It was said by someone on a very popular radio show. It is, obviously, an exaggeration product of inexperience and having seen little football. Today’s young opinion-makers lack ideological training because they have adopted the concepts that predominate today: run, pressure, obstruct. “The team is very good because it defends well”, is usually a common concept, or “the team attacked little, but ran, applied the pressing and tactically it was impeccable ”.
The most veteran, who have seen much more football, we ask ourselves: what about the game? Do any of these youngsters ever talk about the game? Never; There is talk of other predominant elements in football that are contrary to the aesthetics that we once enjoyed (such as the Brazil of 1958 and 1962; those of 1982 and 1986 directed by Telé Santana; and, obviously, Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona). What is to play well is a universal discussion.
We get tired of hearing that a team “played well” because it prevented the rival from working, but few notice today that this tactic generally prevents their own team from working in the task of looking for the opposite fence to put the ball there. When I hear that, I think that no one defined this concept better than Jorge Valdano, world champion in 1986, which I clarify because in our midst there is so much charlatan that he gets the audience drunk with esoteric and ridiculous speeches. I put it in a column in December 2014 and I thought that it no longer had to be repeated because it had been assimilated by today’s commentators who want to enlighten themselves and there are many. Valdano said: “Each place on the field has its speed and its difficulty, everyone touches and offers. The embroidery starts from behind, where it is necessary to ensure the exit without risks. The middle center distributes with common sense; the middle of the sides pass the stripe and are displayed diagonally. The fourth midfielder is the offender who tries strange things to risk the search for the goal and all together join the striker at the arrival. Marvelous. Oh yeah? Then ask no more what it is to play well ”. Will it be necessary to put it again?
Another edge that Mario Aguirre put into discussion, while we watched the game on the giant screen of the cozy Guayaquil Tennis Club, together with Clímaco Cañarte, a national football legend; Mario Ayora, who has seen and has a lot of history in his memory; Nicanor Moscoso, Jorge Rivadeneira and Jorge Orellana is if this Barcelona is the best formation of those that reached the semifinals of the Copa Libertadores. The conclusion was unanimous: there were others much better. The history of the idol of the Shipyard in this phase is not very promising: of 27 appearances in the Cup, in nine he was a semifinalist (1971, 1972, 1986, 1987, 1990, 1992, 1998, 2017 and 2021). Undoubtedly the most brilliant semifinal was in 1990, but in some others it had high-ranking teams.
Let’s talk about the 1971 one, the first one Barcelona played, in a different format than the current one. It is impossible not to remember the most famous national player in the world, Alberto Spencer, and the most technical and creative talent: Jorge Bolaños. Next to them, foreigners who still miss each other today: Luis Alayón, Jorge Phoyú, Édison Saldivia, Pepe Paes, Pedro Jet Álvarez, Gerson Teixeira and the unforgettable Basque priest Juan Manuel Bazurko, who scored the goal in the La Plata feat. These stars were surrounded by Washington Muñoz, the club’s historic scorer; Vicente Lecaro, Luciano Macías, Walter Cárdenas, Miguel Ángel Coronel, Juan Madruñero, Héctor Menéndez, Juan Noriega and the leadership of the famous Otto Vieira.
In 1972 he had the same squad, with the signing of Pedro Parakeet León, one of the Peruvian players with the greatest planetary fame; the Paraguayan Celino Mora, selected from his country; and the diminutive scorer Nelsinho, plus the happy appearance of the leading scorer Víctor Peláez. The Barcelona of 1990 was the one that with the greatest splendor filled history gold and red.
He combined youth and experience. It had Carlos Luis Morales in the frame, who filled the memory with brilliant chapters. His defense was a barrier for rival attacks: Jimmy Izquierdo, Jimmy Montanero, Wilson Macías, Freddy Bravo, Julio Guzmán. In the midfield the young Johnny Proaño lined up with world champion Marcelo Trobbiani (he was the same age as Damián Díaz today, but he played at a good pace for 90 minutes and was a real number 10), and Uruguayan Mario Saralegui, full of quality. In the vanguard were Carlos Muñoz, Manuel Uquillas (real scorer) and the Uruguayan Beto Acosta. This team left the luxurious River Plate of Fabián Basualdo, José, in the semifinals Tiburcio Serrizuela, Leonardo Astrada, Carlos Enrique, Ramón Medina Bello, Rubén Da Silva and other stars.
In the second leg at the Monumental, Morales saved, as in the first leg, a decisive penalty against Serrizuela. It was an epic day that produced the greatest emotion in Buenos Aires football until today. A perverse arbitration by Argentine Juan Carlos Loustau at the Monumental deprived Barcelona of winning the Libertadores.
Another good semifinalist team was that of the Cup in 1992. Barcelona brought in an excellent number 10 a year earlier: Rubén Insúa, with a past in their national team, San Lorenzo, Estudiantes, Las Palmas and Independiente de Avellaneda. He also had the Albiceleste Pedro Damián Monzón, world runner-up in Italy 1990, the Argentine Ángel Bernuncio and the Brazilian Gilson de Souza. With them were José Cevallos, Montanero, Raúl Noriega, Carlos Muñoz, José Gavica, David Bravo. In the semifinals he played the famous Sao Paulo de Telé Santana with whom he lost in Morumbí 3-0, but beat him in the Monumental 2-0. He was left out on goal difference.
The 1998 one reached the final, but lacked the quality of the 1990 one, despite having notable players such as Luis Capurro, Hólger Quiñónez, Montanero, Marcelo Pepo Morales, Nicolás Asencio. The team that fell to Flamengo has one merit: dignity, attitude to face the challenge of the Cup, in which it left some greats on the road. Its leaders set out to form a competitive squad, but faced the impossibility of making higher-ranking signings.
Barcelona lacks influential figures in the game and those who had that virtue are no longer in a physical condition to contribute much. They have already completed their cycle. The first 20 minutes of visiting against Flamengo showed the inability of their forwards to score goals. His midfield neither creates nor obstructs and his defense gives many advantages. Only goalkeeper Javier Burrai is saved. The others are saved by journalistic exaggerations. The team that someone called “wonderful” was left out of the final, they scored four goals and scored none. He made an effort, he did not surrender, but he fell to an opponent who surpassed him in all phases of the game. (OR)