Spanish Inquisition: Is It All Downhill From Here For Barcelona?

As the Blaugrana return home to celebrate their sixth title this year,’s KS Leong explores the wise old saying that what goes up, must come down...

Not to rain on anyone’s parade, but the future does look rather bleak for Barcelona... but in a good, complimentary kind of way. And besides they were coach, Pep Guardiola’s own words, not mine.

But the former midfield maestro turned prodigy coach does have a very valid point. And he is making those declarations as a pre-emptive measure to play down any expectations from fans and critics that the team will effortlessly waltz away with 12 titles in 2010. Not that that’s possible, even for the wizards and magicians of Camp Nou, but you get the gist of what he’s trying to do.

Everyone at the Barca camp, including Pep himself, had remarked that it would be near impossible to repeat the kind of success that the club attained over the past 12 months.

Everything that Barcelona do from here on out, whether it’s Guardiola’s team or a completely different squad five, ten years down the line, will always be compared to the history-makers of 2009. Real Madrid had to live in the shadows of the Alfredo Di Stefano-led glory era from the 50’s and 60’s for a long time, while Milan had to contend with their own achievements from the 80’s. More recently, Arsenal have had to cope with a barrage of condemnation because the current young stars are struggling to revive the team of ‘Invincibles’ from the 2003/04 season when they won the league title without losing a single game.

Even now, Barca are drawing critique after critique for their performances, simply because they do not look as vibrant and as exhilarating as they did last season, eventhough they are still playing beautiful, possession football and getting the required results. One can only guess just how much they will be slandered and disparaged should they walk away with only the Copa del Rey in 2010.

The fact of the matter is, their achievements in 2009 do not need to be topped or even replicated. There’s no official rule in football saying that a club must win the same amount of titles or more one year after the other to join the annals of the all-time greats. The class of 2008/09 won the sextuple and it will be this group of players who will be recognised as the immortals of their generation.

But football, as with all things in life, doesn’t quite work like that. People will celebrate and embrace Barca’s unprecedented success, but in the long run, it is ultimately failure that will be remembered and revisited the most.

Which of these two games will people bring to light more often in the future: the 6-1 mauling of Real Zaragoza or the 2-1 home defeat to Rubin Kazan in the Champions League?

Just another day at the office

The bar has also been raised monumentally not just for the Blaugrana, but for the next administration who will take over Joan Laporta’s reign. It will be even tougher for Guardiola. There is absolutely nothing he can do that will top his outrageous achievements in his first 18-monts at the job. Such is the exaltation that has been showered on Pep that if and when he chooses to leave Catalunya to coach a different club abroad, he will forever have to carry the six winners’ medas around his neck wherever he goes, and be expected to deliver the same level of success, whether it will be at Roma, Brescia or Rubin Kazan.

While the harshest of critics will demand that Barcelona go on to win another six titles in the new year before they can be convinced that Guardiola’s Drean Team II are a champion outfit, there’s a small part inside the rest of us who do not want the Calatan behemoths to duplicate another hextuple-winning campaign.

Records are meant to be broken and the history books are there to be written on, but it’s always more unique and treasured when a crowning achievement is accomplished only once. If it happens to often and repeated too frequently, the allure and the myth will disappear.

And if everything does go downhill from here for Barca, they will always have 2009.

KS Leong,