When it comes to a sight beautiful in world sport, very few sights could match the beauty displayed by eleven men in Barcelona shirts on a hundred yard long pitch. Over the past decade Barcelona has redefined football and the way it is meant to be played. Barcelona is a club which is based in the Catalan state of Spain and till date it stands as the biggest symbol of Catalan pride and has deservedly earned the nickname ‘Mes Que Un Club’ which means ‘More than a club’.
Barcelona is the second-richest soccer club in terms of the revenue statistics. The club also has several tie-ups with charitable organizations like UNICEF and its youth academy ‘La Masia’ is considered the best youth academy in the world.
Nicknamed the Blaugranes, the club colors proudly resemble the Catalan flag over its crest. The football colors of maroon and blue have been made famous by the home jersey of Barcelona.
The club was formed in 1899 by a group of Swiss, Catalan and English soccer players who were in turn led by Joan Gamper who was a Swiss soccer pioneer also responsible for finding and building decorated soccer clubs like FC Basel and FC Zurich. The club was formed after Hans Gamper placed an advertisement expressing his desire to build a football club. He was encountered by eleven soccer players who willingly gave a positive response to his idea and Soccer club Barcelona was born.
The club had given a good start to its soccer stint by winning several regional and national soccer tournaments. They started playing in the Camp De La Industria from 1909 which had a capacity of seating 8000 spectators. The club later moved to Camp Nou which stands as the home of Barcelona till date.
The club has been long known as a symbol of Catalonian pride and an echo of the voice of entire Catalan against the policies of General Franco. General Franco who was a very dominantly imposing dictator in the history of Spain stringently tried to impose Spanish language and culture over the entire of modern day Spain including Catalonia. Catalonia wanted freedom but there was no other safer way to express their discontent towards a powerful Franco than to support the Catalonian soccer club. The Catalans considered it a stand against Franco’s policies by extending their support to Barcelona’s very own soccer club. It was in this period that the soccer club achieved the motto of ‘Mes Que Un Club’ which means ‘more than a club’.
Johan Cryuff played the role of a manager of this club in the 1980s and it was during this period that he ingrained the seeds of following a fixed soccer philosophy at the level of the youth academy. The youth academy of Barcelona famously known as the ‘La Masia’, has been the pinnacle of Barcelona’s success across generations. Barcelona try to emulate good soccer by combining local talents graduated from La Masia and the international names in soccer in the pursuit of achieving unparalleled success in club football. In 2010, La Masia became the first youth academy to have all of its graduates in the top 3 nominees of the Ballon d’Or contention. This youth academy has given the world of soccer several big names in the recent times like Iniesta, Xavi, Messi , Fabregas, Puyol and Pique. The Golden generation of Spanish soccer owes its international success mostly to the philosophy of possession play that stems directly from the roots of La Masia. La Masia, which originally was a farmhouse, became a hostel for foreign players playing for Barcelona. Soon it became a youth academy providing residence to non-local students of the Barcelona soccer academy. Consequently, La Masia became synonymous as the youth academy of the Spanish Giant. The emergence of this academy has strengthened the belief that a common soccer bonding among the players at a very young age can give impressive results at the bigger stages of soccer.
However in 2011, La Masia gates were closed and it now serves only as a memorable landmark with a historic significance for the entire of Barcelona. The new Masia residence has been shifted to Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper.
Usually the rivalry between a soccer league extends between its two top teams. But in Spain this is not the only reason for rivalry. Not only Barcelona and Real Madrid are the top two teams of Spain but also the political history among these two fuels the hatred for each other. Real Madrid was the capital club of Spain and General Franco had openly extended his support to it. Barcelona on the other hand was the pride of a freedom seeking Catalonia and was a clear revolt to Franco’s regime. Across a hundred year long history both the clubs have shown contrast in their philosophies and policies.
