Despite the plethora of articles already been written about it, I could not miss the opportunity to expressing my own ideas about what I consider to be the best football team I have ever witnessed, not only for their sport results, but also for their philosophy and flawless football style. I have also acknowledged some psychological factors that may act as decisive and helpful mediators in their exceptional performances against other top football clubs in Europe. The way I see it; this is a team that plays football almost like an expert gamer playing a console football game against a complete beginner; they make it look easy – pure perfection. So, I will mention some of these traits as follows:
“Winning is more important than how you play the game “
Maintaining exceptional possession of the ball when playing a local league game on a Sunday afternoon can be easily achieved; but in elite professional football, it is really unlikely that any team could keep the ball away from the opponent for more than twenty or thirty seconds at a time.
This fact comes down to two primary reasons;, firstly, the high level of fitness that the majority of the elite teams currently have, which makes Barcelona’s achievement of an unbeaten record of ball possession, more than 50 % in all their matches since 2008, almost impossible to believe ( check here). The second reason is quite primitive: commonly; teams are usually instructed to score, irrespective of their performance or the strategies that may sustained while doing it.
So, in that sense, Barcelona F.C. focuses on keeping the ball regardless of what is happening in the match: therefore, they are not forcing the outcome (scoring a goal) directly; but rather seeing it as a consequence of the ball possession they maintain so well (process goal). By doing so, Barcelona obtains a better tempo over the pitch, which provides them with better outcomes (easier chances to score).
Respect for the rules–Fair play
Sportsmanship is a value that has lost a lot of relevance in modern-day elite sports, however, Barcelona should be proud of maintaining a fairly good level of it, showing hardly any violent behavior against the opponents and having great respect for the essence of the game; (tiki-taka), does it ring a bell?. Why should there be such an emphasis on sportsmanship? Shields & Bredemeier (2010), authors of the book True Competition emphasize the idea that it is beneficial for the athletes to focus on their own performance rather than in the opponent’s misbehaviors and violation of rules. By doing so, athletes will become less anxious, more committed to the learning process and their own improvement instead of objective success. Now, there is a chance that Real Madrid fans will be upset with such a controversial statement, and will undoubtedly have some things to say about the excessive complaining to the referees that some Barcelona players often show, but this can be discussed in the future.
“Mind your mouth”
Simply watching any of Barcelona’s matches, certain communication and behavioral patterns such assertiveness and positive non-verbal language can be observed in the players that have been taught by the club, through the formative football process to almost all members of the squad. Thus, Jakob & Carron (1998) stated that those concepts mentioned above are keys to enhancing self-esteem, sense of belonging and cohesion within the group.
Parallel to this, whoever the coach is, he almost always provides the best possible modeling either on the sideline of the pitch, giving a speech to the media or answering questions in a press conference. Thus, he never criticizes the rival teams; he only delivers the formal football information and rarely gets involved in arguments.
“If the best player says that…it is because… “
As can be seen in the literature, perceived status is unavoidable when it comes to any sport group structure; because of the high variance in abilities, stronger personalities than others and money in bank that represent the success of the athletes nowadays.
However, no matter how great Lionel Messi is and how easily he can score impossible goals, Messi always talks about his great performance as a consequence of the effort the other players put in, which he considers profoundly essential to succeed. As a result, the rest of the roster perform reciprocically to each other, showing great support when any of the players is holding the ball, imaging new possibilities to release the ball to others before receiving it, (Collective thinking), avoiding individualism, something that is harmful for sport teams when used excessively, and perform in a synchronized manner regardless of the situation.
In conclusion it is noteworthy to say that I do not pretend to affirm that these reflections are to be written in stone, on the contrary, they were thought up and shared in order to generate more discussion amoungst those who are interested. I am simply taking into account my previous experience as a professional football player and also combining with my own personal appraisal about how great those players have been performing during the last four years, something that I do enjoy everytime I watch them play.