Barcelona, Spain. November 29, 1899. Eleven men held a meeting at the Gimnasio Solé, arranged by Swiss-born Hans-Max Kamper, a businessman and sports enthusiast. Kamper would take up the Catalan name Joan Gamper after learning the language whilst living in the Catalonia region.
Ten like-minded men would answer his request for a “foot-ball” club, and Football Club Barcelona was born. The team was comprised of both foreigners and Catalan-born players. While Gamper was the instrumental piece of FC Barcelona’s first twenty-five years of existence, he could have never imagined the global effect the football club and multi-sport institution would have today.
Millions and millions of fans around the world know FC Barcelona. From the players and their commercial and charitable appeal, to the trademark blaugrana color scheme and ethics, all the way to the Camp Nou, a stadium revered by sporting fans as hallowed ground. The identity of FC Barcelona is deeply rooted in its origins in Catalonia and the Catalan people – those same people that have elevated the club as more than a club. The club has celebrated the most glorious of victories, and wallowed in the most bitter of defeats. Political strife had even forced the club to usurp their identity for a period. But, through it all, FC Barcelona has been the team of the people.
We will take a look of a few of Barcelona’s best periods in its’ 115-year history. A club with so many memorable moments would overwhelm even the most astute of historians.
Pep Guardiola and Tiki-Taka Run Rampant (2008-2012)
The most recent memory of FC Barcelona etched in the minds of soccer fans around the world has to be their dominant run from 2008 through 2012 with manager Josep Guardiola. Guardiola’s teams utilized the tiki-taka style of play developed in Spain. Originally coined as a term when the Spanish national team where playing in the 2006 FIFA World Cup, the style’s best attributes were in the short and precise passing, constant movement and absorbing possession of the ball. With Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas and Lionel Messi, all players that have grown from the club’s youth program in La Masia, FC Barcelona were on another level. Barcelona would win three consecutive La Liga titles, two Copa del Reys, two UEFA Champions League titles, two FIFA Club World Cups and even more silverware. In 2009, the club accomplished a sextuple, with the continental treble (La Liga, UEFA Super Cup and Champions League), along with a Copa del Rey, Spanish Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup.
Barça: Johan Cruyff’s Dream Team (1990-1994)
A lot of people owe Barcelona’s success over the past twenty-five years to one of the sport’s most influential people: Dutchman Johan Cruyff. Cruyff came to Barcelona from Dutch champions Ajax in 1973 for a then-world record $2 million. Cruyff was a product of the Total Football system in the Netherlands that was fluid and innovative, and was regarded as a tactical and technical genius. It was through Cruyff that FC Barcelona created the youth academy La Masia in 1979.
Cruyff would return as a manager in 1989. Through Cruyff’s guidance, he’d bring in several players from within Spain like a young Pep Guardiola, and international stars like Gheorghe Hagi, Michael Laudrup, Hristo Stoichkov and Romario. With this “Dream Team,” Barcelona would coast to four consecutive La Liga titles from 1991 through 1994. The club’s crowning achievement was the 1992 European Cup, the predecessor to the Champions League. Ronald Koeman’s 112th minute goal boosted a dramatic 1-0 victory over Italy’s Sampdoria in the final after extra time. Cruyff’s Barcelona would win eleven titles in this period in total, and would resign in 1996.
Barcelona’s Roaring Forties and Fifties (1944-1953)
Although FC Barcelona’s most lopsided defeat came against El Clasico derby foe Real Madrid in the Generalismo’s Cup (Renamed from the Copa del Rey when General Francisco Franco came into power in Spain), Barcelona enjoyed great success in the league during this period. However, due to Franco’s regime, Futbol Club Barcelona had to remove all ties to the Catalan region and language, and had to play as Club de Futbol Barcelona. The forced changes proved to unfaze the the club, as Barcelona would win five league titles over the span of 9 seasons from 1944 to 1953, with legendary Spanish forward César Rodríguez leading the way. It was also during this time that the club would rely in their supporters, who in turn helped their club avoid financial turmoil. The supporters made the club a symbol against Franco’s regime and would even raise funds to build the Camp Nou.
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