Last night was Pep’s last game and his troops did not disappoint. In a convincing win over the Lions of Bilbao, Pep closed off an era, a cycle, that has never been seen before. Pep has therefore won an incredible tally of 14 trophies out of a possible 19. Ask yourself: who else has done this? This is truly an amazing feat by the guy from Santpedor, a little village in the heart of Catalonia, Spain.
His successor, Tito Vilanova, has it all to do. Pep has laid the foundations for a great Barca future. A lot of the youngsters today have grown up believing that Barca has always played like this and it’s simply not true. Barca can lose just like any other side but what Pep has brought to the game will go on forever. He’s found a style of play that is exciting to watch. It’s attacking football and it gets results. Guardiola is a footballing genius. A lot of people were surprised at what Pep achieved in his first year and I was one of them for sure. Maybe Joan Laporta knew what he was doing when he contracted Pep. It does appear that Pep and Sandro Rosell do not actually see eye to eye and an example was Pep’s press conference where he said he was leaving; Rosell quickly chimed in against Pep’s wishes and announced that Tito would be taking over. One could perceive on both their faces that tensions were high.
The National Anthem
I think it was a bit juvenile coming from both Basques and Catalans to whistle and make as much noise as they could while the national anthem was playing. This just shows the extent of how Spain is a divided country. I was watching the match on TV and I think they purposefully drowned out the whistles and turned up the anthem to make it appear “normal”. Anyway, I think it’s a shame, if you don’t like a monarchy don’t play in a tournament called the Kings Cup – simple, isn’t it?
The game got off to a crazy start as was expected with Barca assuming responsibility early on. Barca wanted to get into their groove early and it was up to Athletic Bilbao to stop them. Pedro had other plans though and slotted one in on 3 minutes. That must have hurt Bilbao, any goal that comes that early does damage.
It really did seem that the boys from Bilbao were in the wrong place at the wrong time. This was made even more apparent when little Leo Messi stuck the next goal in coming from the right on 20 minutes. Messi was off balance and still managed to find the roof of the Athletic Bilbao net – amazing goal.
Athletic Bilbao almost knew their fate in the first 3 minutes but were unable to do anything about it. Then Pedro stepped up to the plate again and made it 3 nil on 24 minutes. Pedro has the amazing ability of popping out of nowhere and finding the net. Those two goals certainly Vicente Del Bosque that he was ready to show what he could do in Spain’s Eurocup campaign that kicks off next month.
It was a shame for Marcelo Bielsa who admitted after the match that his team didn’t play to the expectations of the Athletic Bilbao’s supporters. To be fair to Bielsa’s side, I did think the referee was overly harsh on them, especially when he denied the lions a clear penalty for the shove on Llorente by Gerard Piqué. That would have given them a lifeline and shortened the deficit but it was not to be.
The referee’s actions aside, this Barca team were going all out and it showed. They wanted to close this footballing cycle off with an awesome win for their manager, Pep Guardiola. The future is now in the hands of Tito Vilanova.