Champions League Monday

Every week, every Monday, people roll into the work week with this grim anticipation of five stinkin’ days until the weekend. Monday is the first. It’s Monday. UGH.

My take on Mondays is that it starts a fresh work week, and begins a series of opportunities to be better than before, renewed chances for growth, learning and change. In other words, I’m one of those assholes.

As Barça begins another Champions League go-round today, away to Dortmund, it’s safe to say the mood in the culerverse, after a series of setbacks that predate the collapses at Anfield and Rome, is bleak.

But here’s why we should all be heartened, why we should all treat this first Champions League day as a new Monday: it’s a new day.

Think of the crappiest day that you’ve ever had, and what happened the day after. The sun came up, you were alive. The world was different, but the process of recovering, of coming out had begun with something as simple as getting out of bed. The rest took time, but you got there.

Consider what might have happened had you just stayed in bed, said, “Screw it,” wallowed in your misery until you and the bedcoverings became one, pillows sodden with sweat and tears that you just lay there and soaked in, because what else is there, was there. There is only this misery, this moment in time from which there is no way back.

But the weird thing about life is that it affords us a succession of Mondays, new opportunities to be something different, something better, to recover from something crappy. Like so many, I have been through awful days at work, divorce, death, illness, injury. The cycle is the same: disbelief, recrimination, acceptance, grief, recovery. Whether a breakup or bouncing on my ass at 45 mph, the questions are always the same:

— How did this happen?
— How could I been so stupid. If only I had …
— Let’s see how bad this thing is …
— That’s feeling a bit better. This might be okay?

After each setback, many of us resolve to be better about it, to begin at the end and skip the other four steps, but we never do. The cycle is immutable, as much a part of life as breathing. So is empathy. Imagine being one of the players. Imagine changing clothes, going to the bus, flying home to friends and family. Some of them would ask “What happened?” Some would just hug you, or leave you be to sit in a darkened room to sort it all, the detritus of everything that you worked for, shattered into pieces coated in your own failure.

Those players got up, trained, worked, played more matches, had an off season, worked some more, and have come to this point, the new Champions League season, another Monday. They tried letting a previous failure define them at Anfield, as Pique said that Rome came flooding back into their memories as Liverpool mounted the comeback. So they try something different, and play on.

What are we going to do?

This early season has been exciting, one of the most exciting in recent memory because of all the hope. Messi was injured, then Suarez, then Dembele, and we freaked out. All of the hope contained in the new signings evaporated into despair. Then came rays of light to disperse the gloom. Frenkie De Jong sparkled at times, with glimpses of what was to come. Carles Perez worked, ran and ran some more, Masia provenance defining his art. Griezmann flitted and flicked, possessed of this weird quality of knowing what do with the ball when he got it, and it’s beautiful to watch. And then, this weekend, Ansu Fati exploded into glorious, vibrant hues like a Blaugrana glitter bomb. And Messi is back, training videos of him breaking ankles and dreams to give us even more delight.

So much has happened to bring joy, to disperse the gloom, to make us believe that this season is something different. It obviously has to be because it is a new season, but that it won’t be more of the same. If we don’t believe that, what’s the point? Why watch? Why bother? The players have gotten in shape, gotten ready, showed up to get things done. The new guys don’t care what has happened before. They’re ready to write their own histories with the team.

Personally, my interest in last season ended with the last kick of the ball, dissolved in a steadfast notion that misery will never define me. This season, this Champions League season is exciting, another year where expectation is high, where the best team in Europe has an excellent chance to hoist that glittering bauble again. What other choice is there but to have the same belief that the players have, that the coaches have?

So it’s Monday, a new shot to do great things. It starts at Dortmund, and we all get to see how it ends. Let’s do this.

By Kxevin

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.