I hate Barcelona Football Club. I hate their players. I hate their style and their tactics. I hate their fans. And I hate all of those ‘experts’ who try to validate their own knowledge of the game by comparing every other team to the glowing example of modern football that is Le Catalans.
I’m not “jealous”. Don’t go throwing your petty, immature insults at me: Hear me out. I respect the success that Barcelona has had and continues to have. They are the best team in the world at the moment. I know this and you know this. The problem is that they know it too. They’ve won 3 league titles, 2 domestic cups and 2 European titles in 4 years with their high pressing, slow building tiki taka style of play. They’ve become the self- appointed world leaders of this revolutionary brand of total football. Like the rulers of some cult. Every second grassroots club team tries to emulate them and it’s ruining football. The reason Barcelona can pull this off is because they have two brilliant midfield visionaries and arguably the best finisher in the game. Unlike so many cheap imitators (read: Arsenal), Barcelona are actually capable of keeping the ball for 60-70 minutes a game and this is the foundation of their success. Each time they lose the ball, they press like crazy to win it back, which they can afford to do because it’s the only 20 minutes of effort they have to give each game. They get the opposition into a strangle hold, forcing them back deep into their own half, and then, instead of tightening their grip around the jugular and fatally cutting off the airflow with a few quick goals, they keep them in that submissive position for so long that they eventually die of boredom. Pass the ball around for 20 minutes, then capitalise on the first mistake with a highlight reel through ball to Messi for the opener. Repeat 3-4 times and go home. It’s a bully tactic. It’s the footballing equivalent of stealing the fat kid’s hat and holding it ever so slightly out of his reach.
It’s still a great strategy, the perfect one for this team, but it is impossible to replicate. Thus Swansea will never win a European Cup. Sadly, tiki taka has been adopted as the epitome of sporting flair and beauty, though it’s a benchmark that only Barcelona can reach. Cue an innumerable amount of bandwagon fans and self-righteousness and pretention. The bandwagon jumpers cannot be helped. As a Manchester United fan, I’ve known more than a few of them (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE!). It’s the holier-than-thou attitude of the club that I hate. The way that Barcelona expects to win every game not because of their superior ability but because it is their God-given right as the purveyors of The Beautiful Game. To beat them would be sacrilege (Let us now cast stones at the heretics of AC Milan). Maybe people have said the same thing about Man United, but I’ve always felt that Sir Alex kept them grounded. The arrogance of Barcelona extends beyond the field, too. Like the Fabregas transfer, where Arsenal were publically harassed into selling their captain so that he could pick the splinters out of his behind on the Barcelona bench. Or the pompous UNICEF jersey-sponsorship deal (real charity needs no such publicity), where Barca donated a certain amount of proceeds to the charity because, after all, they are the most generous, sympathetic and altruistic force in football since Jesus played goalie for Jerusalem. Of course, this deal has since been replaced with new sponsorship from the nation of Qatar. Yes, Barcelona is now being funded by oil money. I don’t think that it’s a stretch to call this team the Bono of world football. There’s a word for people and clubs like these. And it rhymes with oil tankers.
Now, I could try and taint the legacy and achievements of Barcelona Football Club by bemoaning the absolute lack of depth in La Liga, how nobody tackles in Spain, hence Master Messi has hardly been injured in his entire career, and Barcelona can comfortably pass the ball around without worrying about any vigilante reproach. I could make a valid argument that Lionel Messi is well inferior to a certain C. Ronaldo. I could go into great detail about their shaky defence, so often spared due to the mere scraps of possession that opposition teams are left with after Barcelona finish passing and backheeling and running sideways and patting each other on the back. But I won’t. Because I am bigger than that. These people make me sick.