By Omer Barak
Four years ago, in a suburb of Barcelona city, I sat down with former vice president of Barcelona F.C, Ferran Soriano, and asked him only one question: “Really, Sir, What’s the secret?”.
The year, as you probably understood, was 2006, and Barcelona Introduced to the world Ronaldinho, Eto’ And the rest of the band. No, actually, it was more then that: Barcelona introduced to the world the game of soccer all over again. Considering the fact that that the last time I was doing a piece on Barca was in 2002, when the team was so doll and gray, it wasn’t a better team. Oh no, It was a whole different team.
“You wanna know the secret?”, he asked. I nodded. “The secret is to bring hungry players. Good players that are so hungry to succeed. That’s our secret”. It worked well in 2006. It also turned out great in 2007, 2008, and last year. Which is why it’s really surprising that Barcelona decided to give it up and betray this system this season.
There is no arguing that Barca’s players are the best in the world today. You really can’t give up Puyol, Valdes, Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, and there’s a long list to go. But in the game against Rubin Kazan, as in the game against Hercules or Majorca, it was clear as crystal: Those are all great players. And neither of them is hungry.
Just look at their achievement since 2008: Wining the Euro in 2008, then becoming Champions league winners, not to mention 2 championships and of course, winning the world cup this summer. All those great players are facing now the same problem: They really got nothing to achieve any more.
Barcelona, of course, suffered a real damage this summer, after it turns out that although the last president, Juan Laporte, said they earned 11 milion euros, they lost plenty of money. The book, the new management said, is cooked, and now everybody is about to eat the consequences.
After transferring David Villa, Barca found out it has empty pockets. Now, Villa is a great scorer and had a great world cup, but it wasn’t what Barca needed. The team from Catalonia needed a hungry, young, talented player, someone who can come from the bench and change the game, some one who can help Lionel Messi and Xavi in managing the game. In two words, Barca needed Cesc Fabergas. And that’s the only player they decided not to buy.
Without him, Barca have a really short squad. Xavi, Iniesta and Messi are all great players, but with really bad knees, and let me assure you that it will not go unnoticed as the season progresses. The panic when Messi hurt his leg was justified: At this point, Barcelona don’t have a substitute for Messi. Or Xavi. Or iniesta. Or Villa, for that matter, because the only player who could help this team out is now in Milan, Ibrahimovic scoring like crazy.
It’s gonna be a really hard season for the champions of the la liga. Real Madrid will eventually score and perform well just because Mourinho did just what Guardiola didn’t: He brought hungry players. Mesut Özil and Angel De Maria are just two examples on what will be proven to be a bingo.
And Barcelona? The game against Valencia is now crucial then ever. There is a huge pressure now, and don’t you forget: Barca’s players didn’t really felt any pressure since 2007… They come, for the first time in many years, as the underdog. And if Guardiola won’t find a way to make his players hungry again, well, let’s just say it’s gonna be a hell of a diet this season.