Monday, February 21, 2011

An Interesting Take on Barca's Game

Ran into this article at Football 365.com
It's a great look at the other side of this Bara-worshipping bandwagon.
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The original article is here
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Sorry, But Barca Bore Me To Death...
by John Nicholson
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As I watched the Arsenal-Barcelona game, I realised something; it was a heinous thought; something blasphemous, something considered evil in the world of football. It is this: I really get bored of watching Barcelona play and I'm always delighted when they are beaten.
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I know it's a football heresy to say that, but I just get restless while watching their endless bloody passing, as skilful and intricate as it might be. It's all too much. Do something else, boys, please. How ironic that you were beaten by a side that aspires to do likewise but who were victorious by shafting you with pace and direct play: the very things that the Catalan perfectionists lack.
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I find myself admiring them, the way I might admire a mathematics professor who can illustrate something with a number of perfectly expressed equations; intellectually I know it's brilliant but it doesn't move my soul.
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I appreciate Barca's football, I really do; I can see that it's clever and a master-class in the art form of passing and control; I can see exactly why people wet themselves over their play. But I don't care. To me, it just gets tedious after ten minutes.
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It's too one-dimensional. It's the pass-and-move equivalent of the long-ball team who just hoofs it because they have no other style of play. They can't do anything else other than fanny around a lot and try to pass through sides and we saw at the end of the game how this has actually become a limiting constraint. They couldn't respond in any other way to going behind with the clock running down and were still knocking it around the midfield as though still winning 1-0.
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It was the same against Inter last year - once Mourinho had worked out how to close them down, they had nothing else to offer. Admittedly, closing them down for 90 minutes is a hell of a task but Inter managed. They snuffed out the Barca flame because without the oxygen of being allowed to pass it to death, the flame flickers and dies quite quickly. Indeed, they looked especially impotent for large amounts of those two ties.
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I realise they're very good at this style of game, so why should they develop any other? Fair enough, I'm not saying they should, but surely I'm not alone in feeling that it doesn't stir the blood. It doesn't make your nostrils flare, it is somehow rather soulless for all its cleverness and technical class.
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Their lack of physicality robs football of one of its most attractive aspects. I got more joy from seeing Gennaro Gattuso going ballistic the previous night than any amount of watching Barcelona pass incisively. That's because I want football to engage the more visceral emotions, the more primal instincts as well as the more intellectual, aesthetic ones. Too often, Barcelona's football appears a more neutered form of the game - which I totally understand is exactly why some people like it - but is absolutely why it tends to bore me.
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And there is one more reason that I find myself not just bored but somewhat annoyed by Barcelona. It's because there is a certain kind of football fan - and we all know them or see them - who considers this the ultimate form of football; that is somehow the perfect expression of the game. Wrong. It is the perfect expression of THIS kind of football. It is not the only way to play, it isn't even the most successful way to play in the Champions League. It's like saying the only way to paint is like John Constable. Well I bloody don't like Constable, I'm more of a Paul Klee man myself.
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You might like this kind of football, but it's simply one dish at football's dinner table, it is not the whole menu. With this attitude towards supposed Catalan perfection comes a snobbery; as though to not consider Barca as perfect is to be anti-football, to be, by extension, ignorant and crude. Bollocks to that. I loath that kind of elitism. This is why you see so many blokes in Barcelona shirts. They think that by wearing it, they are saying something about themselves that they appreciate 'good' football, not that brutal, aggressive, brutish game that the common folk love.
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I admit I am an ornery sod but surely I'm not the only one who gets bored of watching some little fellas passing the ball intricately for ten minutes without much happening while the opposition stand off them slack-jawed in awe of their technique. I'd love Arsenal to beat them again by using their skill, their pace, some direct running and some physicality because it would shut up all those self-regarding purists who witter on about Barcelona's perfection and it might convince Wenger that trying to copy them wholesale is not an exercise in virtue nor necessarily in success. Surely last night proved that once and for all.

2 comments:

  1. i totally agree with your view of barca's play. they have control of the ball for 60 to 80 percent of the games but they have 10 shots on goal, if someone actually counts how many of those passes go forward to the ones that go backwards you will find that over half of them are going back. i see plays were they are in the opp box and they start going back and it end at valdes and then to the other side. the sad part is other teams are starting to play this boring game because they are making it successful

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  2. This article and others like it remind me of when I was a young kid. I used to play soccer with my uncle in our front yard. He always had control of the ball, and on the rare occasion that i was able to steal it from him, he just got it right back. it was truly boring for me after a while. :)

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