It is an indisputable fact that the current Barcelona team are one of the best (if not the best) club sides that have ever graced a football field. Perhaps a once in a lifetime sporting event.
Yet for all the pace, precision and skill that they bring to the game, they may be making a significant contribution to hastening the end of the soccer landscape as we know it.
Despite what some of us may think from time to time the managers of top class football teams are not idiots. They have looked at the way that Barcelona play their football and decided that the only way to have a chance to overcome them is to fight fire with fire.
Manchester United are already a vastly different team than they were last season; full of young attacking players who can comfortably interchange positions and pass the ball with speed and precision.
Jose Mourinho is clearly trying to develop his Real Madrid side as a kind of “uber-Barcelona” (if you will forgive the Germanic-Catalonian hybrid) filled with all the qualities that his main foes possess with the added ingredient of the power that is so redolent in all his sides.
The best example of how much the football world has changed though was the recent 5-1 defeat of Tottenham by Manchester City. Last season City went to White Hart Lane and ground out a turgid 0-0 scoreline that enervated just about everybody watching.
This season they were a whirlwind of attacking ideas that left Spurs baffled and looking lost, and this wasn’t a depleted Tottenham side in the same way that Arsenal were in their rout against Manchester United. This was a Spurs side that was startlingly familiar to the one that finished fourth and fifth in recent campaigns.
The huge difference between the two teams was clearly the front men. Even if Harry Redknapp had wanted to play a freewheeling style of forward line (unlikely I know) does anybody imagine that Crouch, Defoe, Van de Vaart and Lennon could achieve the kind of fluidity that Villa, Dzeko, Nasri and Aguero were so comfortable with?
In the end it was akin to watching a group of trees trying to stop a river, the winner was always going to be that one that could flow wherever it willed.
How does this destroy football as we know it? Simply because it takes an incredibly high standard of player to play in this way. Villas-Boas is clearly trying to move toward it at Chelsea but he will never do that as long as Drogba and Anelka are on the pitch.
Liverpool can get close to it when Suarez is leading the line, but when Andy Carroll is on the pitch they become far too predictable (no reason that Carroll can’t develop to be as effective as Dzeko) but so far his imagination and fitness seems lacking.
Recent scorelines have shown that a small handful of the very top clubs are now perfecting both a style and a squad that is capable of simply steamrolling over weaker opposition on a depressingly regular basis that could ultimately lead to the demise of national leagues as even vaguely competitive entities.
The teams that they have inspired may be incredibly exciting to watch for the time being, but we may find that Barcelona have spawned a series of beautiful monsters that are capable of destroying the sport from within.
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