As FC Barcelona lifted its first FIFA Club World Cup trophy on 19th December 2009, they achieved something which nobody ever thought of. It was their 6th trophy of the year which is more commonly known as the Sextuple. The team was exceptional in every sense.
There was something special about that team. Players followed a philosophy which was unique to Barcelona and its exemplary academy La Masia. La Masia is always talked about when the greats of Football are discussed. Be it from Lionel Messi to the midfield duo of Xavi and Iniesta or Busquets or be it Puyol or Pique, La Masia is the common thing between these greats.
The greatness of the academy can be understood by the fact that Tito Vilanova on 25th November 2012 won 4-0 against Levante ending the match with every player from the 1st to the 11th from the academy. Here we talk about La Masia. Its history and explore what made La Masia the best academy in the world.
La Masia History
‘La Masia’ is the catalan for ‘The Farmhouse’. The very name of it explains why most of the players that come out of this academy are always the best. The original building was made in the year 1702 by the name ‘La Masia de Can’ and was an ancient farmstead. Our home stadium, Camp Nou, was built in the year 1957 just next to La Masia. It initially served as the club’s headquarters, and all the club activities were run from there. In 1979, La Masia was first time used as a dormitory for housing players from outside the central city of Barcelona.
As the club activities were growing at a swift pace, a new building was needed to run the club and the academy. In 2011, Barcelona ceased the original building. Barca moved their activities to ‘Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper’ which became the new centre of the club to run the academy where the first team used to train since 2009.
I am what I am thanks to La Masia.
– Lionel Messi
La Masia’s Philosophy and FC Barcelona’s Success
One of the reasons why La Masia was so successful is the principles it was built on. From the lowest aged team to the first team, the philosophy is simple and clear. The philosophy that has brought so much success to the academy is a combination of Total Football combined with the traditional Spanish one-touch play commonly known as Tiki-Taka. The credit for the term ‘Barca DNA’ should be given to the revolutionist Johan Cruyff.
Cruyff established a very clear philosophy at Barcelona, he gave birth to that philosophy, he created Barça’s DNA.
– Xavi on Johan Cruyff
Another important reason for the success Barca enjoyed was never to let this philosophy die. The technique of dominance on the ball and to move it as if it is gliding over a wet surface was the reason FC Barcelona were able to tear apart their opposition. This philosophy was used to its maximum potential under Pep Guardiola. With a team of players honed by La Masia, a manager who was a student of Cruyff, Barcelona changed how people used to watch Football. Fans were excited not by the result, but how Barcelona played. Defeats and draws were never a disappointment as fans were always satisfied by the style of play.
The most important part are the fans, that people going home are happy. It’s their time off, and you should give them something to enjoy.
– Johan Cruyff
What’s wrong today and what can be done ?
The current outcome from the academy have decreased drastically, and the blame is to the bad planning by the FC Barcelona board. The success that FC Barcelona enjoyed was due to a unique formula. The style of play and players who were honed by the prestigious academy was the formula of success. But that has changed from the past few years. It is evident from the fact that Barca’s success has dried up. Spanish Journalist Xavi Torres blamed the Masia 360 programme for the current condition, along with many reasons.
The planning of the board is to blame for the current scenario the academy is facing. FC Barcelona has always relied on its academy. Right now, it is not failing. It is being ignored. FC Barcelona was never a team to splash millions on players. The patience and trust in La Masia were broken. And as soon as it happened, Barca started to splash money without even analyzing the players they bought.
If Barca wants to compete for the highest level, as they should be, they have to start again trusting the academy and with utmost patience as it has players who can be the future of the Barca team. The investments that Barca has made under the current board are mostly failures and have costed the club big time. The strategy for the future is investing in youth and the Barcelona elections next year gives the best opportunity for Barca to click that reset button and start from scratch.