Give Us The Sun Back
“When Pep left he took the magic with him and the sun never shined over the city of Barcelona again”
“Lionel Messi is no longer the best player in the world, his focus is somewhere else”
“The golden generation is over, the club needs time to rebuild”
“Neymar’s signing was a huge failure. He won’t develop a good link with Messi.”
“Barca is finished”
These were the casual comments made towards Barcelona after the season 2013/2014 ended. Comments towards the club that not long ago dominated football all around the world.
The situation before
2014 was a horrible year for FC Barcelona. Tata Martino failed miserably. Neither was he able reinvent Barca’s system nor produce enjoyable football. It was a pain in the eye to watch this team play throughout the season. It seemed like the magic was gone. Gone forever. It was the first time since forever that Barca finishes a season without winning a single title. People all around the world were now making fun of the Catalan team.
Atletico Madrid knocked the team out of the Champions League and won the Spanish league title on their home ground. The team didn’t even manage to reach the semi-finals of the UCL, something the supporters and players weren’t used to. Furthermore, Barca stumbled into the shadow of their biggest rival. Real Madrid won against Barca in the Copa Del Rey final and crowned themselves as best team of Europe after the 4-1 win against Atletico in the final. Not the best time to be a Culé.
In addition, the death of ex-Barcelona coach (and legend) Tito Vilanova makes the atmosphere even bitterer. When does this nightmare finally end?
When will we see the sun again?
The World Cup 2014 in Brazil had an effect on some of our players, too. Spain playing a disastrous tournament, Pique’s form keeps declining, Neymar getting seriously injured and needs to leave the tournament after a blatant foul from Zuniga. Suarez as the new signing bites Chiellini on the shoulder and gets suspended until the 25th of October. Meanwhile, Messi and Mascherano did the impossible. They reached the final of the World Cup, something few players are able to experience. Argentina, a team that heavily relies on “La Pulga”, fights against the favorite Germany. The dramatic match takes its turn in ET when Judas- I mean Götze scores the winner. Argentina loses, but more importantly Messi fails to win the last trophy he needs for his collection. He knows that this was his biggest shot to win the most important title in football.
The sky of Barcelona is cloudy and no sunlight is in sight.
Back to Barcelona. The board decides to give Luis Enrique the chance to improve this broken team. Lucho shall be the man to bring back the joy. Although he played for Real Madrid, his heart beats blaugrana. He is a true fighter and has a strong personality. With the signings of Suarez, Rakitic and Ter Stegen the club added excitement for Barca fans, whereas Mathieu, Bravo, Douglas and Vermaelen were welcomed with skeptical looks.
The season starts with a black cat running on the pitch of the Camp Nou. May this be a bad omen for the upcoming season?
It did not seem like that. The “new Barca” won 7/8 of their first matches in La Liga and did not concede a single goal. The new goalie Bravo breaks the first record of the season. The supporters are content and have a feeling that the club is finally back on their way to the top of the world. Also, Neymar is showing his true brilliance after returning from his injury. Something that hasn’t been seen too often in the season before. In addition, his relation to Messi became closer, on and off the pitch.
On the wrong track?
After failing to win their first big match against a top club at the Parc de Prince, Barca now has the chance to proof themselves in the El Clasico. The team heads to their most important match of the season until then. The league leader faces the Champions League winner. Suarez is finally able to play. Will Lucho risk it and play him from the beginning? Intensity, drama and nervousness before kickoff.
An early goal from Neymar assisted by the 81m-signing Suarez (who eventually started) puts Barca in front. A fantastic start for the men in the blaugrana shirts. But the match takes its turn. Ronaldo scores from the spot, ending the goal-less run. Another two goals from Madrid in the second half -including horrible defending from the back four and clumsy behavior of Iniesta- and the match is over. Real with a well-deserved 3-1 win and a dominant performance against a team in deep resentment.
Barca struggling in the next two matches. A loss against Celta and a hard-fought win in Almeria highlight the bad form of the team. Suarez doesn’t adapt as quickly as expected and nothing is working for the Catalans. The team is absolutely demolished, fans start to whistle and the doubts increase heavily. Especially Dani Alves, Pique and Lucho are criticized strongly. Barca fights their way through 2014, a year to forget. They finish 1st in the UCL group stage, though, but stay behind Madrid in La Liga.
2015 – new year, new me. That’s what the fans expected, that’s what Barca was striving for. The year starts at the Anoeta, playing against Moyes’s “La Real”. Nobody - not the fans, not the coaches, not the players, not the commentators - absolutely nobody would have thought that exactly this match is going to be the most influential and important match in the last 4 years of the club. Here is what happened:
To begin with, Lucho, whose career at Barca was in doubts anyway, decided to NOT start Messi and Neymar, because of the fact that they joined the team later after the international break. Barca trailing 1-0 at halftime, Lucho reacts and subs the two South-Americans on. The score remains the same. What follows is the most intense, chaotic and unnerving week in club history.
