When asked about Josep-Maria Bartomeu and his board’s resignation after an emphatic victory in Turin, Sergi Roberto reverted by saying that the win in itself was the best response to the events that unfolded the previous night. At the same time, he went on to add that the players try to keep themselves away from these matters: “It is none of our business.”
Undeniably, there was truth in Roberto’s words. Political tension within the club should not have any bearing on the showing on the field. The mark of a well-managed club is a clear partition between the bureaucratic and sporting institutions.
The players are paid to play, and the person filling the president’s chair should have no bearing on the results they bring home. Yet, Barcelona was far from well managed, and there lied the twist.
Right from the get-go, one could see a different glow in Lionel Messi’s eyes. After a brief spell where he looked slightly disinterested, the fire seemed to reignite. He carried the ball swiftly, through the chaotic Juventus defence, showing glimpses of the 2017/18 season.
The Argentine was actively looking to get into goal-scoring positions as we all know him. The celebration after his goal once again had the passion of a true captain. Indeed, one might call it unprofessional. Lionel Messi’s business at the club is restricted to just being a player. His rights are limited to that of a squad member, and his commitment must always be towards the club, not the president.
Yet, it was not just Messi. It was the team as a whole that played joyous football once again. Though the expressions of Gerard Pique were not available to interpret, one could see the cohesiveness and more importantly, the happiness in each pass.
Pique would have enjoyed this night more than most. (Photo by LLUIS GENE/AFP)
It may have really been unprofessional. However, on a human level, it is understandable. As iterated, the mark of a well-run club is the separation of politics and sport. Yet, Bartomeu and his men used the players to cover up for their faults.
Hiring an external agency to defame the players and spread rumours is unprofessional too, to say the least. Calling out the heavyweights in the dressing room for transfer decisions is mighty unethical. Understandably, Barcelona were free of their shackles on Wednesday night.
The renewed passion for the Blaugrana colours written all over their faces. They played with the feeling of playing for ones own home, not out of contractual obligation. On the night in Turin, the feet danced over the ball.
Pedri had the Bianconeri midfield begging on their knees; Antoine Griezmann suddenly looked to connect with everyone around him. Meanwhile, Ousmane Dembele traumatized Danilo and Leonardo Bonnucci while Messi almost returned to his complete former glory.
Despite being two centre-backs down, the defence held up well. Yet, there was something more special than the result. It was the attitude that the Catalans displayed. They didn’t just defeat Juventus; they humbled the Italian champions at their own stadium.
It would be foolish to say that the entire team display was a consequence of Bartomeu and his board’s resignation. In fact, the relatively new players in the squad will not have too much to complain about. For most of them, it was just another magical might of football.
The entire team was on song the other night. (Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP)
That said, there is a sense lingering inside that it was a massive deal for the veterans of the club. It facilitated them to deliver a statement that showed their class. In a team, every little gear and screw matters tremendously. When Barcelona suddenly fired on all cylinders, they simply oozed confidence.
The performance was certainly not an outcome of the surrender from Bartomeu. However, it was no mere coincidence either. Nevertheless, as long as it channels the energy and fire into the team, nothing should matter. If this was the team’s way of celebrating, we hope for many more celebrations to come.