Soccer is more than just a game; it is a religion, a form of art filled with emotion, both for the players as well as for the fans. Soccer brings people together, especially the fans supporting the same team. Before big games, fans participate in ritualistic behaviors in the hope of giving their team any advantage possible. In my opinion, soccer would not be the same without its widespread and fervent fandom. Once you start supporting a team, you cannot go back. In the famous words of Dennis Bergkamp, “When you start supporting a football club, you don’t support it because of the trophies, or a player, or history, you support it because you found yourself somewhere there; found a place where you belong”. Such is my relationship with Football Club Barcelona (FCB). The club’s motto, ‘mes que un club’, which translates to ‘more than a club’,b resonates with my idea of what a soccer team should stand for. Thus, it is only fitting that I write about the blog “Barca Blaugranes”.
Barcelona are widely considered to be one of the most successful clubs in world football, having won 5 Champions League titles and a staggering 24 La Liga titles. This has allowed them to attract some of the best talents (managers and players alike) over the years. Be it Pep Guardiola’s tactical genius, Ronaldinho’s dazzling feet and wide smile, Henry’s finesse, Valdes’ athleticism, Puyol’s leadership, Xavi’s intelligence or Messi’s ability to make the very best look helpless, Barca fans have seen it all. The fans make the Nou Camp a very hostile environment for enemy teams while they passionately cheer their hearts out for Barcelona. Their love for the club runs deep and true.
The Barca Blaugranes, one of SB Nation’s 320 blogs, is dedicated to celebrating this fandom. It has become a sort of community that is run by the fans and for the fans. The blog has 5 site managers, 2 editors and 2 authors who, put together, have been averaging around 180-200 articles a month for the last two years. This might seem like a lot, but these articles are usually short and are a great way to keep up to date with everything Barcelona. The writers focus on transfer news and rumours, pre-match previews that include line-ups, post-match analyses, injury updates as well as their opinions on the team’s performances, sometimes singling out individual players or the manager.
What struck me when I read some of the blog posts for the first time was the directness of the authors. Their tone is casual, and they are very concise, making the articles very easy to read. When they write, they are very matter of fact and avoid the urge to be fancy with their writing, which more often than not becomes annoying for the readers. They also include links to videos and tweets in many of their posts which, in my opinion, is a very nice touch. It increases the amount of information available to the readers without lengthening their posts. The authors are also very knowledgeable about the club and have insightful comments. One of the articles that stood out for me was about Barcelona’s current manager Ernesto Valverde. Ever since he took over the club and changed the longstanding 4-3-3 formation to a more balanced 4-4-2, he has been unfairly criticized by the Barca faithful, despite getting the club out of a tough period. The article by Martin Connolly emphasizes why Valverde deserves credit and not criticism.
I enjoy the detail that Barca Blaugranes offers. Due to the sheer volume of articles each month, every little bit of FCB related news is covered by this blog. The site is also designed well with a lot of visuals and well maintained, correctly dated archives. It is easy to navigate and it has a great search algorithm that allows users to effortlessly look up articles of interest. The biggest strength of the blog however, is that it is extremely well organized. The top of the page has a variety of headings which arrange the blog into different sections. These include ‘fanposts’, ‘fanshots’, ‘library’, ‘transfer rumours & news’, and ‘Champions League’. In addition to this, the home page has the most recent posts with a box to the side containing links to the latest posts by fans.
The fanposts section is particularly interesting to me because it allows site-goers to post freely on the blog. These posts are often engaging and passionate and sometimes incorporate humour, albeit less frequent. They are filled with predicted line-ups, opinions on which players should be signed in the future and thoughts about players (both good and bad). Each post also has many comments, enabling this section to serve as a platform for discussion and debate, somewhat like a forum. It paints a great picture about what the fans think of Barcelona. A couple of my favourite posts (‘Purists vs Results’ and ‘Thank God for Sergi Roberto’) are from this section. The first article talks about how while it is understandable that some fans are disappointed with the quality of football Barcelona have been playing off late, the fact that they are grinding out results game in and game out should not be ignored. This dichotomy of playing beautiful football vs winning and which one is more important is something that plagues the minds of Barca fans. I enjoyed the article on Sergi Roberto because it highlights his importance to Barcelona and recognizes that he is a highly underrated player. It is testament to the fact that Barca fans value young players, especially those that have come through the ranks of La Masia, FCB’s fabled youth academy. The fans also have a soft spot for players like Roberto and Busquets who are extremely talented but not necessarily appreciated by other soccer fans.
Finally, Barca Blaugranes adds a unique touch by including a fanshots section which includes links, videos, tweets, quotes and images related to FCB, posted by fans. This section of the blog is much less active but nonetheless engaging.
I would recommend this blog to anyone even remotely interested in Football Club Barcelona. It is well suited for both casual as well as die hard fans. However, given that each post is very soccer-centric, the readers should either have a basic understanding of, or passion for soccer. There are also a few posts that are not FCB specific, which could interest general soccer enthusiasts. My favorite among them being the piece on using VAR (Video Assistant Referee) in the La Liga for the 2018/19 season. I am an advocate of this technology and I would love for it to be used in La Liga since Barcelona have been the recipient of many unfair referee calls in the last couple of seasons. In general many soccer focused blogs try and capture headlines rather than stick to being factual, but I think Barca Blaugranes is good at keeping it truthful and simple. To conclude, SB Nation does a holistic job of covering sports teams, building a community that allows people to become better fans, as well as serve as a platform for them to acquire and impart wisdom!
1. “Barca Blaugranes, For Barcelona Fans.” Barca Blaugranes, www.barcablaugranes.com/.
2. “Honours.” FC Barcelona, www.fcbarcelona.com/football/card/honours-football.