Barcelona forward Lionel Messi reacts during the Spanish Copa del Rey final against Real Madrid at the Mestalla in Valencia on April 16, 2014. Dani Pozo / AFP
Barcelona forward Lionel Messi reacts during the Spanish Copa del Rey final against Real Madrid at the Mestalla in Valencia on April 16, 2014. Dani Pozo / AFP

Barcelona can rise again despite backlash against style of play



The 1980s were drawing to a close and U2, the most successful rock band of the decade, looked to be a spent force. Their latest album, Rattle And Hum, had polarised opinion. The general consensus was the group had run out of ideas.

“We have to go away and dream it all up again,” Bono famously said at a concert in Dublin on December 30, 1989. It was the end of an era.

As Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta watched Atletico Madrid and bitter rivals Real Madrid fight for the Uefa Champions League on Saturday, it is tempting to think they were thinking something along those lines.

Last Sunday Barcelona surrendered the Primera Liga to Atletico at Camp Nou and, for the third season running, were nowhere to be seen when the continent’s top prize was contested.

Barca’s golden age, the age of tiki taka, is seemingly over. If it is, then Messi and his teammates should be thanked for flirting with football perfection like no other team.

Yet there is a distinct whiff of schadenfreude surrounding their slow demise.

It is no surprise. The modern football fan is not the most empathetic of creatures. Witness the season-long wallowing in the misfortunes of David Moyes and Manchester United, or the widespread celebration of Steven Gerrard’s infamous slip against Chelsea.

It is part of the intertribal banter, sometimes vitriol, that has always existed in football.

Far more puzzling is the haste with which Barcelona’s entire football philosophy has been discredited. Tiki taka has been “found out”, critics claim ungenerously – six years suddenly invalidated.

Football ideology is one thing, but successful teams come in cycles. Barcelona have simply reached the natural end of a glorious one.

Managerial changes, injuries, collective loss of form and old age have all contributed. But the Barcelona of 2008-2014 should be always revered as one of football's greatest, most innovative teams.

Historically, club and international teams that revolutionised football have been fetishised by experts and fans. Even in failure.

Hungary’s stunning loss to West Germany in the 1954 World Cup final has hardly diminished the legacy of Ferenc Puskas, Nandor Hidegkuti and Sandor Kocsis. In fact, history has only embellished the legend of the “Mighty Magyars”.

At the start of the 1970s, the Dutch, led by Rinus Michels on the sideline and Johann Cruyff on the pitch, redefined the modern game with “Total Football”. Ajax won three European Cups, but the Netherlands’ defeat to West Germany in the 1974 World Cup final signalled the end of those parallel cycles.

There was nothing intrinsically wrong, or unsustainable, with Total Football – as shown by the Netherlands’ spiritual brothers Denmark in 1986 – it just relied on the right, gifted players playing the right tactics at the right time.

Then there is Brazil at the 1982 World Cup in Spain, who are often rated the greatest team to have not won the competition. A team that shone brightly but all too fleetingly.

These teams are mythologised as much for their heroic failures as their successes.

You can forgive this trophy -laden Barcelona for feeling somewhat unloved by comparison.

But even the greatest teams of the past 50 years have had long-term success punctuated by ending cycles, typically of three or four years.

Bob Paisley’s unprecedented success in nine years as Liverpool manager notably came with two teams, while Manchester United’s era of obscene success under Sir Alex Ferguson was achieved with three great teams, demarcated by barely noticeable lean periods (comparatively speaking).

The AC Milans of Arrigo Sacchi and Fabio Capello of the 1980s and 1990s – the team mostly compared to modern Barcelona – are rightly fabled for their pressing game and entertaining football.

Yet the golden era of Ruud Gullit, Marco van Basten and Frank Rijkaard everyone remembers lasted roughly between 1989-1992. The team that annihilated Barcelona in the 1994 Champions League final was part of the next cycle.

Then there is the Brazil tam of 1970, perhaps the most adored football side of all. Pele, Rivelino, Carlos Alberto, Tostao and Jairzinho. A blur of yellow and blue that elevated football to art on the way to winning the World Cup in Mexico.

