Of Tomorrow and Onwards

It’s been a weird year. I’ve had a fair few experiences, some of which I hope have left me wiser and all of which have left me older. There’s the general idea out there that 2016 was a banner year for Horrible Things, which certainly feels true when it’s put in listicle or Wikipedia entry format, but someone out there has to be having The Best Year Ever and doesn’t know what all the fuss is about on Twitter. Beyond that, I’m sure someone crowed at the sky when Real Madrid won the Champions League in May, voted for Brexit in June, and then had a social media strop about the Catalan independence movement in July. That may feel weird to read (much less write), but I bet it’s true of at least one person.

This is a massively interconnected world and someone sitting about 8 hours on an airplane from a stadium in northern Spain can have a decently informed opinion about the inner workings of what is, despite its rather commercial image, a fairly local club. Not that I do have an informed opinion, but it’s at least theoretically possible that I do. It’s neat, insofar as I’ve run a blog about the beautiful sport I bumped into one day in high school and fell in love with almost immediately despite my relatively recent arrival on its doorstep, my physical remove from the team I follow, and the relentless intricacy of modern sporting enterprises that loop endlessly through scouting reports, sponsorship deals with various conglomerates, boardroom political shenanigans, and, if you’re lucky, actual game footage sprinkled in occasionally.

Some days I wake up and the second though I have—the first is always dedicated to finding a way to ignore my humanoid alarm clock’s remonstrations about how I’m not getting up to provide her breakfast—is what team Barça is playing or what a great set of goals that was yesterday, I can’t wait to see the highlights again. Some days I wake up and I wonder why any of us care about 22 men on a field kicking a ball around. Some days I wake up and my heart is just ready to start pounding and my blood is trying to stream through my veins fast enough to make a race horse keel over all because those 22 men are about to kick a ball around a field. Sometimes I want to close my eyes and see almost anything other than goalscoring charts and tactical formations.

Our hypothetical Brexitonian madridista is as much a product of this new world as I am and maybe he or she is at home (hopefully asleep given the time difference) not really getting into the mood yet, but knowing that tomorrow will bring something spectacular, whatever the end result. It’s the possibility that resounds in moments like that: it could all be okay tomorrow. And maybe it will be. Though maybe it’s just a game that we play, with ourselves as much as any other way. Or maybe, as we breath out, we really are just a little bit more prepared for the terrible things that happen in our world and maybe that mental space, that escape into something else, gives us the will and the willingness to do something to turn terrible into terrific.

And so, we reach tomorrow, eventually, whether we want to or not. The question, really, is whether or not we face it with fear. And I choose not to. I choose to go to sleep tonight with a normal heart rate and get up tomorrow, put on my blue and red striped shirt, my blue and red striped scarf, my blue and red striped jacket, my blue and red striped hat, and a pair of jeans, and go enjoy myself in the company of friends, without fear. I’ll also probably wear shoes and socks. And unless I planned this really poorly, blue and white striped underwear.

It’s gonna be a spectacle, if nothing else. Buckle up.

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Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater New York City area with his wife and daughter.

16 Comments

  1. georgjorge
    December 3, 2016

    Thanks for this.

    I’m going to arrive for Clásico viewing at my favorite Catalan bar straight from a children’s birthday party. I really hope the game will turn out to be the more enjoyable of the two events.

  2. Jim
    December 3, 2016

    Team for today :

    Barca line-up vs Madrid: Ter Stegen, Roberto Pique, Mascherano, Alba, Gomes, Busquets, Rakitic, Messi, Suarez, Neymar

    Well, at least it’s good that Iniesta isn’t on from the start. No way you can pitch him into the start of a Clasico and you create a great moment when he comes on ten minutes into the second half. Leaves us a bit short of class in the midfield but I’m more worried about the defence. For the life of me I can’t understand Masche in front of Umtiti. Hope Pique is genuinely better and not just strapped up. Here’s hoping for the best. They’ve got a couple missing as well so you’d have to fancy us with a half decent performance.

  3. barca96
    December 3, 2016

    I am wearing the 2010-11 jersey. I hope it’s the same outcome as back then where Barca came into the match as underdogs. And you know how it went.

  4. Davour
    December 3, 2016

    Pretty even first half, though RM much more dangerous when getting close to goal. Rakitic improved. Sloppy final pass, even by the great. Suarez slightly improved, but still far from his best. It doesn’t work yet, but it’s perhaps getting there. I would like to hail Modric – by far best player of first half; reading the game overall, half man-marking Messi AND initiates attacks. Impressive.

    Hoping for Iniesta in the 2nd half. Gomes a bit improved, but can’t impose himself. A few good moments winning headers.

  5. TITO
    December 3, 2016

    No matter how it ends.
    This first half just proves that we are in “deep” shit for the moment. Absolutely clueless.
    To bad that only 3 players can be substituted. A bunch of them are offering nothing.

