential moment when they realize they need another 11 guys to cover all the spaces.

  6. ChaoticReaper
    June 6, 2015

    The result was almost never in question and the referee was very good compared to La Liga. Every push on our players got called.

  7. ChaoticReaper
    June 6, 2015

    Time for Messi to go for Copa America, UEFA super cup, spanish super cup, catalan super cup, club world cup, and the 3rd treble!!!!!

  8. i_am
    June 6, 2015

    This is my very comment on this site. I have read every single article since I found this site. I have to say that I commend u guys a lot for making discussions healthy unlike other sites.
    This season was a roller coaster one. Who remembers the black cat that came into the camp nou one the very first match day some traditions say it’s bad luck, while in some it’s good luck, but we know how the season turned out. I’m not one to believe in superstitions but what if that had an effect on our season, who is to say it didn’t because this all just surprising in as much as we watched the teams transformation into a well rounded team. From the disaster in anoeta.
    With regards to the juventus game it was a comfortable one, the only real moment of fear came after they scored. But then the team did not panic and once we got ahead there was no looking back,this team is a mean nasty bunch, they don’t really care about anything other than winning the game,what if the cat at the beginning of the season actually meant bad luck, but the players talent hard work nd desire rendered it null.
    Lastly kxevin is my favourite writer and I tell my brother about him very single day ever since I found this site. And my brother really hates Barcelona and Messi. Btw I’m 15 years of age so I don’t know if I’m the youngest on this blog

    • georgjorge
      June 7, 2015

      Welcome with your first comment! You’ve picked a good time for it. Maybe you will still manage to convert your brother…

  9. i_am
    June 6, 2015

    *first

  10. HisR0yalFlyness
    June 6, 2015

    So much joy this team has brought us. So happy to be a Barca fan. No other team can compare. Visca El Barca!!!! The absolute best!!!

  11. IamXavi6
    June 7, 2015

    So proud of our boys today. Absolutely world class performance. Buffon was excellent for Juve. For us, all played well but Neymar, Pique and Busi were amazing.Iniesta also very very good despite playing hurt?

    Regarding the laat post of does it matter if we win? Well, as a team with an amazing season, probably not if we lost..(2 titles). However let me say this -history remembers the winners…titles like this cap performances that get talkes about 20 years from now. Winning thse titles are like full stops on sentences. You HAVE to win these to get into the “greatest” debates. Thats sport.

    We are spoilt to have this club and these players. Think about our record of semi final appearanes in a row…every year of recent memory we have a chance at the big dance…we are spoilt. Consider this to say, a widely suppored team like Liverpool. These chances need to be taken..yet reflect on how blessed we are to have these moments.

    Would love to hear what you all think.

    Visca

    • Messiah10
      June 7, 2015

      Thank you for stating how fortunate we are. Think of the team you mentioned. Liverpool dominated the mid to late 70’s & early 80’s. They were the bench mark. Then came AC Milan in the 90’s. Look at both clubs now. A long way from being able to lift the CL trophy. When those clubs were dominating football their supporters probably didn’t anticipate the run of trophy less seasons & mediocrity. Maybe some supporters knew what they were witnessing & relished it. Hopefully, all of us do too.

  12. Miguel
    June 7, 2015

    100% jesus!

    • Davour
      June 7, 2015

      That’s about right – he is, after all, the air of the godly throne currently occupied by Messi (100% D10S…)

  13. agar2515
    June 7, 2015

    Im really glad this treble happened because in its pursuit we as a fanbase all seemed to come together.

    Let’s be real, since last season there have been many forms of “cynicule” not just the people that disapproved of Lucho at times this season.

    Just a sample of stuff I remember from last year to now:

    Pique was more interested in being a poker player and needed to be sold
    Messi was on the decline
    Selling Iniesta wasn’t unthinkable ( who was MOTM today?)
    Masche was a 2nd rate CB
    Rakatic is lacking the quality we need to replace Cesc ( He shows up in every big game, unlike Cesc)
    Stegen wasn’t good enough
    Suarez would see the club spiral into amorality, shaming ” mes que un club”
    Neymar would be another CR, a diva, unable to coexist
    Alves was toast, nothing but futile crosses left in him
    Jordi can’t defend
    Pedro just runs around like a headless chicken ( I dont rate him as highly as some but he does have his qualities)

    and on and on…

    • June 7, 2015

      Don’t forget the trending hashtag

      #luchoout

      I’m reminding you of it, because while not doubting the players, I did doubt the coach at one point. I remember asking whether Tata would fare badly with Suarez, 2nd year Neymar, Rakitic, etc.

      Goes to show why people like Lucho are paid the big bucks, while we are here discussing it 😀

  14. agar2515
    June 7, 2015

    Point being^ Im 99% at some point every person in here said or agreed with something that eventually was shown to be false. It happens. Life is better when we don’t turn on each other, talk down to each other, and so forth. We really needed this win, renewed all our spirits (imo), I feel nothing but joy right now.

