Decline of an Empire

Getafe 0-0 FC Barcelona

The thing about great teams, much like great writers, is that it can be hard to learn from them because they are not making the mistakes that allow for learning. It's quite possible to read something great and learn no lessons about how it was successfully constructed; it's just as possible that the personal creative processes hit a peak for that author in that one period of composition, and will never be matched. When you read something that goes wrong in a noticeable but minor way, it's much easier to see the flaw and imagine how one might go about fixing it.

I am still only learning how to watch football: the moments of chaos give way to patches where I am able to understand and follow both what is happening and why. This is good for increasing my technical vocabulary and very bad for being a fan; I can read the tactical review of a match and its impressions now sync with mine. Barcelona now features weird tactical decisions so notable that even I can recognize the flaws: "why are they only attacking on the left, even though the starting striker on that side is out?" "why is Messi playing like a midfielder?" "why is it the backs are the only ones who ever have the ball in possession?" "why does Rakitic only ever get the ball in the defensive half of the field? Isn't he an attacking mid?" "why does everyone just stand around in the box waiting for someone to do something?" All of this seems emblematic of a club that is something less than the sum of its parts, largely because no one ever seems to have a plan; everyone knows what to do when there's a rebound off a shot, but that's it. The solution is to get more creative with who plays, and tactics in games--the 3-4-3 for Champions League was risky, but effective--but Luis Enrique is beginning to get that siege mentality look that doomed Michigan football this year.

Fandom is dumb because you pick sides for, ultimately, arbitrary reasons, and then ride or die with those decisions.

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