Today is everything. It has to be.

What do you believe in? What things in your life, aside from religion as the ultimate test of belief, fills you with a comviction that is unshakable?

What happened when that thing, that institution, let you down?

In not that many hours, Barça is going to try to do It again. The last home Champions League match, against PSG, the UEFA computers gave Barça a zero percent chance of advancing.

Zero.

Against Juventus, the odds are a lot more confidence-inspiring, at six percent.

Remuntada.

Every kid has that moment when they find out that there is no Santa, that Caga Tio didn’t poop those delights. One year, as a wee one, I wanted a weight set. Wanted to be big and strong, like Dad. My Mom woke me in the night and said, “Good news and bad news. You got your weights. There is no Santa. Now come down to the car and help me.”

At that moment, belief in one institution ended, and another began.

The world, right now, is a messed-up place. There is politics, and war, and strife, and strongmen brandishing nukes at each other as in other countries, life is about to change in significant ways.

But now, no matter where they are, culers will, for 90 minutes or more, gather to believe. Even those who claim not to have belief will, down in those corners of their psyche that they rarely visit, pull the cover from the flame, and have hope. Because week after week, sport does the impossible, restores our faith, allows us to hug, scream, exult and run around in life-affirming joy. Sport can move us because it is magic.

Barça will have to score at least four goals against the best defense in Europe. This isn’t PSG, with players who sat around pizza and discussed how worried they were, even with a 4-0 aggregate lead. This is Juventus, with defensive assassins, and that craggy, unassailable Godzilla of a keeper.

How in the hell is a remuntada supposed to happen? No idea. Sport is this thing that lets everyone get away. It doesn’t matter, so it can count for everything. It’s a series of moments that let you forget that everything in your life might suck — because you have your team.

You put on the shirt, maybe you paint your face as you try to recall the exact sequence of tasks that you performed the last time your team did the impossible. Same underwear, same shoes, same route to your local bar, where you explain to someone the necessity of your sitting in the seat that they presently occupy, because that is where you were sitting when It happened.

Nothing is left to chance.

When the ball is kicked, our hearts will leap and flutter. If you are culer, you won’t be able to help it. You will hope, and dream, and believe. Faith? As a subset of belief, you have faith in the best player in the game, faith that a diminutive Argentine legend, who would be the towel boy for real athletes except he becomes a colossus with a football at his feet, can do it, can elevate his teammates, give them enough opportunities to make you weep with joy. Again.

Faith and belief are all that we have. Politics, institutions, Santa let us down. Sport is an opportunity for renewed belief, a restoration of something magical. And it happens every week.

“See? I told you they could do it!”

Will it be this week? Will it be today? We all know that our belief is silly, that it doesn’t matter. But it’s all we have. Culers say “we” in discussing the team, because full support is being part of a collective, a psychic entity that is raw, vibrant and unreserved. Hate the board, hate the coach, hate this player or that player but when the whistle blows and that first ball is kicked, dammit, it’s Barça. And we, the collective, psychic organism, believe. We have hope, because that is all we can have, all that we can do.

We have to believe that our team will triumph, that we will triumph. We have to believe because that is all we can do, but it is everything. Sport crushes us when belief dies because emotion is a raw, vibrant, real thing.

Lord knows what is going to happen today, against Juventus. I believe that Barça will triumph. Again. Because that is the only option I have. When we stop believing in our teams, when supporters of a timy club stop packing the stands when the big club comes to town, something has died. It all stops being special when the possibility of magic goes.

We gather to hope and believe not because sport is life. Sport is our bulwark, no matter what life does. Don’t ever let that belief go. Force something to rip it from your hands and even then, grab for it, clutch at it, rail against reality.

All in. Remuntada. Let’s DO this.

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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.

24 Comments

  1. Rami
    April 19, 2017

    Damn you kevin, You got me pumped all and shaking all over again, My heart is racing now and we’re still 6 hours away from the whistle, What’s going to happen to me when it’s blown, Oh god.

    There is a movie quote that fits the spirit of what you just wrote, And i’ll to you guys to guess where it’s from

    “Hope is a good thing, Maybe the best of things, And no good thing ever dies.”

  2. amitojduggal
    April 19, 2017

    Thumbs up Kevin. Came to the blog to get some motivation and wasn’t disappointed.
    Tactics have to be spot on . LE has to show the world that all criticism he gets he has taken positively and improved upon . Matthieu is dropped rightly because of his performance in the first leg.

    I have a crazy wish but if we can play 4-1-2-3.
    Alba, pique, umtiti, Roberto.
    Busquets
    Messi and Iniesta
    Neymar Suarez Alcacer

    With this lineup Busquets will have to play the match of his life. Messi feeding in the front three. It will be kick-ass.

    Apart from this I just would like to sit and enjoy my heart beats and emotional fluctuations for 90 min and get absorbed in the game. rest will be history.

