Sunday, October 24

Barça and its reversible argument | sports

Koeman greets Riqui Puig and Jordi Alba this Sunday in San Sebastián during the win against Real Sociedad.
Koeman greets Riqui Puig and Jordi Alba this Sunday in San Sebastián during the win against Real Sociedad.VINCENT WEST / Reuters

A characteristic of Barça is the close link it maintains between its game and the results it obtains. By tradition, he tends to win when he plays well, to lose when he is vulgarized, and to beat if he goes from good to sublime. When Barça does not enter through the eyes, it enters melancholy. Its status is easy to detect. He does not wrap himself in the elephant skin that so often hides weaknesses in football. It is a crystal clear team.

Less explainable is his radical turn this season, which pointed to disaster. You didn’t have to be a lynx to watch his regression. He left footprints everywhere. His European calvaries were without equal. In the League, the vertical collapse was changed by routine wear and tear, altered by the great kidnappings of Leo Messi.

The team that best summed up beauty in football became pedestrian and dull, ugly to watch. In the ugliness, the Barça moves very badly. It’s not built to stand up in the trench, step on puddles, and scratch narrow wins. He has long preferred the poetic to the prosaic, and lately he wrote with too many smudges.

This season, Barça has concentrated its worst prospects – poor game, poor results, discouragement – and an unforeseen brilliance in a pill, even more praiseworthy for the tensions that have weighed on the team, subjected to general discredit, an economy of war and the painful institutional process that has developed in the pandemic.

Around Barça there was only one doubt: how long would it take him to fix his crisis? Nobody was talking about a short recovery time. The most optimistic were managing a medium term. Most found it difficult to see any light at the end of the tunnel. This was the climate that presided over the elections and the running of Barça until a month ago. Crushed by Paris Saint Germain at the Camp Nou, he touched the ground of desolation. The win was the natural result for a team without a game, without a soul and without a future.

A month is an instant in football. It does not serve as a unit of measurement to project an idea and, much less, a forecast on the future of a team. It can, however, act as an element of comparison. In recent weeks, Barça have returned from beyond to offer a new, unexpected and promising version of their possibilities. In fact, he has returned to playing with passion, judgment and harmony. And with results at the height of his splendid footballing performance.

Very occasionally, these Copernican twists occur. Bayern started the previous season in the middle of an acute crisis and ended the year sweeping in all competitions. The case of Barça was different. It was coming off a long decline, punctuated by various historical slaps, the kind of decline that forces a grueling journey through the desert. More than Bayern, Barça referred to the innocuous Milan of the last 10 years.

Barely a month has been enough to attend one of the most surprising reconversions of a team, a triple corkscrew jump that nobody imagined, with the same actors – Koeman, Messi, young inexperienced players, worn out veterans and suspicious signings – who were used to explain a bottomless crisis.

As football is playful and somewhat perverse, the same argument that justified the Barça disaster now expresses the reasons for its resurrection. If it is short or long range, it will be seen. While the staff investigates the mystery, Barça returns to play well and big against Real Sociedad. According to the old logic of this team, it is almost a guarantee of victory.

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