Lionel Messi scoring 4 goals for the third time this season, taking his league tally to 50(!!!) goals and his overall production to 72 (!!!!) wasn’t even the biggest thing about Barcelona’s 4-0 derby win over Espanyol. Pep Guardiola saying his temporary goodbye to the Camp Nou after the win stole the show.
At least Barcelona still have something to play for, which got them worked up when facing their city rivals, who usually put up more of a fight. But Messi is trying to create as much separation as possible from Cristiano Ronaldo, and is simply rampaging since the loss to Real Madrid and the failure against Chelsea.
Or maybe it was all for Guardiola’s sake. It’s hard to remember any head coach getting a goodbye from over 80,000 fans, especially after only four seasons with the club. But what 4 seasons they have been. Barcelona will probably end up with only the Spanish Cup in 2011-2012, but that will make it 14 titles for Guardiola in his four year tenure. Johan Cruyff didn’t win that much in 8 seasons with the club.
There were a lot of tears and feeling of happiness, of fan-love, but also an ominous feeling of ‘things will never be the same.’ I’d hate to be Tito Vilanova when things don’t go like everyone have gotten used to. Unless the right kind of players are brought in, it doesn’t matter if he’s another tactical genius and dressing room phenom. Lionel Messi at his absolute best isn’t always enough, as this season proved.
As Guardiola’s tenure was about setting records in terms of quality, aesthetics and turning Barcelona’s into the world’s team for once and for all, whether you hate them or you love them, it was also about the numbers. No one has won three league titles in Spain since Cruyff’s Barca in the early 1990’s. Five consecutive Champions League semi finals (one under Rijkaard), two champions league titles in three years.
But in years from now, there will be one name everyone will remember from this Barcelona team, maybe the greatest in the history of club football in Europe. Lionel Messi. Not just because of his 50 goals in the La Liga and 72 goals in all competitions. Don’t be shocked if Messi isn’t too far from 80 when the curtain falls down on 2011-2012.