  3. April 19, 2017

    And here we go again.
    I’ve been a Barca supporter since the tender age of 16, ever since fate put me on a school trip to Barcelona and consequently a Camp Nou match. A heady Spring evening in 1996. I’ve seen some wonderful games, some great wins and emphatic losses.
    There have been plenty of barren years from then until now, sometimes with very little prospect of actually finishing in the top two in La Liga, let alone trebles and the like.
    Here we are again. Another significant aggregate score to turn on its head.
    The rational voice in my head is saying “no, it can’t and won’t happen again. Don’t do this to yourself, you should know better than to defy reason and scramble around in the courtyard of hope, delaying the inevitable.”
    I’ll go up the road to my local pub, order a pint of ale, and find myself a corner to watch the game nonetheless. That threadbare sliver of hope gnawing away somewhere in the recesses of my heart. All the best Barca kin, you will be in there watching it with me in spirit.
    Rational be damned!

    • RT
      April 19, 2017

      Your post made me smile Peter. Rational be damned, indeed!

  4. georgjorge
    April 19, 2017

    Thank you for this piece, Kxevin, and also a lot for the previous piece, which I just read. They are totally different – tonight is about believing against all odds, the previous piece was about letting go – but they are both brilliant.

    I will confess I don’t have faith for tonight’s match. The reason is not that we are three goals down against the best defensive side in Europe, but that it would be almost the same script as in the previous round, and lightning doesn’t hit the same spot twice. So to respect my unbelief but also leave some room for a sudden leap of faith I’m going to watch the first half at home, and if we haven’t conceded by then go down to the bar and go all-in ; )

  5. RT
    April 19, 2017

    Kevin, I love this entire piece but especially the last paragraph.
    I was trying to distance myself from this, not care too much, not hope too much. But it’s kind of impossible. So there’s no option but to go all in, and hope with all my heart.
    And thank you again, for your words.

  6. Jim
    April 19, 2017

    Well, I quite like us do far. We’ve had chances, we look up for it and at last we’re making a team work to press us. Still need to move the ball quicker and more playing to runners, especially Neymar, who, btw, if he makes it through the next 45 without another card will amaze me. Just watch Juve wind him up. We’re still a little static in their box.

    I give it ten minutes then I’m hitting the wine . . .

    • Jim
      April 19, 2017

      You have to say we’re giving our all. Damage done last game. Just hope that’s not a broken cheekbone for Messi.

  7. Rami
    April 19, 2017

    In the final minutes of the match, I didn’t have a barca flag in my house, So i just kept waving my hands in the air as if i had one, Until and beyond the final whistle, Because this team deserved to cheered.

    Força Barça!
    Força Barça!

  8. Davour
    April 19, 2017

    Thanks for the effort! Beautiful display at the Camp Nou by the audience. The team tried, but we were never close. One or two opportunities for Messi, at least one must be taken, but Chellini was quick on the first, and he became too eager for the second. No blame on him, though, since he created 9 out of 10 chances for himself and others. Suarez is not himself this season. We played well, but were way too slow in transition, always letting them recollect themselves. What happened to the break skills LE got so much credit for?

    Anyway – I hope Monaco will sweep them all away! For us, a Clasico without Neymar, a bruised Messi, and a dead tired team. Fuck it!

  9. ciaran
    April 19, 2017

    Proud of the team. Everyone gave their all. Unfortunately Suarez had a terrible match and couldn’t get anything right.
    Slightly disappointed with the substitutions because they didn’t improve us.
    Neymar was absolutely immense, and took the game by the scruff of the neck.
    The referee was very poor, looking afraid to show any bias towards us meaning he didn’t even give us the basic free kicks, let alone book the Juve players for their continuous indiscretions.

    Oh well, looking forward to Sunday

  10. April 19, 2017

    And there it is.
    Congratulations to Juventus, they were magnificent, from front to to back.
    Well played Barca, thank you for the immense effort. Hindsight floods in now, submerging me in my rational thoughts. “I never truly believed it”, and all that.
    The disappointment has a certain dullness to it, blunt even, mixed with a residue of pride.
    If only they could have played with the same intensity in the first game, then they certainly wouldn’t have needed three goals.
    Anyway.
    I wouldn’t begrudge Juve the semi finals. They deserve it. Good luck to them.
    And off we go into the night, with our thought, our wonders and our what-ifs…
    maybe next year?

  11. Tata2
    April 19, 2017

    Eliminate Barca only to go and gift EE the trophy. Barca had enough chances in both legs to give this tie a different outcome, just poor finishing. EE will cross all night and Ronaldo will get atleast one in. Then if that fails to work, ref will step in and give a red card and award offside goals as much as is required. Just want this season to be over as soon as possible.