“Sack this guy finally”, “Let’s get Pep back”, “De Boer would’ve been the better choice”
Fans are furious, can’t believe what is happening to the club and expect another year without trophies. The hashtag LuchoOut appears everywhere on Twitter.
The weather forecast says there won’t be any sun anytime soon.
We reached a point in which the OWN SUPPORTERS of the club wish that their team loses the next match in La Liga against Atleti, just to get rid of Lucho. Enrique’s image gets worse as media reports Messi and him not getting along. In addition, rumors about Messi joining Chelsea come up out of nowhere. Moreover, the board calls elections in the summer.
What have you done Moyes?
An iconic moment for the club arrives as the team that just lost their match at Anoeta faces the beast Diego Simeone created. The beast that Tata’s Barca couldn’t win against last year. The beast that even knocked out Ancelotti’s dominant side out of the Copa Del Rey.
Culés were nervous, frustrated, but mostly hopeless before kick-off. Until today I don’t know how, but what followed were the best 90 minutes of Barca since the 4-0 win against AC Milan. It all began with Messi playing a clever 1-2 with Dani, dribbling past Godin, passing the ball to Suarez who directly gives it to Neymar. GOAL! Everyone loses their mind. How did that happen? It was magisterial. MSN, the deadly trio, finally worked. Barca finishes the match winning 3-1.
A little sunbeam is sighted over the sky of Catalunya.
Since then Barca played extraordinary football. Messi regaining his “best-ever” form and scores goal after goal and assisting his teammates with utterly fantastic passes, Suarez finally linking up well with his new striking partners and Pique and Dani showing why it would’ve been an enormous mistake to sell these two beautiful players. Barca is back. Everything is working for the club, Lucho improved the team and solved his made mistakes.
The next challenge arrives. FC Barcelona faces Manchester City in the Champions League knock-out stage. City fans are confident, just as the players.
“You can have tougher games when you go to Stoke City” (Kompany ahead of the big clash)
However, Barca is not scared a bit.
Kick-off in the Etihad Stadium. And from then on, people saw what this Barca team is capable of. With a player like Messi, who nutmegs Milner as if it was a friendly, nothing is impossible. Not a single player could stop him. Since getting enough support from his teammates, Messi knew he wasn’t all on his own anymore. Barca leads 2-0 at HT with amazing goals scored by Suarez. And it had to be him: Suarez, the player who literally got bullied by the English media for years. The second half is less spectacular and Barca concedes. 1-2 is the final score, it seems like everything is still open, but in fact Barcelona was the dominant team all along. The Catalans win 1-0 at home, but if at least 50% of the clear chances were converted, Barca could have won with a 10 goal margin. Anywho, the club stands in the quarterfinal.
Continuing to play well and score a huge amount of (beautiful) goals, the team around Messi is ready for the next Clasico. This time they play at home, Barcelona with a great chance to extend their lead. But Madrid never planned to make things easy for Barca. After Mathieu’s goal from a set piece (!), Madrid equalizes and plays better football than the home team until the halftime break. The Catalans need time to control the game again. After winning back the focus, Barca creates tons of chances, but then again failing to convert. It needed a bloody ridiculous pass from Dani Alves to Suarez to finally go ahead. Barca wins the important match 2-1, a match that will definitely be decisive for the rest of the season – for both teams.
Back in January it seemed like Barca was going to have another trophyless season. Whereas now Lucho’s team had a real chance to win every single competition they played in. The treble was in sight. Something just few teams achieved in their club history. Something Pep managed to do in his first year. Something Lucho could do now as well.
Barca finally back at their best and emboldened. Destroying PSG 5-1 on aggregate, reaching the Copa Del Rey final and enjoying their comfortable spot on top of the table. The storm called Suarez finally arrived in Barcelona, the Brazilian YouTube star Neymar mutates to one of the best players on the planet and Messi doing what he does best – being the best footballer ever. Besides “MSN”, the midfield worked great as well. Iniesta gets better after a mediocre season, Rakitic being the midfielder Barca was missing and Busquets stays classy and solid as defensive midfielder. Also Xavi, Rafinha, Pedro, Bartra and Sergi Roberto show why players coming off the bench are more than important for the team. The defense of Barca is rock-solid, defending at set pieces became way better and also scoring from corners was no longer a rarity.
Meeting the ex
Another emotional moment of the season arrives on the day of the UCL draw for the semi-finals. Pep and Bayern face Enrique and Barca. No one was really ready for this. Guardiola, who gave this club so much, has to fight against his biggest love in football.
