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Sunday Football - Barcelona style (Part 6): 'Barcelona Light'

Total Football's Spanish-based writer Jasmit Jabbal continues his column about Barcelona Sunday League side Darwins - and this week focuses on how they try to play like the mighty Barcelona, but so far haven't quite found their own version of Lionel Messi...

Impersonating Barca...

Last week I commented on how Darwins are more Levante than Barcelona. Well this weekend, we impersonated another side with Barca links. Whereas Levante share the same colours as Barcelona, this week we mimicked the side dubbed in recent years as ‘Barcelona Light’, Arsenal.

Arsenal recently made English Premier League history by becoming the first side to come back from behind and win on four consecutive occasions, demonstrating the spirit and character that many have criticised the side for not having in recent seasons.

In our last fixture, we did just that, but just like Arsenal against Milan, we did not quite get the job done as we came from 2-0 down to 2-2 and then responded to a last minute goal to salvage a 3-3 draw away to Terrassa.

After an hour-long journey to get to Terrassa, we were welcomed with a perfect pitch on a sunny day, hoping to finally play the flowing passing football we have been working on in training.

Chasing shadows 

Rodney decided to make a couple of changes to our midfield, but unfortunately they did not work out well and we were thoroughly outplayed in the first half. Not to say any individuals were to blame, the side as a whole did not keep the ball, and were chasing shadows.

Terassa scored two expertly-taken goals, one a real screamer from 20 yards out, to take a deserved two-goal lead into the break. Having secured this advantage, the home side decided to implement some underhand tactics to ensure they held on to get the win.

Firstly, whilst Rodney reshuffled our midfield, and gave us the hairdryer treatment, the groundsman decided to flood the side of the pitch we would be attacking. This left a pool of water between the edge of the area and the half way line on the left side of the pitch.

Ironically enough, this would come to our advantage. With Rodney’s words ringing in our ears, we started playing with a faster tempo and kept the ball. We passed it with pace and started to get in behind Terassa, getting crosses in from both wings.

Biased nature 

The referee, despite not awarding us a stone-wall penalty in the first half and then booking Rodney for question the decision, had seemed fairly unbiased in the first half. However in the second half, he did not even seem to hide his biased nature, booking players at first for questioning strange decisions, but then for no apparent reason (Matt got booked for smiling).

We got ourselves back in the game with Ciarion finishing delicately after the goalkeeper kicked the ball out to him. We then levelled through James Smeeth, I picked the ball in midfield and went on a run, with Smeeth shouting for the ball.

Having avoided a couple of challenges and ignoring him, I approached the flooded area of the pitch and had no choice but to lay it off, he then curled a real peach into the top corner. We flooded forward chasing a winner, despite the referee’s best efforts to send our players off for no reason.

However, just as we thought we were destined to score, Terrassa took the lead in the last minute. On reflection they had dominated the first half, and hit the post and forced an amazing save from Ben in the second, and could easily have felt they shaded the encounter to deserve the win. But we showed Arsenal-esque spirit and Ciarion scored right at the death to save a draw.

In the second half, chasing a game, we showed we can pass and attack, having won our previously three games thanks to our solid defence and counter-attacking style. Yes we are nowhere near Barcelona, but with every passing week we are inching toward playing that style.

By Jasmit Jabbal

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