The reluctance of both the clubs to work with each other is evident from the fact that Barcelona gave up on Alfredo Di Stefano when they came to know that he would have to alternate between Barca and Madrid owing to Franco’s policies. Madrid eventually signed Di Stefano permanently as Barca quit collaborating with Franco’s Madrid in any way.
In the 1990s, Luis Figo was taking Barcelona’s soccer to newer heights and was rapidly becoming an icon of Barcelona. He had become a much loved personality in the entirety of Catalonia. However, his transfer to Madrid had shocked the entire of Catalonia and resulted in a venomous hatred towards the Portuguese so much so that he was always given a hostile reception at Camp Nou. This rivalry shared by Barcelona and Real Madrid has taken player-club loyalty to a different level.
Barcelona is undoubtedly the most decorated clubs in Spanish soccer and till date it stands as one of the three clubs along with Real Madrid and Athletic Club Bilbao to have never been relegated to the Segunda division. Barcelona has won the La Liga 22 times. It has a record of winning the Copa Del Rey the most number of times, 26. As far as continental success is concerned, Barcelona has won the UEFA Champion’s league for 4 times, the UEFA Cup Winner’s cup 4 times and the prestigious FIFA club World cup twice.
Barcelona became the first Spanish club ever to achieve a major treble in the year 2009. Also in the same calendar year it achieved a sextuple which is a collection of all the 6 tournaments it participated in the calendar year.
Johan Cryuff can rightly be considered as the Godfather of the Catalonian club. As a player he chose Barcelona over Real Madrid by making a public statement mentioning that he chose Barcelona over Madrid as he wanted to oppose Franco’s dictatorship. Having come from Ajax for then record transfer fee, he made an immediate impact by earning Barcelona several silverwares in Spain.
He returned to Barcelona as a manager in 1988 and laid the seeds of La Masia and ‘total football’ philosophy which would later become the underlying philosophy of the whole of Barcelona. As a manager, he also gave Barcelona a Dream Team which included the likes of Ronald Koeman and Josep Guardiola.
Josep Guardiola would follow in the footsteps of his master Cryuff and in 2009 would g on to re-invent the Barcelona soccer club’s traditional philosophy of ‘total football’ and give soccer arguably the Best player in Lionel Messi and the Best team of all time.
In the early 2000’s Ronaldinho came to Barcelona from PSG and renewed Barcelona’s identity by winning several accolades for this team at the individual and the collective level. He was the pop-star of soccer and mesmerized the entire world with his incredible abilities with the ball.
The number 10 shirt which was proudly worn by Ronaldinho was soon to be worn by the then number 19 Lionel Messi. The Argentine was a soccer prodigy from the start of his childhood and Football club Barcelona took the tab of taking care of his growth hormone deficiency provided he would play for the La Masia youth teams. Messi remained loyal and boy did he payback Barcelona!
He became the all-time top-scorer for the team across its hundred year history. He has become the all-time La Liga and the all-time Champions League top-scorer. He has accumulated several individual records playing for Barcelona and won several competitions with the team. He became the first player to win the prestigious Ballon d’Or award a record 4 times consecutively. He has been in the top 3 for the contention of that award for seven straight years.
Domestic competitions :
Winners (22 times):
Copa del Rey:
Winners (record 26 times):
Supercopa de España:
Winners (record 11 times):
Copa Eva Duarte:
Winners (record 2 times):
Copa de la Liga:
Winners (2 times) :
European Cup / UEFA Champions League:
Winners (4 times):
European Cup Winners’ Cup / UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup:
Winners (record 4 times):
Inter-Cities Fairs Cup:
Winners (record 3 times):
European Super Cup / UEFA Super Cup:
Winners (4 times):
FIFA Club World Cup:
Winners (record 2 times) :
Runners-up (1 time): 2006
Runners-up (1 time): 1992
Barcelona has been the pride of Catalonia and an inspiration of beautiful soccer throughout the world. This club is a living example of the successes achieved when an organization adheres to its basic philosophies and principles. This club has given several stars to Spain and to the world of soccer and promises to be a dominant force in Spanish soccer for many more years to come.