BOOKED! Barca: The Making of the Greatest Team in the WorldGraham Hunter enlightens readers on the players and creation of FC Barcelona
by Chris Enger | Tuesday, March 06, 2012
Saturday, I got some time off from my usual weekend work in the afternoon, so I was able to watch the final 30 minutes of the FC Barcelona-Sporting Gijon match. Little did I know until Seydou Keita put Barca up 2-1 late in the second half that they were playing with only ten men, as Pique had been red-carded early in the second half. In stoppage time, Barcelona was reduced to nine men, when Alexis Sanchez went down with an injury. You wouldn’t have known they were short two men with the way they possessed the ball, before scoring a third goal to win 3-1.
The reason I went looking for the Barcelona match was because I had recently finished Graham Hunter’s new book Barca: The Making of the Greatest Team in the World.
Barca is a fascinating read that follows the different storylines that led to the creation of one of the best teams to ever play the sport. Is this hyperbole? Maybe. But Barcelona’s squads from 2009 to 2011 will go down as some of the greatest club sides ever, and just looking at the amount of silverware they won it is easy to see why.
In this nonfiction story, Hunter shares the individual players’ stories and backgrounds. This endears the reader to the athletes, the coach, the team, and the system. He weaves these individual tales with match recaps that help explain the team’s growth, chemistry, and toughness.
The way Hunter describes the club’s decision to hire Pep Guardiola and his implementation of the system he learned under former player-turned-coach Johan Cruyff makes one wonder why every team doesn’t implement the possession game. This, of course, is answered as the player profiles shine a light on why Barca’s system works. It is not just an implementation of a system. The style requires intelligent, quick thinking players that have been playing with one another for years. It needs players who have grown together through the youth system before making it to the first team.
Graham Hunter’s unimaginable access to the team allows the narrative to feel like it is told from a first-person perspective. With the people at his disposal for the book, the direct quotes make the reader a part of every heartache and celebration.
In conjunction with this, the profiles show the struggle each player has gone through to get to this point in their success. The “odd couple” relationship of center backs Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol is especially well written as it shows how two players who came from completely different upbringings and have opposite personalities could grow together to be such a dominate center pairing in the defense.
The book is masterful and must be read with YouTube handy so that the plays Hunter describes can be seen while being read. It is a must read for any soccer fan who enjoys the beautiful game the way Barca plays it.
Pickup your copy direct from the publishers at BackPage Press for £12.99 or as a downloadable e-book for £6.99 there and from various websites.