Charles Darwin would have been impressed. In soccer terms, Saturday's Champions League Final between Barcelona and Manchester United was as profound a moment as when the first ape stood up and went for a jog. A new species of football has arrived. We are blessed, those of us who witnessed Barcelona's superiority, winning their fourth European Cup and carving their name in the slab of greatness. Simply said as beautiful. Those who wish to compete with them have to adapt or die.
Scouts across the world will be sent looking in every poor village or barrio for small, soccer playing boys that resemble the lustrous Lionel Messi, Barca's star, the boy whom Barcelona picked from an Argentine childhood to pay for his growth hormone treatment at age 13. But Barca could not have known then that their investment of $900 a month would grow into a surging power grid that lights up soccer like none before. Messi is electric. He delivers power to all reaches of the opponents half of the field, blowing fuses in defenses, and none of them have been able to find the switch to turn him off.
In dark basements across the soccer world, envious agents opposed to Barcelona's benevolent dictatorship, will be seeking solutions. Perhaps playing with 10 defenders, as Inter Milan successfully did against Barca in last year's semi-final is one. Or a return to a past era, man-on-man marking -- defenders become like glue sticks attached to Xavi and Iniesta, the imperious geniuses in Barca's midfield. Hacking them down has been tried and it failed. Yelling at them certainly doesn't work. Recently, Real Madrid's coach, Jose Mourinho, launched venomous personal attacks at the Barca creed. Arsene Wenger, boss of English team Arsenal, slagged Barcelona's control as "sterile." In Wenger's eyes, maybe trophies are not the offspring of great soccer teams. Barcelona has won 10 pieces of silver in three years. Arsenal are barren. Keep searching those villages and barrios.
It is impossible not to love Barcelona. The city's collective creed, their sponsorship by UNICEF on the team's chest and not some thieving gang of capitalist bullies, the laid back, independent style of Catalonia, and now the near perfection of the beautiful game -- a great leap forward. Barca. Glorious!
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