Date: 25th May 2009 at 12:32pm
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North American resident and Manchester City fan, americancitynut sent us the following article.

Barca player ins and outs

Those who saw Barcelona implode last year certainly didn’t see this coming. After the most inglorious sending-off imaginable, having to applaud Real Madrid after conceding the title, and slipping to third place behind Villareal, Catalan pride seemed to have been dealt a death blow. And the off season didn’t seem to accomplish much, either. Ronaldinho, Deco, and Zambrotta were all dealt away for seemingly small transfer fees, and few big name signings followed. Martin Caceres and Gerard Pique were not the big-name answers at the back, and no one was brought in to replace Eto’o.

The one high-profile replacement was Dani Alves, and he came with a huge transfer fee. Frank Rijkaard was sent packing, much to the fans delight, and replaced with the youth-team coach, Pep Guardiola. Club president Joan Laporta barely survived a no-confidence vote, but it was clear that a large majority wanted him gone, as well as sporting director Txiki Beguirstain. All signs pointed to another disappointing finish behind Real Madrid.

Season 2008/09

Week one of the season did nothing to change that perception, as Barca started with a loss to lowly Numancia, then followed with a draw at home against Santander. The lone voice of reason in the storm of criticism was Johan Cruyff, who declared that Barcelona was playing some of its best football in recent years, and that results would come. And did they ever. A 6-1 pummelling of Gijon was the beginning of a 21 match unbeaten streak (with only two draws) featuring a win over Real Madrid.

This Barcelona team set the standard for beautiful, dominating play in Spain and in the Champions League, highlighted by a 6-2 win over Real Madrid in their second match and a 5-1 aggregate win over Bayern Munich. They have currently won La Liga for the first time in three years, they won the Copa del Rey, and face our enemies, Manchester United, in the Champions League final this Wednesday in Rome.

Barcelona and the treble

This would be a historic treble unmatched by any Spanish team should they win in Rome, and it would also be a victory for football, as no team has played a more positive, more exciting style this season. What the Spanish national team was to Euro 2008, this Barcelona team has been to the 2008-2009 club season.

But what stood out to me, more than anything else, was how this Barcelona team stood together and stood resolute, whereas in the past two seasons they would have folded.

Last year, there were few late winners, or late equalizers, and this year there have been many. The wins this season that will stand out are not the 6-1 or 6-0 pummelling`s, but the 1-1 aggregate win over Chelsea, propelled by Iniesta’s miraculous 93rd minute winner, or the Copa del Rey final where Barcelona came from behind to win.

I think nearly everyone outside of United’s fan base, namely London, will be rooting for Barcelona. It has been a terrific season, and here’s to a Barcelona dealing ol’ red nose, the ladyboy, and the rest of the rags a lesson in European football.

Good luck FC Barcelona