If Barça is more than a club, for culés (FC Barcelona supporters), Pep Guardiola was more than a player, and now he is more than a coach. He won everything while wearing the FC Barcelona shirt, and now he has won everything in his first year as manager, becoming at just 39, the biggest legend in FC Barcelona history.
A decade full of success and achievements, winning everything a soccer player can win: 6 Spanish League, 2 Spanish Cup, 4 Spanish Super Cup (a championship contested by the winners of the Spanish League and the Spanish Cup), 1 UEFA Winners Cup, 2 UEFA Super Cup, and a gold medal with the Spanish national team in 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games. But the most important trophy on his shelve is the European Championship Cup won by FC Barcelona on May 20th 1992 at Wembley Stadium against Sampdoria. Being one of the greatest soccer clubs on earth, FC Barcelona had never before won the most important European club competition even though Barca had played in two European Championship Cup finals before.
Guardiola represented all that FC Barcelona stood for. He was a local, a young thin kid who left his home at the age 13 following his dream of defending the colors of his club. Nobody else in the team felt the club as deep in the heart as Pep Guardiola did. So at the end of the season 2007/08 Frank Rijkaard was fired and the president of the club offered the vacancy to Pep Guardiola. He accepted, but not everyone agreed with the decision. A large part of Barca supporters thought that he hadn’t had enough experience as coach to be the manager of FC Barcelona, but Pep, a man who had grown up in the club and learned everything about it, had enough self-confidence to manage the team.
Last season was the best season in Barca history. The team didn’t just play some of the best soccer ever seen on a field, but they won the treble, capturing the Spanish League championship, Spanish Cup defeating Athletic Bilbao 4-1, and the European Championship League Cup defeating Manchester United 2-0 in what is known as the match of the century. This is an incredible feat considering only three teams in Europe had achieved it before: Celtic from Glasgow in 1967, Ajax from Amsterdam in 1972 and PSV Eindhoven in 1988.
Things couldn’t start better for Pep and Barça this new season. With a few changes on the team’s roster, the most important was the striker exchange with Inter Milan: Cameroonian star Samuel Et’o is now playing in Italy and Swedish ace Zlatan Ibrahimovic will play at the Camp Nou for the next five years, Barça is playing at the same level as the last season and the results are the same as well, victories. This past summer, after the US tour, Barça won the first two official tournaments of the season. First was the Spanish Super Cup against Athletic of Bilbao, and then came the European Super Cup where Barça defeated Shakhtar of Donetsk. In the Spanish League, Barça is placed at the first position, tied with Real Madrid, of the classification table after winning 23 games and just one loss. It is almost impossible to think that Barça could repeat what they did last season, history is against them. So far there’s no team that has won two European Champions League titles in a row, but if there’s a team that could, this is the team, coached by Pep Guardiola.
By Oriol Rodríguez