Australian football should send a bouquet of flowers to FC Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola. As we search for ways to sustain future success, the extraordinarily beautiful and successful football of Barca could not be a more perfect template.The style we should emulate wears red and blue stripes.Art with efficiency, it is called – to play beautifully and win. It is how football was made to be played.Lionel Messi is proving himself one of the greatest in the history of football and, in time, could well be recognised as the king, anointed by Maradona this week as so good that he ”plays football with Jesus”.He also plays in a heavenly team that might be the first since Arrigo Sacchi’s AC Milan to win consecutive European titles to cement their position as one of, if not the, greatest ever.Each time you watch them, imagine the players in green and gold shirts. This will help to form a vision of what we need to focus on, to replicate, and to produce.Barcelona have taken the possession and the art of passing to a new level, but the core element of their approach is to immediately regain the ball each time it is squandered. This makes them formidable.Guardiola recently gave a coaching seminar on his philosophy, titled “Recovering Possession”. He endlessly trains his team to recover the ball within three seconds, which requires an instant mental switch from possession to repossession.This illustrates how important having the ball, keeping it, circulating it and using it effectively is to great football teams. Why? Because possessing the ball gives control of the game, and with control comes the greatest possibilities to win. It also promotes the conservation of energy, because having the ball increases team energy, and chasing the ball drains it.No team has ever consistently passed the ball more than 600-700 times a match. Against Arsenal over two legs, Barca players made 1300 passes. In this way they have improved on the Sacchi model and taken the game forward.In this season’s Champions League competition, nine Barcelona players are in the list of the top 20 passers of the ball – that’s almost the entire outfield team. The top five are all from Barca. The peerless master of the pass, Xavi, is, of course, first, but note that second is not Andres Iniesta, Messi or Sergio Busquets, but Gerard Pique, the central defender.The reason for this is because Barca are taught that often the best attacking pass is sent backwards.And, just like last season, the highest foul makers are the forwards, not the defenders, because Barca defend from the front and attack from the rear.This Barcelona team is playing the most pure football the game has ever seen. Importantly, it has given Australia a template for our footballing future. The sooner more people resolve to copy Barca’s football, the sooner we will taste continuing success. Because beautiful football wins.
Nanjing Night Net