Paulo Dybala hit a brace as Juventus dismantled Luis Enrique’s men 3-0 during their Champions League quarter-final first-leg tie at the Juventus Stadium.
What is the significance?
Having already been admonished 4-0 by PSG in the previous round, the result can’t be dismissed as an anomaly.
If anything the 6-1 comeback win against the French champions was the anomalous result. As it stands, capitulation against European elite is edging towards the norm. There is something amiss at the innards of the club and the team, and it needs addressing.
However, before looking at the problems that currently beset them, the successes – and more importantly – the factors that underpinned those successes must also be understood.
An era-defining side packed with era-defining players
Since winning La Liga in 2005, the Catalans have enjoyed a decade or so of near-unparalleled success, adding a further seven league titles, four Copa del Reys, seven Supercopa de Espanas, four Champions League titles, two European Super Cups and three FIFA Club World Cups.
As extraordinary as that roll call of trophies are, are the players that lifted them; to name a few: Samuel Eto’o, Ronaldinho, Thierry Henry, Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique, Dani Alves, Andres Iniesta, Xavi, Sergio Busquets, Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar.
Some of these players have redefined the understanding of their respective positions. Lionel Messi and Xavi are obvious candidates but Dani Alves warrants a mention. Here was, to all intents and purposes, a number 10 operating as a full-back. In their pomp, they had a multitude of weapons at their disposal.
A perfect storm: Talent, philosophy and the tactical fundamentalist
More than any other, Barcelona have a playing philosophy that defines their club.
However, having a well-defined philosophy and the players and a coach to execute it are two wholly different propositions.
The period from 2008 to 2012 represented the perfect storm of all three. The club had produced a cohort of youth team players that were well-versed in the intricacies of the club’s ideology and a coach in Pep Guardiola who steadfastly refused to compromise those ideals.
Guardiola reportedly detests the phrase tiqui-taca (tiki-taka). However, there is no denying that midfield control and specifically ball monopolisation represented the central tenet of their success.
Xavi, a student of the game in the mould of Guardiola himself, embodied this era-defining Barcelona - an on field general dictating via the medium of possession. With Busquets and Iniesta willing and more than able deputies, Barcelona redefined how to dominate a football match.
Read the full article on eurosport.co.uk: How Barcelona disintegrated to become a bunch of individuals