Sometimes, I feel as though we play like this. Not always in the sense of this futility, but in the planned intricacy, the desperate high-wire act necessary to make our mojo happen. It’s like setting up a castell of midgets with an arch underneath for the littlest, and most talented one to run through while dribbling.
Hellz yeah, it worked …. this time.
There are times when I wonder about things. This video sums up my views on such matters, and the magic of our past season(s). So I Tweeted the aka bit this morning, and got some interesting responses. Then, in the afternoon, up popped an excellent piece from Brian Phillips over at Run of Play, wondering the very same thing.
And please understand, I don’t wish any doom upon the club or its players, nor am I the kid who prolongs consumption of the piece of cake for as long as possible, so as to savor every bite, even as he dreads the arrival of that last forkful. It doesn’t, after all, symbolize something lovely to be savored if you’re that kid, but rather that the cake is no more.
If we look at this season and its magic, a remarkable run that began with the triplete in 2009, some things start to rear their heads in looking at how truly magical this club has been.
It began with some remarkable injury luck the season of the treble, as well as fit, rested players who didn’t have to play a darned thing, not a single pre-season tournament or Super-anything. And we saw the results.
The luck continued last season, even if our UEFA/UNICEF/Barca cabal broke down, which was the only thing keeping us from moving along to (and probably winning) a second Champions League crown.
It is this season that makes us start to, if not worry, begin to wonder about the ebbs and flows of tides. For every high tide comes low tide, right?
–Adriano and Maxwell’s simultaneous injuries
–Krkic’s knee injury
–Pedro’s back injury
And so on. Who knew that Iniesta would be our iron man this season?
You go to see the Flying Wallendas, and you don’t think about how it happens, how scary the trick is, how much work is required to make it all look effortless. Perhaps if we realized that those folks were one wrong hand position away from tragedy, it would convert our sense of enjoyment into one of shamed ghoulishness.
After launching into a brilliant first half of the Liga season, with goals galore and as many accolades to match, the second half of the season found fatigue catching up with us, and teams beginning to get the hints of figuring out how to play against us. If you look at almost any of our goals this season, there’s craziness afoot. Inch-perfect passes, flawless control, balls bouncing the exact right way, etc. Yes, the luck is made by brilliance, to be sure. But sometimes, it’s just luck.
And luck can go away, as surely as it comes in this game of millimeters. So the mind naturally turns to the state of our intricate house of sporting cards.
Some say that with a few of the right signings and a conga line of immensely talented young’uns (Thiago, Rafa, Deulofeu, Fontas, Dos Santos, Montoya, Bartra, etc.), we’re a dynasty. The core of the first team is young, with the exception of role players such as Keita, and the irreplacable Xavi and Puyol.
Others say that age is catching up to us, just as other teams are. We lost the Copa final, and Guardiola’s intense, high-pressure act wears on player fitness and nerves, just as Helenio Herrera’s short tenure started blazingly and ended with him leaving a mentally and physically fatigued team.
And what happens after Guardiola leaves, and the players that make our dreams come true week after week, are injured/sold/become behavior problems/etc/etc? Our future as a very good team is secure. But as Mr. Phillips writes:
But Barcelona hasn’t just been a very good team over the last three seasons. It’s been an otherworldly team, one of those possibility-expanding, fourth-dimension miracles that occasionally bless the world of sports.
Which is so true. Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls won six NBA championships in a dazzling, at times gritty and contentious, but always entertaining way. Peyton Manning’s Indianapolis Colts kicked butt and took names during a glorious period in which they were mostly unstoppable, finally nabbing a championship against the Chicago Bears, a team that in 1985, had destiny written all over it when it annihilated the New England Patriots, a team that was looking like a for-real dynasty, but is now just a few aging, potentially gimpy players away from being a merely good team.
So not to sound maudllin, but enjoy this club. Enjoy Saturday’s match. Record it, burn it to DVD as so many of us did the manita, commit it to memory, revel in it, win or lose. There will be moments of unsurpassed grace, Messi runs, Xavi passes, Iniesta’s shambling runs into the opposition box.
If we win, it will be the crowning achievement of a side that can’t have many of these kinds of season left in it. If we lose, it’s still a paean to excellence, a club that has been to 3 Champions League finals in 5 years, one that was soooo close to 4.
Strangely, and once again this season, I’m not particularly stressed about a big match. But this time, it isn’t because it’s only the Plat del Reig. Rather, it’s because of teams, like people, having life cycles. Part of my belief system is that rather than mourning death, you celebrate life. And this team’s life, for however much longer it lasts, has been glorious.
And however much we worry about losing, and falling off the top of pyramid, isn’t that gloriousness enough?