“This article by its very length defends itself against the risk of being read. So I made cute little sections for you skimmers with low attention spans. You can read the intro and conclusion to understand the article.”
Some say the current FC Barcelona team will go down in history as one of the best teams ever. Many say that Barcelona’s academy of soccer has brought back the theory of “the beautiful game.” People say FC Barcelona has proven that stylish, poetic, fluid possession soccer can in fact become a winning dynasty. Ultimately, Barcelona has proven that size; speed and strength isn’t the most important thing in soccer. So the question becomes, “is the modern game with its inherent characteristics of speed and strength flawed?”
For the past forty years we humans have adopted the notion that successful soccer equals to faster and stronger players, thus “the modern game,” was derived. So if strength, speed and force are what encompass the modern game, then please explain the success of FC Barcelona? A team made up of short and even nonathletic soccer players who have dominated the soccer world for the past four years. So the question now becomes, “has FC Barcelona inherited characteristics from past generations; characteristic which have been ignored for so long?” If so has the growth of the game become (for) better or (for) worst?
The Birth of The Modern Game (Summary of the modern game there were many other factors as well.)
The modern game has become the staple for training and soccer regimes starting back to the mid 1960’s. During that time the Brazilian technical ability and game awareness was far superior to the Europeans. In an attempt to equal the playing field the European teams had no choice but to invest in better athletes to mark and over power the more technically inclined Brazilians. The result of the Europeans plan was successful. During the 1966 World Cup the Europeans were more physically prepared then ever before. Investing time and focus on perfecting positioning and physical attributes of it’s players. That tournament is remembered not only for the final between England and W. Germany who inherited the modern game philosophy, but also for the brutal fouling of Pele in several games. England went on to beat W. Germany in the final and the wheels of modern soccer were in motion.
The new physical style displayed by the Europeans was very clear, and Brazil decided they had to adapt if they wanted to ever win another World. The Brazilian Soccer Federation hired new trainers (Carlos Alberto Parreira) and transitioned the Brazilian squad to “adapt” to a more physical game. Brazil won the 1970 World Cup, arguably with the best soccer team ever, but also with a better-fit team than ever before.
The Transition from “the jogo bonito”
The next generation of Brazilian footballers only helped to confirm what was already being taught at academies, “modern successful football = a physical game.” Brazil is the country who coined the term “jogo bonito” and who in essence should be the defenders of a fluid and technical style of play. However, the 1980’s proved to be the ultimate defector in the future development of “the jogo bonito.” In the 1980’s Brazil developed some of the best players in the world and played beautiful fluid touch soccer; however, the great Zico, Socrates, Falcao, Junior, Leandro and Eder failed miserably in achieving World Cup success.
Leandro (José Leandro de Souza Ferreira), the right defensive fullback has been quoted recently in saying, “Back in the day I played right fullback because Brazil had so many great midfielders; however, today if I played I would play probably in the midfield or attacking midfielder.”
– Sited – Programa do Sócio, canal PFC. www.pfc.com.br with Sergio Lobo.
Brazil’s failures in the 1980’s proved to the Brazilian Soccer Federation that fluid, beautiful soccer doesn’t win tournaments. A new ideology began to form in Brazil regarding physicality and defense. Brazilian academies and scouts began recruiting players with “different” characteristics than before. The club academies began teaching the game differently to the junior squads. The dilution of the technical player began at this moment and would take only a few generations for a complete transformation of the “Brazilian Player.” The results of the diluted player would reach an uncanny pinnacle years later.
Results of The Modern Game
We know find ourselves forty years later. We can sit back and reap the results of over forty years of modern physical soccer. The slow degradation of “The Beautiful Game” to “The Modern Game,” and we know find ourselves at full circle. After generations of diluting technical soccer we see the catastrophic results. Currently there is only ONE team in the world, which continues to play technical soccer, and it is leaps and bounds above the rest, FC Barcelona. There is also ONE country creating the most ingenious players of modern time, Spainsh National Team. It seems these organizations did not adopt “completely” the ideology of the modern game?
There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that Barcelona is the best team in the world. When Barcelona plays against strong teams like Manchester United, it seems as though Manchester United is unable to even touch the ball. It is embarrassing to watch another professional squad look so “amateurish.”
We also find the Brazilian National team without any “real” superstars. All of Brazil’s current great players are defensive style players. It almost seems like; Brazil has become a factory for tough defensive style players. The gatekeepers of the beautiful game are in-fact dead?
Yes, there is a young generation that is promising with Ganso and Neymar; however, where is the rest of the quality? Are we placing ALL bets on two guys? Who are their subs? What if one gets’s hurt? Will we depend on Ramires to conduct the midfield?
The reality is, we as a people have created great athletes that we forgot about creating good players. We now see FC Barcelona, playing a more 1970’s style game, with a bit more speed, and with their 1970’s style they seem to destroy every team on earth. The main orchestrator is a little un-athletic guy called Xavi.
We have harshly and blindly brushed off the theory “the beautiful game,” and thus transformed the game into an unrecognizable product. It has become an altered product, mass-produced into the most physical, thoughtless and uncreative sport.The mere idea that soccer has development into a “fast food” of sorts; “exciting when watched but left empty when the game is finished,” has become the spectators reality. There’s no way around it, we now find ourselves almost at the point of no return. We have actively been practicing in such incestuous tactics and theory’s that the mere foundation of soccer might be altered for eternity.So the question now stands, “Is Barcelona that good or is everyone
else that bad?”
Currently there is no team in the world even close to matching Barcelona, mainly because there is no team in the world setup to control the ball similar to Barcelona. Every team currently in operation, works under the seemingly same theories we have all been forced into believing for the past forty years, “That speed, strength and counter attacking soccer is modern soccer.” The tactics are the same everywhere, just delivered with different flair depending on the country.
How long can FC Barcelona keep up the dominance; until they get old or until another team changes their style? Only time will tell…
Roberto Avey is an ex-soccer player from Brazil. Club, Associação Atlética Ponte Preta in Campinas, São Paulo, Brazil, 1995-1998 under coach, Francisco da Silva Júnior “Chiquinho." He has since graduated from Midwestern State University in Texas, with a bachelor degree in journalism and helps coach teams in Southern California. Read more