Within three years that golden team’s natural cycle had ended and few associate it with the Brazil that contested the 1974 World Cup, a cynical embarrassment to the previous generation.

So why only grudging respect for Barcelona, who never deviated from their principles?

Perhaps it is a 21st century phenomenon. Modern football’s obsession with contextualising success and failure within a never-ending narrative. One day a genius, the next day a fraud.

Boring, self-indulgent and a parody of itself. Barcelona’s football, like U2’s music all those years ago, has been savaged by a cynical and impatient public.

Yet when the Irish band returned in 1991, it was with their masterpiece album, Achtung, Baby.

The challenge for new Barcelona manager Luis Enrique and his players is clear. They must go away and dream it all up again.

akhaled@thenational.ae

EMIRATES'S REVISED A350 DEPLOYMENT SCHEDULE

Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

Source: Emirates

Sonchiriya

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Producer: RSVP Movies, Azure Entertainment

Cast: Sushant Singh Rajput, Manoj Bajpayee, Ashutosh Rana, Bhumi Pednekar, Ranvir Shorey

Rating: 3/5

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An exchange traded fund is a type of investment fund that can be traded quickly and easily, just like stocks and shares. They come with no upfront costs aside from your brokerage's dealing charges and annual fees, which are far lower than on traditional mutual investment funds. Charges are as low as 0.03 per cent on one of the very cheapest (and most popular), Vanguard S&P 500 ETF, with the maximum around 0.75 per cent.

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While the best-known track major indices such as MSCI World, the S&P 500 and FTSE 100, you can also invest in specific countries or regions, large, medium or small companies, government bonds, gold, crude oil, cocoa, water, carbon, cattle, corn futures, currency shifts or even a stock market crash. 

Zombieland: Double Tap

Director: Ruben Fleischer

Stars: Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone

Four out of five stars 

What is blockchain?

Blockchain is a form of distributed ledger technology, a digital system in which data is recorded across multiple places at the same time. Unlike traditional databases, DLTs have no central administrator or centralised data storage. They are transparent because the data is visible and, because they are automatically replicated and impossible to be tampered with, they are secure.

The main difference between blockchain and other forms of DLT is the way data is stored as ‘blocks’ – new transactions are added to the existing ‘chain’ of past transactions, hence the name ‘blockchain’. It is impossible to delete or modify information on the chain due to the replication of blocks across various locations.

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Squad

Ali Kasheif, Salim Rashid, Khalifa Al Hammadi, Khalfan Mubarak, Ali Mabkhout, Omar Abdulrahman, Mohammed Al Attas, Abdullah Ramadan, Zayed Al Ameri (Al Jazira), Mohammed Al Shamsi, Hamdan Al Kamali, Mohammed Barghash, Khalil Al Hammadi (Al Wahda), Khalid Essa, Mohammed Shaker, Ahmed Barman, Bandar Al Ahbabi (Al Ain), Al Hassan Saleh, Majid Suroor (Sharjah) Walid Abbas, Ahmed Khalil (Shabab Al Ahli), Tariq Ahmed, Jasim Yaqoub (Al Nasr), Ali Saleh, Ali Salmeen (Al Wasl), Hassan Al Muharami (Baniyas) 

Profile of Tamatem

Date started: March 2013

Founder: Hussam Hammo

Based: Amman, Jordan

Employees: 55

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Notable salonnières of the Middle East through history

Al Khasan (Okaz, Saudi Arabia)

Tamadir bint Amr Al Harith, known simply as Al Khasan, was a poet from Najd famed for elegies, earning great renown for the eulogy of her brothers Mu’awiyah and Sakhr, both killed in tribal wars. Although not a salonnière, this prestigious 7th century poet fostered a culture of literary criticism and could be found standing in the souq of Okaz and reciting her poetry, publicly pronouncing her views and inviting others to join in the debate on scholarship. She later converted to Islam.

