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Author Topic: END OF HISTORY  (Read 1061 times)

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  • Team of the Century
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  • Capitalism's final crisis (cartoon from 1969)
« on: April 25, 2012, 02:49:15 PM »


It was when Messi stepped up to take the penalty, that I first started getting butterflies in my stomach. Was this going to be the end of a golden era, the end of a team and a dream? Or would it bring personal and collective redemption for a team that was knackered, both physically and mentally? As it turned out, the bones may have been creaking even as they squeezed out the last drop of juice, but it was the mental fatigue—of having played more games than any other team in the last four years every year, of having played with the same faces day in and day out, of getting so used to success that the knowledge of the other side of the fence was a disappearing blur in the rear view mirror, of becoming so enveloped within their systemic cocoon that their ideological other appeared as a caricature that carried deep within it a fear of the unknown, and, crucially, of having had to play three of their toughest ever games in less than six days against driven opposition engulfed by envy, in front of two billion pairs of eyes that were irritated, nay threatened by their ideological purity—that drove the final nail in the coffin.

Where once the slow tiki-taka buildup in the middle-third transformed into a dazzling display of fast, razor-sharp ballet of passing, movement and imagination that often beggared belief as it scythed down a befuddled opposition in the final-third, last week saw a bunch that endlessly passed the ball square, taking five passes too many to reach Point B, with the opponents sitting back, unwilling to be drawn forward to their death. And when, finally, the vertical movement to raid the opponent's citadel came, even the backheels were predictable, diagonal off-the-ball runs were mistimes, bloody-minded dribbles that once rode tackles and cowed opposition in awe went missing-in-action, and the Iniestas gave up the chase even before the rare through-ball was released.

This was not the Barcelona whose ethereal creativity flirted with fragility but appeared to be anchored in a bottomless foundation of strength and belief. This was a caricature, an Arsenal in Blaugrana, whose superior possession merely signified preservation of stamina in the opposition. The smile had gone from the faces of Messi and Co, to be replaced by a darkening cloud, as if crushed by some invisible force.

It reminded me of Brazil '82, of Holland '74, and engulfed my heart with the dread of impending loss of a loved one, someone who in his pomp radiated an aura that triggered Elysian dreams and cajoled my better self out of me.

The dream lay dead, shattered.

What will happen to the cantera, the vision of the collective?
"Every rise of fascism bears witness to a failed revolution."
Walter Benjamin
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