Nero idly stroked the strings of a lyre as he watched Rome burn. Rudi García may well have had an instrument of his own to pluck away on from the bench as he helplessly witnessed AS Roma be eviscerated by an unstoppable looking and blissfully happy FC Barcelona. Words are wonderful tools yet there are times they fall woefully short of giving events the justice deserved. Yesterday evening falls into such a category. All the illustrative adjectives and adverbs of language cannot truly paint the picture of this 6-1 victory in all its ruthless artistry. Over the past three days Barça have scored 10 goals, it may easily have been 20, against the most expensive team in football and a perennial Serie A contender. Barça took control of Spain’s La Liga and for the ninth season running finished first in their UEFA Champions League group. And they did so with smiles and laughter as much as with otherworldly football. History beware – Barça is coming for you.
A cheerful buongiorno and a laugh from a confident, spirited Brazilian summarized the situation perfectly, setting the stage during the pre-match interview for the upcoming UEFA Champions League encounter between FC Barcelona and AS Roma on Tuesday night at the Camp Nou.
The clásico, of course, was still on everybody’s minds. Most were still struggling to collect their thoughts on another historic triumph, appreciating the beauty that was on display but still unable to understand it completely – more time is needed for the mind to catch up with what eyes witnessed on that late November Saturday afternoon in Madrid. History: that’s the one word that was brought up most often in the ensuing post-match commentary. It’s what most easily came to mind to even begin to attempt to describe the indescribable. There needs to be time for digestion, time for it to be reevaluated and to be celebrated anew.
And yet there was so little time to fully come to terms with it, especially considering the next match is so soon to follow. Savoring that match can be done for an entire lifetime, but right now the next challenge is more immediate. Enjoyment must be postponed. Like a dreaded Monday morning alarm clock, blaugranes would rather delay this match, not out of fear of Roma, but for wanting to prolong the sweetest of aftertastes of what is leftover.
After three straight defeats, Barcelona B brought an end to their horrid run with a 2-2 draw away at Sabadell. The reserves got a point from their visit to the Nova Creu Alta, but they should feel lucky they returned to Barcelona with more than their luggage. A rare mix of effectiveness in front of goal and some Ortolà heroics saw Gerard López take a valuable point against a rival that dominated for the duration of the match.
It is a word that has dominated conversations all over Catalunya during the past half decade. There is a consciousness and self-awareness surrounding them – an understanding of the difficulty involved in a treacherous, long journey needed to actually reach that potential tipping point in time. These types of comments regarding what is considered historical are shared amongst neighbors, family, friends, and even whispered to strangers with a smile, content at being drawn closer together as a part of something greater than themselves.
But what does it all mean in its proper context? It is difficult to recognize the difference between witnessing history and actively being a part of it. How can we be anything more than bystanders, given that most of us are not the ones who will actually determine the outcome?
It seems strange to say that a coach who won the treble in his debut season could yet hit his peak, but Saturday night’s victory against Real Madrid might be Luis Enrique’s pinnacle moment as a manager.
Sure, the 3-0 defeat of Bayern Munich last spring was higher stakes and the 3-1 victory over Atlético Madrid more symbolic. This clásico had none of the raw energy and breakneck pace that Lucho’s Barça demonstrated from January to May of this year – and indeed, that might be what makes it so impressive. From the first minute, Barça were calm and composed on the ball and when the first goal came, it was after a full 1 minute and 45 seconds of possession in which nine different players touched the ball. This was a team performance – the team performance.