Maryana Marrash (Aleppo)

A poet and writer, Marrash helped revive the tradition of the salon and was an active part of the Nadha movement, or Arab Renaissance. Born to an established family in Aleppo in Ottoman Syria in 1848, Marrash was educated at missionary schools in Aleppo and Beirut at a time when many women did not receive an education. After touring Europe, she began to host salons where writers played chess and cards, competed in the art of poetry, and discussed literature and politics. An accomplished singer and canon player, music and dancing were a part of these evenings.

Princess Nazil Fadil (Cairo)

Princess Nazil Fadil gathered religious, literary and political elite together at her Cairo palace, although she stopped short of inviting women. The princess, a niece of Khedive Ismail, believed that Egypt’s situation could only be solved through education and she donated her own property to help fund the first modern Egyptian University in Cairo.

Mayy Ziyadah (Cairo)

Ziyadah was the first to entertain both men and women at her Cairo salon, founded in 1913. The writer, poet, public speaker and critic, her writing explored language, religious identity, language, nationalism and hierarchy. Born in Nazareth, Palestine, to a Lebanese father and Palestinian mother, her salon was open to different social classes and earned comparisons with souq of where Al Khansa herself once recited.

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

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Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)

David Haye record

Total fights: 32
Wins: 28
Wins by KO: 26
Losses: 4

Australia squads

ODI: Tim Paine (capt), Aaron Finch (vice-capt), Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Nathan Lyon, Glenn Maxwell, Shaun Marsh, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, D’Arcy Short, Billy Stanlake, Marcus Stoinis, Andrew Tye.

T20: Aaron Finch (capt), Alex Carey (vice-capt), Ashton Agar, Travis Head, Nic Maddinson, Glenn Maxwell, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, D’Arcy Short, Billy Stanlake, Marcus Stoinis, Mitchell Swepson, Andrew Tye, Jack Wildermuth.

Scores in brief:

Boost Defenders 205-5 in 20 overs
(Colin Ingram 84 not out, Cameron Delport 36, William Somerville 2-28)
bt Auckland Aces 170 for 5 in 20 overs
(Rob O’Donnell 67 not out, Kyle Abbott 3-21).

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Name: Kinetic 7
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Industry: Clean cooking
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Kill

Director: Nikhil Nagesh Bhat

Starring: Lakshya, Tanya Maniktala, Ashish Vidyarthi, Harsh Chhaya, Raghav Juyal

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Company: Eco Way
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Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside

MATCH INFO

Champions League quarter-final, first leg

Ajax v Juventus, Wednesday, 11pm (UAE)

Match on BeIN Sports

How to improve Arabic reading in early years

One 45-minute class per week in Standard Arabic is not sufficient

The goal should be for grade 1 and 2 students to become fluent readers

Subjects like technology, social studies, science can be taught in later grades

Grade 1 curricula should include oral instruction in Standard Arabic

First graders must regularly practice individual letters and combinations

Time should be slotted in class to read longer passages in early grades

Improve the appearance of textbooks

Revision of curriculum should be undertaken as per research findings

Conjugations of most common verb forms should be taught

Systematic learning of Standard Arabic grammar

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Started: July 2016

Founders: Mukesh Bansal and Ankit Nagori

Based: Bangalore, India

Sector: Health & wellness

Size: 500 employees

Investment: $250 million

Investors: Accel, Oaktree Capital (US); Chiratae Ventures, Epiq Capital, Innoven Capital, Kalaari Capital, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Piramal Group’s Anand Piramal, Pratithi Investment Trust, Ratan Tata (India); and Unilever Ventures (Unilever’s global venture capital arm)

Company Profile

Company name: Hoopla
Date started: March 2023
Founder: Jacqueline Perrottet
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 10
Investment stage: Pre-seed
Investment required: $500,000

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
Company profile

Name: Yodawy
Based: Egypt
Founders: Karim Khashaba, Sherief El-Feky and Yasser AbdelGawad
Sector:
HealthTech
Total funding: $24.5 million
Investors: Algebra Ventures, Global Ventures, MEVP and Delivery Hero Ventures, among others
Number of employees:
500

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Almouneer
Started: 2017
Founders: Dr Noha Khater and Rania Kadry
Based: Egypt
Number of staff: 120
Investment: Bootstrapped, with support from Insead and Egyptian government, seed round of
$3.6 million led by Global Ventures