  15. TITO
    June 7, 2015

    Do you feel there will be another CL trophy in Iniesta’s or Messi’s legs?

    • G6O
      June 7, 2015

      Most likely, possibly more than one in the case of Messi.

      Let’s see how next season goes

      The financial gap between the top 3-5 teams and everyone else has really opened up, which is why you see basically the same clubs in the semifinals year after year. And we’re one of them. So it’s more likely than not that we will be back in the final soon.

      We have to keep in mind how this CL win came to be – we basically paid $150 or whatever it actually is for Neymar and Suarez, and here we are. Which is not to denigrate the amazing job everyone has done – others paid even more but were not as smart with their targets. But the fact is that we were able to do it and not many are.

  16. Ivan Milicevic
    June 7, 2015

    Peo Guradiola – September 4, 2014

    “Of course he can match me at Barcelona, I think very highly of him. He will do a better job than I did,” Guardiola was quoted as saying by Sport.

    “It is important for Barcelona to have its own identity again, a philosophy that we all recognise. I think we will see just that under Luis Enrique.”

    http://goo.gl/JLf939

  17. Davour
    June 7, 2015

    Really happy for Iniesta to be chosen (deservedly) man of the match. He defended, held up the ball, passed, assisted, covered and dribbled like in the olden day, almost. Great game by the illusionist! Messi, to my mind, did not have a poor game; dominating in a CL-final against a formidabel midfield is a lot to ask. He looked pretty sweaty to me. He started the move for the first goal with a brilliant cross that we simply have become used to, made the run and shot for the second and had a few other moments of brilliance, despite suffering from bad touches on a few occasions. A final is a special game.

    Neymar showed up, Piqué dominated the air, Rak wasn’t flawless but useful as always, Busi a pendulum, Masch offered a mix of ups and downs, and so on… The players were good enough to make the team great.

  18. i_am
    June 7, 2015

    I actually think rakitic also deserved a man of the match award, in as much as iniesta was spectacular, it was also very nice to see rakitic going up to collect a medal with that wonderful smile, I’m really happy for he, Suarez and neymar(who has a great career ahead). I really wanted this champions League because of the three of them
    It was heart breaking to see pirlo in tears, he has been such a great footballer, maybe a little below xavi but really spectacular and has been a joy too watch. It would have also been nice if buffon got to win the trophy.

  19. Cyclops
    June 7, 2015

    So we’re still going for pogba ??
    Based on the game we’ve played against PSG and juventus, i’d take Marco verrati over Pogba anyday anytime…
    Oh and has anybody got any idea what Arturo vidal smoked before that match ??

    • G6O
      June 7, 2015

      Do not give up on Pogba so easily — the question isn’t how he looks playing against us but how we would play for us.

      I distinctly remember a certain game between Santos and Barcelona in 2011 that is very relevant to this discussion.

    • G6O
      June 7, 2015

      Which basically means Dani is 100% out.

  20. raj
    June 7, 2015

    I am so happy today. Not only because of the trophy but for Iniesta getting the man of the match.

    Him accepting the constrained role this season and losing the creative freedom for the sake of the defensive cause was always a pain for me personally, even as I understand the necessity and validity of it all. He along with Messi, of course, are the reason I watch the team. In fact, if Iniesta gets a chance to play a full-on creative role in any other club rather than another year of the defensive version he did this year, I won’t mind him leaving the club too for that opputunity. And I will start following that club along with Barcelona too. Something that is not in the realm of possibilities, I know. But you have to understand me, we are missing out on the best part of a once in a generation player like Iniesta. On the contrary, if Messi were to leave Barca, I won’t be able to bear it. This is the optimal setting for him to keep playing at his potential.

    And This video just gave me goosebumps. Watching Xavi and Pirlo talk about something and laugh, I just realized that there is way too much wisdom in that one screenshot than in the rest of the stadium (not just football wise either I reckon). Beauty. They are, what, 35 or 36 at most, it almost feels like they have seen everything there is to be seen between them in terms of football.
    http://www.totalbarca.com/2015/ex-barca-2/farewell-genuises/
    Though it is sad that they are going, they are going to become epic managers and produce players with their qualities (I already know it), so there is hope for the romantics among us.

  21. Aditya
    June 7, 2015

    Hi All,

    Been following this blog for a long time. Commenting here for the first time. I must say Kxevin, amazing articles :).

    It’s truly amazing to see the humbleness amongst our front 3, heck our whole team, just seems they want to tee each other up to score. ( something like after you ..after you 🙂 ). Lucho got all his rotations spot on. It’s sad to see XAVI leaving, but can’t think of a much better way to give fare well to a LEGEND.

    Guys, the discussion on this blog is amazing. Thanks to everyone for keeping the discussions level headed and healthy.

    And finally Visca Barca!!!!

  22. shzamiza
    June 8, 2015

    Does anyone have a link to the speeches at the camp nou but with English subs or an English voiceover? Would love to see that.

Comments are closed.