La Liga Weekly

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Simon Heptinstall On September - 26 - 2012

Barcelona : What Would Success Mean This Season?

To be in the defining club and national sides of your generation is a rare thing in football. But for certain players at Barcelona they have joined an elite group of footballers as the dominate force of a generation in both forms of the game. Has there ever been a national team to dominate football like Spain has in the last few years? And to combined that with possibly the greatest club side ever, certainly of the past decade at least, is something truly special indeed. With the likes of Pique, Puyol, Villa, Fabregas, Valdes and Iniesta they are part of something that perhaps has never been seen before.

Spain didn’t dominate international football in the 1950’s when Real Madrid ruled all before them. And despite the huge success of Ajax in the 1970’s, Holland never did win a World Cup. So what would success mean this season for Barcelona and their players that have already redefined football in so many ways?

Barcelona started this season under new management. With the departure of Pep Guardiola , up stepped Tito Vilanova to replace him. And with a near identical squad (the addition of Alex Song from Arsenal, Jodi Alba from Valencia and the return from David Villa aside) from last season, and a manager schooled in the traditions of Barcelona, there was never going to be a massive change in style. Their first test was Real Madrid in the Super Cup. And it was one that they failed, though mainly due to a massive error by Victor Valdes in goals. Since then, Barcelona have been perfect. With four wins out of four in the league (and a massive eight point lead over Real Madrid) and a winning start in the Champions League, Barcelona are already on the right track this season. And while it’s still very early on in the season, Barcelona’s dominant start, in the league especially, has helped ease the transition of power at the Catalan club.

With such a large lead already established in La Liga, and having won neither of the big prizes in football last season, Barcelona and Tito Vilanova find themselves in a position that they have not been used to in recent years. They are the challengers. Barcelona must regroup and try and win back the trophies that they have claimed so often in the past decade. And without the added distraction of playing in the Club World Cup or European Super Cup, Barcelona have been able to get back to the bread and butter of the league. And even though the season is still in its infancy, Barcelona are surely on course to reclaiming the league title and snatching it back from very bitter rivals in Madrid.

As for the Champions League, as always that is far harder to predict. And the main reason for that is that it’s not always about the best team. In a league campaign where everyone plays everyone else home and away, it’s almost always the case that the best team wins. Barcelona may argue they were still a better team than Real Madrid last season but the facts speak for themselves. Real Madrid were Spanish champions last seasons because they deserved it. Were Chelsea, the team who finished sixth in England, the best team in Europe last season? Probably not. Were Monaco and Porto the two best teams in Europe when those two faced each other in the final back in 2004? Again probably not. But if you can get into a habit of grinding out results over the course of two legs then you have a chance of winning Europe’s biggest prize. Only time will tell if the new man in charge can lead Barcelona to victory in the tournament that surely means the most to all Catalans. It is also worth noting that Barcelona’s last two European triumphs have come about in odd numbered years (09 and 11). Is 2013, at their second home of Wembley Stadium, the next for Barcelona? We shall just have to wait and see.

So, back to the question of “what would success mean this time around?” This is a chance to not only show that Barcelona can be winners without Guardiola, but that they are still the Kings of football. With Real Madrid faltering in the league, now is the time for Barcelona to press home the advantage by keeping the wins coming.

If Barcelona are to continue to be the high point of footballing excellence, then now is the time to show it. Barcelona need success this season and I’m sure everyone at the club knows it. With Xavi and Puyol not getting any younger it may be one of their last chances to reclaim the Champions League and leave another golden chapter written in their legacies. Time will tell how this current Barcelona squad will do this season and in the future time will tell how this Barcelona generation will be remembered in relation to the past great sides. But for the now, Barcelona need to keep winning. Unlike other teams who play beautiful football, success is not an option but a requirement for Barcelona. Winning is a habit and one that is better to keep repeating than to have to go searching years for. And with Real Madrid the current Kings of Spain and clubs such as Man City and PSG only growing stronger by the year due to their enormous wealth, Barcelona need to show who the best team in the world still are or face the prospect of simply becoming just another big contender rather than the undisputed champion. What does success mean to Barcelona this time season? It could be argued that success this season means more than in any other in the recent past. Now is the time to reclaim what was once there’s. Now is the time to bring success back to Catalan.

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