Saturday, 26 May 2012

Josep Guardiola - End of an Era part 1

Josep Guardiola ended his trophy laden 4 year reign as king of Barcelona and Europe last night and was able to celebrate his 14th trophy in 4 years: the Spanish Kings Cup. A virtual unknown when appointed as Barca boss in 2008 succeeding Frank Rijkaard a Dutch legend in the managerial world. A former Barca great pep was winner of the champions league in 92 and a key member of Cruyff`s dream team so was known amongst Catalans in Catalonia. His first move as Barcelona manager was to sell Barca legends Ronaldinho and Deco and was on the verge of selling Cameroonian Samuel Etoo but decides against it. Using the money from the sales he buys future Barcelona greats in the form of Dani Alves and Gerard Pique.

The first season turns to be Guardiola`s greatest and most successful. Tiki-taka football taken to the next level. He emphatically dethrone Spanish champions Real Madrid by hammering them at the Bernabeu 6-2. His team go on a 20 match unbeaten run during this season and never losing their deserved place at the pinnacle of La Liga.The story does not end there as Barcelona and Guardiola marched their way towards an emphatic 4-1 victory of Athletic Bilbao their opponents last night in the same final of the same competition. Yes the Copa Del Rey or the King`s Cup Guardiola`s first trophy as Barca boss as it was at the Mestalla that Barcelona laid there foundations on building their destiny however the greatest prize was yet to come.

Barcelona began their champions league adventure at the third qualifying round emphatically beating Wisla Krakow 4-0 with Etoo scoring the first goal. Barcelona are drawn alongside Sporting CP, Shakhtar Donetsk and Basel. Their first game against Sporting CP ends with a comfortable win (3-1).Their second was very different. 1-0 down against Donetsk with 4 minutes and stoppage time Guardiola needed someone to step up as they were frustrated badly, but step up Barca`s number 10 yes Lionel Messi. Two goals at the death saves Barca from embarrassment and earn a vital win. A comprehensive win against lowly Basel followed and a draw followed. A win at the Jose Avalvde against Sporting assured Barca of qualification and in their final game at the Nou Camp Shakhtar silence the noisy crowd with a sensational win against Guardiola`s troops but it did not matter. Masterclass stuff from the most entertaining team in the world as they breeze past Lyon and Bayern Munich to set up a semi final clash against Guus Hiddink`s overachieving Chelsea. A sturdy performance from Chelsea gives them a 0-0 draw at the Nou Camp. The return leg officiated by Tom Henning Ovrebo at Stamford Bridge was worthy of an Oscar. Barca favourites for the tie do not start well as Chelsea take the lead through a stunning strike from 20 yards from none other than warrior Michael Essien. Despite Barcelona dominating possession it was Chelsea who looked more dangerous especially after Eric Abidal`s sending off with Chelsea claiming at least 4 penalties none being given by Ovrebo. Barcelona looked perplexed and anxiety filled the Barca section of the crowd. Chelsea were edging closer to a rematch against Manchester United in the final yet again but just as Guardiola looked to the skies in the 93rd minute Barcelona finally broke through and it was the "heart breaker" who struck again yes Andres Iniesta. Ovrebo blew his whistle and Guardiola could not believe what he`d just done; taken Barcelona to the UEFA champions league final against the reigning European Champions Manchester United. Chelsea were furious and that cued for Drogba infamous rant " it`s a disgrace it`s a disgrace it`s a f***ing disgrace". The match was dubbed by journalists as the "BATTLE OF STAMFORD BRIDGE". The final approached Messi vs Ronaldo, Xavi vs Scholes and Etoo vs Rooney and more importantly Guardiola vs Sir Alex Ferguson. We thought it would close and tense and that was the case for the first seven minutes but from then on it was all Barca and Messi as Barcelona stormed to their first European crown in 3 years. Guardiola etched his name in the history books by becoming the youngest even Champions league winning manger at the tender age of 38 and secures the treble in emphatic fashion to become the first Spaniard to win the treble in La Liga history.

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