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Nov 202013
Last week I read a very good piece by our friend Joseph Sexton for Football Espana (sic) in which he posits that the changes that have occurred at FC Barcelona are part of some sort of natural progression, a very parochial style adapting to opponents that have done so to them over the last five years, more of an evolution rather than a revolution per-se but as much as I'd like to think this is just an environmental adaptation, I think it's much deeper than that: opponents have modified their tactics to the Barcelona way of play, sure, the tiki-taka that pundits still have a problem processing in full, but this is more than just  measured step in the line of Rjkaard, Guardiola and Villanova or from Laporta to his former Vice-President.

Barca have stopped pressuring with the high-line that Guardiola preferred, and they've become far warier in attack, playing on the counter more and asking Victor Valdez to take a longer clearance from goal at times. They're less Messi-dependent and they've built themselves more capable of taking advantage of the skill sets of not only new signing Neymar, but specifically Alexis Sanchez who has seen a resurgence under new coach Gerardo 'Tata' Martino, as has Cesc Fabregas who returns to a similar role he filled at Arsenal.

You could say that's all well-within the Barca DNA, that they have played a more expansive game at times, that they were not always married to this particular strain of possession football brought over by the Dutch in the 1970's and that's where the revolution is. It's a counter-revolution, a return to the days before Cruyff and before him Michels, to a time where autocrats ruled the roost at the Camp Nou, to the days of Nunez and Gaspar and of the old guard that current President Sandro Rosell sees himself linked to. Elected on June 30 of 2010, Rosell has made it a mission to roll back the clock to a time before his former friend Joan Laporta won the last real revolution, the one with the symbol of the Blue-Elephant, the Elefant-Blau, that he defended against the excesses of.

It's not just that he dismissed Cruyff as the Barcelona Ambassador for Life, nor that he sold many of the lights that have been shining at La Masia and at Barcelona B in the second division, and not even the deals with the Qataris and the Brazil Football Association that have essentially repudiated their stressed ideals of being mes que en club, more than any club. It's all of it, not to mention bringing in the first manager without the pre-requisite Ajax credentials since 1997, changing the policy of allowing for affordable seats for children at the Camp Nou, and not maintaining the level of transparency that the socios always argue about.

No, this really is a revolution, a coup that frankly no one has covered to an extent. FC Barcelona might have most of the same players, play with most of the same purpose that they did when they were winning all those trophies and challenging for the title of greatest club team of all time, but behind the scenes this is a far cry from the one that won four league titles, one league cup and three league Supercopas domestically, not to mention two Champions League trophies to go with a Super Cup and a Club World Cup under Joan Laporta.
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