Moreover, Bayern beat Barca 7-0 on aggregate in 2013, a wound that still hasn’t healed fully.
The chapter starts in the Camp Nou. Barca plays a promising first half, many chances created, but no goals. Neuer keeps FC Bayern in the game. Barca continues to struggle in the second half, as they just can’t score a single goal despite having lots of chances to do so.
78 minutes played. Then it happened. It was magical, beautiful, stunning. There are no words to describe it. A magisterial moment.
After Neuer decided to play the ball quick, Alves wins the ball back and quickly passes it over to Messi who had enough. Enough of wasting chances, enough of getting fouled, enough of “hoping” to score. But most importantly he had an inch too much space around him, enough to create magic. He shoots from outside the box, a shot faster than a lightning. Neuer does not stand a chance. It happened. Barca up 1-0. The stadium relieved, Messi chants follow. But the magic was not over yet. Minutes after, Messi receives the ball from Rakitic and faces a one-on-one against Boateng. Messi letting the German slip, and now it is just Neuer. Messi chips the keeper. Within few minutes Leo scored two of his greatest goals ever against the best goalkeeper in the world.
Neymar ends the match with his goal. Barca wins 3-0. One of the best matches played by Barca recently, and the little Argentine showed why this team won’t work without him.
Even though Bayern won 3-2 in the Allianz Arena, Barca stands in the Champions League final again after a four year absence. Rejoice!
Xavi Hernandez i Creus, the best player in Spanish football history, announces he will leave the club this summer and move to Qatar. 17 years he spent playing for Barca’s first team, winning an unbelievable sum of trophies. An era comes to an end. Now there was one more motivation to win the treble.
The league is ours!
To win the first title, Barca needs to win against Atletico. Wouldn’t it be a fantastic story? After Atletico won the league last season in Barcelona, the team now has the chance to win it in Madrid.
Suarez, a key player as he showed against Bayern, is out injured. But this shouldn’t be a problem for such a great squad. It needed a lot of time, but in the end the smallest player on the pitch from the streets of Rosario scores the match winner. It is symbolic for the season, since Messi was the creative genius behind nearly every attack. 0-1 the score line in the Vicente Calderon says and Barca did it: La Liga champions 2014/2015.
Treble is loading…
The next big challenge arrives. Barca meets Athletic Bilbao in the Spanish cup final in the Camp Nou. Intense atmosphere from minute one on. But Barca always seemed to be the better side. Then again it needed the special man to win. Messi delights us with his best goal of the season, and definitely one of the best he ever scored. He did the impossible. A solo goal out of this planet, out of this universe. A masterpiece.
Barca wins 3-1 and becomes the winner of the Copa Del Rey 2015.
“Watching Messi makes me believe in being able to touch a rainbow or catch a lightning in a bottle” (https://jenfcb.wordpress.com)
Let’s make history!
This year’s Champions League final was special. Two teams not only fighting for the crown of Europe, also fighting for the treble. Barca trying to get back where they belong to: top of the world.
The match starts, Mascherano with early mistakes. Fans searching for more nails to bite off. After keeping up our great form, will today be the day we fail? But Barca taught us something important throughout the season: Never stop trusting into this team. And especially not on that day.
Messi playing a pinpoint ball to Neymar on the other wing, a quick 1-2 with Alba, the pass to Iniesta who managed a perfect run into the box, another pass to Rakitic – GOOOOAAAL! Utterly amazing team goal scored by the best team in Europe.
However, one should never underestimate a UCL final contender. Juventus turns up in the second half and it had to be Morata to score the equalizer. Barca suddenly struggling, losing the ball too often and do not control the game anymore. It needed individual class and a bit of luck. Messi picks up the ball, runs towards the goal and shoots. Buffon saves, but can’t keep the ball in his gloves. And there he is, the best signing of the summer! SUAREZ! 2-1! What follows are intense last minutes. Neymar picks up his tenth goal in the competition in the last second of the game. Game Over. Barcelona did it. After a chaotic season, they did it. Standing on the Champions League podium and lifting the biggest club trophy. Plus Xavi receives the jubilant farewell he deserves.
Champions League and treble winner of 2015: FC Barcelona.
The sky is blue and the sun shines again.
It was a dramatic season, a season to remember for years. Many of us still do not realize what this team has achieved. In a few years we will look back with a bright smile in our face and value the treble even more.
But the story continues. Enrique and his coaching staff (that I can’t thank enough for everything) stay for another season.
In the end, also Xavi found the perfect ending to mark his legacy. Just imagine this man leaving last season without a single trophy.
Finally, I want to thank everyone involved in our success. The team, the fans, everyone, especially Moyes, for making this season unique and enjoyable. Let’s hope for even more in the next season. Visca El Barca y Visca Catalunya!