  6. Davour
    December 3, 2016

    Well, easy to summarize this:

    I love Iniesta. Messi shone with happiness every time he looked up and saw the maestro.
    I hate Ramos.
    Arda should take it easy when defending against a player with his back against the goal and in no danger zone.
    Whole team: buy new studs.
    Messi and Neymar, practice finishing.

    Gutted, after that wonderful second half.

    • Anders
      December 3, 2016

      At least we didn’t extend the gap to the top. A win would have made the situation a lot easier, but with 24 games remaining it is absolutely possible to overtake them. Especially since we saw some of the play that has been missing so dearly when Iniesta came on.

    • Davour
      December 3, 2016

      It is certainly possible. Though, mentally more than point wise, a win would have been so important – both to boost us, as to break Zidane’s non losing streak and instill the “oh no not this season too”-mentality in the RM players. Now it will be – “phew, that was close, but this shows things will work out for us!”

      And yes, Ini’s return is key. Might leave Messi to focus more on attack higher up the pitch; obviously he is no longer used to being in such situations, RECEIVING through balls, instead of offering them to others.

  7. TITO
    December 3, 2016

    Not happy at all. I mean, what more do you need to get back into the title race when they are coming to your town and they lead the league by six points. Wtf, they even came without Kross and Bale which mean a lot for them.
    And we play it safe, clearly with a fear in the players mind not to lose this game. I dont get it. We have all the experience of this world, talent, titles…why the fear? I would rather have a go at them and show them who the boss is than try not.to lose and in the end we are at the same point as before the game.
    Iniesta makes the difference, no doubt about that. But we had to be more direct, clinical, ruthless and run more. The biggest issue remains to be our midfield.
    It’s strange, with Busi, Arda, Rakitic, D. Suarez, Gomes, Rafinha to have such problems in midfield it’s really strange.
    And, i fuckig knew it the second Arda made that foul that they will score, i even told my son that we are screwed.

    • Davour
      December 3, 2016

      It’s unfortunate, but, if we are lucky, it can be a turning point. Gomes looked a little better, and Iniesta was immense, as was Busi. In a sense it comes down to the fact that MSN did not score one goal each, as should have been. Neymar’s was more open but Messi should do better (though he had a decent game overall, but not brilliant).

      And, really – the balls on LE subbing on Arda after last years blushes. He must take part of the blame – Arda seldom makes anyone happy as CM. Though, Arda must face the music for not keeping his calm. To me, he does not have mind to play for Barca, and bar some decent outings during friendlies, mostly, I see nothing from him. Denis should have been the one. And Rafinha must really, really, cover himself with shit during trainings.

  8. TITO
    December 3, 2016

    And, there’s no glory if you don’t take risks.

  9. barca96
    December 3, 2016

    I think it’s high time for Umtiti to take over Mascherano’s spot now. He’s not getting younger and mistakes aren’t slowing down. He could’ve given Madrid 2 penalties and it was him who lost Ramos for the goal.

    I love him. I think he’s the real captain of the team but he’s a liability. I prefer a calmer head in Umtiti and someone who can defend aerial balls. It’s time for Umtiti to cement the LCB position. I would like Mascherano to be the 3rd option CB, even next season.

    • Davour
      December 3, 2016

      To be fair, Umtiti has looked set to replace Masch, but has been halted by two injuries. Has played when fit, and probably will again.

  10. PPos
    December 3, 2016

    I had an eerie feeling when Turan came on. I repeatedly told myself “he’s not the same as last season” but he proved me wrong. That’s two clásicos in a row that Turan comes on and screws the pooch. This was our chance. And we didn’t take it. Ney and Messi let us down with the finishing. Iniesta was a breath of fresh air. We looked way more dangerous with him on the pitch. It’s sucks not being able to cut the lead to three. We were 3 minutes away from doing so but that’s football. It’s unfair like life. Madrid is the kind of team that you have to kill early and well. They’re the luckiest team around I swear. When they are losing, they tie or win last minute. I wonder if not winning la liga is going to push Messi out of Barcelona. I hope he renews his contract but it’s looking really iffy right now. I don’t know if Madrid will drop points. But I think we are due for some radical change or something. Something feels wrong

  11. Tata2
    December 3, 2016

    When I saw Turan coming on as CM, I said to myself, ” Shit! we are doomed” and it did happen. LE got his subs terribly wrong. Yes Ney and Messi missed chances but when you know EE are going to resort to crosses, why not bring on Umtiti for Ney instead of Dennis Suarez or better yet, Suarez minor for Gomes and Umtiti for Ney?. There’s no shame in parking a bus for the last 10mins and playing. Really disappointed in LE for making the wrong subs

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