    • Rami
      April 19, 2017

      Word of advice, Don’t carry the emotional burden of two teams.

      We as supporters of barca are already emotionally burdened enough with our own team, And it still can take it’s toll on us, The sad parts are a b**ch
      But to add more weight to oneself, And having to worry about the results of another team is just asking for more misery.

      Yes, I know they are the evil empire, Yes I know it’s much easier said than done, But that’s just the healthy way, Try it.

      Do what i just did, Feel proud of team for the effort and soul they put tonight, And have the faith in that they’ll fight for la liga until the last second, As for EE, The hell with them, I don’t care to know what happens with them.

      • RT
        April 19, 2017

        Solid advice Rami, I’ll try to take it!
        I loved how the Camp Nou supported the team in the end, it was beautiful and a lesson in how to support your team. I can’t bring myself to blame any of the players, I really think they have tried their best in the end, with all that is going on – some things we know about and some things we really don’t!

    • georgjorge
      April 20, 2017

      Didn’t Juventus actually beat RM in the Champions League semifinals two years ago? Why would they ever gift EE a game? Don’t let your anger bring you down.

  12. omoh
    April 19, 2017

    I don’t think I’ve ever been proud of Barca like this when getting dumped out of CL.

    Though I should be hurting but I find peace in the fact that we did the REMUNTADA. Damn it felt like a trophy.

    For years and maybe decades to come, it will be a record most teams will try and fail to break not only in the CL but in every football competition being played around the world.

    Liverpool’s 2005 turn around took a little over a decade to be over shadowed by Barca. I am confident this will take well more than a decade to be over shadowed.

    Next is how to win the classico bragging rights before the new project starts. I hope Enrique wins his last classico in charge.

    • RT
      April 19, 2017

      Well this made me feel better. 🙂
      In the list of epic things that have happened in football, the remuntada is definitely up there.

  13. luisthebeast
    April 19, 2017

    There is really something wrong inside the team.
    Oh and dont forget to make the master of set pieces Unzue next coach.We could won 45 corners and never do anything with that.
    Also our midfielders this season must have a record of goals and assists.They are all the time in box creating danger.
    Turan is still injured i guess,from the moment he was playing good and had a chance to break to start eleven,something happened…weird things.
    I will not say more,i am sure there are a lot of things we dont know happening inside.

  14. Víctor
    April 19, 2017

    I felt it was entirely possible. Even when we stayed 0-0 after the first half and everyone was like “Juventus has only received 2 goals in the entire tournament and now Barça has to score at least 3 against them in 45 minutes”, even then I believed that it was possible. It didn’t happen.

    This time, the “logical and rational” thing happened. Either way, glad to see that the team gave their best to make it happen. Not success tonight, but it doesn’t matter, because we all know that these players do care, they have that ambition and that desire to win-it-all. They made a miracle happen against PSG, and even when “logic” told us that repeating that kind of miracle was ridicolous, they made us believe against logic and rightfully so, this team has showed us that they can do things beyond the “realm of logic and statistics”.

    No regrets and let’s hope that they go totally focused and mentally prepared to defeat RM at their stadium.

    Congrats to Juventus, they managed to keep us scoreless in two games. That’s no small feat. Even if you consider that our attacking potential has diminished somewhat. I hope they do win the CL. Either them or Monaco.

    • georgjorge
      April 20, 2017

      Our performance yesterday was indeed very good, every player was giving everything and making the right decisions most of the time. If the team (and the Camp Nou audience) needs to go out of the Champions League, that’s the way to do it.

      I would guess that against every team in the world except for a few yesterday’s performance would have seen us score two, maybe three goals. Unfortunately, Juve is the best team in the world at defending right now. A Juventus fan said to me before the game that the difference to the PSG return game was that while PSG was uncomfortable with being pinned back and seeing little of the ball, Juve would thrive under these conditions. He was spot on.

      We will now win the Clásico (the team is tired, but so is RM after having played 120 minutes) and have RM earn their league title if they want it. Or we will not win the Clásico, but I’ll still remember this season fondly for the insanity that was the return leg against PSG.

      Either way, whoever comes in after Lucho will have to make some big changes after a not-too-good overall season and with Iniesta nearing retirement. I hope that Neymar will still be part of the squad next season, and that one of our promising young midfielders will eventually come good. It will all be exciting.

  15. luisthebeast
    April 19, 2017

    But yeah i am happy,the board now will wait the clasico to see who our next coach will be.
    Thanks god we have that great board with their great plans.
    Maybe if we made another proud perfomance,proud Unzue will be our proud next coach.

  16. luisthebeast
    April 19, 2017

    And Lucho said the summer “i have a great squad” and in April make 1 sub in games.
    2017 and we play the same squad as 2015 but without a RB.
    Only genius people could have fucked up so bad our team.
    Good job.

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