Barcelona travel to San Siro to face AC Milan in what will be another glamorous night of Champions league football. So before watching the game, here is an article to refresh your thoughts on FC Barcelona.
Spain is one of the most successful football nations in recent time and the arrow points undoubtedly in the direction of metropolitan Barcelona. Few can argue against the success of Football Club Barcelona. The towering stadium, Camp Nou, stands as the perfect symbol of the respect this club receives, both nationally and internationally. Indeed in massive letters on the seat of Camp Nou is written “Més que un club” – More than a club; and Barcelona is without a doubt one of the most famous franchises in the world.
Barcelona was founded back in 1899 and has an awe-inspiring amount of trophies to show. No less that 21 times has the team won the Spanish championship (La Liga), and 26 cup titles (Copa del Rey). This trophy-hungry football kingdom has also slain the UEFA Champions League on four occasions. And the history of the club is something they are proud of indeed – and the club shows it off in manner with one of the largest museums in Europe containing more than 1,000 club items including statues of some of the remarkable players of the past. It may come as a surprise to some that the museum is the most visited of its kind in the whole city of Barcelona.
The most notable time in the team’s history is during the ‘dream team’-era. That’s the not-so- humble name of the years when Dutch ex-player Johan Cruyff was in charge in the early-mid 90’s. He brought in some of the biggest stars the club has ever seen. With players like Romario, Stoichkov, Laudrup, Guardiola, and Koeman he won four consecutive league titles and a Champions League title from 91-94. Cruyff became a legend and, at the time, the most winning Barcelona coach in history. The man who beat his record was his own former star player Pep Guardiola who from 2008 – 2012 won the league trice and the Champions League twice. Those achievements along with other smaller cup wins made Guardiola the most winning coach with a total of 14 titles and hence beating Cruyff.
Many clubs will admit absolute jealousy when they lay their eyes on Barcelona’s youth academy, La Masia. At La Masia, the players learn how to play a creative, attacking kind of football. The system is called tiki-taka and it has its roots in the Dutch total-football and focuses on constant movement, no set positions, ball possession, and countless short passes.The star players which has received their football education there count players like Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez, Pep Guardiola, Cesc Fabregas, Carles Puyol, and the current four times Ballon D’or holder, Lionel Messi. They all learnt a trick or two there. This is an important school that the franchise takes great pride in having .
Next to the incredibly informative museum is the place where one most often will find the tiki-taka system practiced – Camp Nou. This stadium has been the home for Barcelona since 1957 and can house 99,394 seated spectators. While being the largest stadium in Europe, it is ‘only’ the tenth largest in the world. This has led to the club management to allow that not only footballers produce magic on the field. Great musicians such as Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, Pink Floyd, and U2 have all performed there.
When the talk falls upon contemporary Barcelona is it very hard not to mention the winner of FIFA’s world’s best football player the last four years, Leonel Messi. Born in 1987 in Rosario, Argentina, he moved to Barcelona at a very young age to train at La Masia. The records are many, but worthy of mention is ‘most goal in a year’, ‘most goals in La Liga in one season’, and ‘most goals in a single Champions League match’. Messi is recognized by commentators around the world to be among the best players the game has ever seen, competing for that honor with Pelé from Brazil and fellow-Argentinian, Diego Maradona.
One superlative replaces the other like pearls on a string when Barcelona is being described. However, some people would hold back on the superlatives. They are people supporting arch rivals, Real Madrid. The European football calendar is full of exciting events but the games in the traditional El Clasico derby are worldwide some of the most anticipated. The intensity of those games truly show that points are of minor importance while honor is what they are playing for.
The constant rivalry with Real Madrid keeps Barcelona alert and on all levels this club is one of the biggest in the world to an extend that they claim themselves to be more than a club. It is a passion and a culture as well. The team will under current coach Tito Vilanova, who has continued the creative football vision from his predecessor, continuously be feared and will be one to watch in the coming years – especially with the iconic figure Lionel Messi still being young.