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They’re one of us now.

Barcelona have always been a bit of a higher being when it comes to football. They see things differently. They win differently.

Pep Guardiola and that golden generation of Barca stars reinvented the game. Their shape was fluid, positions were interchangeable and they didn’t even need a striker at times even though they were the deadliest outfit on the planet. They were a joy to watch with total football, with freedom of expression, with the ability to pass teams into vertigo and walk the ball into the net as they pleased.

That was the template for grassroots investigations the world over. Football in Britain was labelled archaic, simplistic, barbaric even. We were left behind as other nations and youth teams were becoming technically proficient and they were seeing possibilities that we couldn’t. They were producing football that was alien to this part of the globe.

Well, Barcelona have gone and changed everything again.

As the rest of the planet scrambles to catch up on a decade ago and they trip over themselves like Bambi trying to master tiki-taka, Ernesto Valverde has brought the Catalan giants right back to basics.

The new Barcelona manager has spread the greatest mind f**k since statisticians tried to count Xavi’s passes.

In what looks like, from a distance, a full U-turn from the trailblazing philosophy that set Barca apart, they’ve reverted back to the old-school shape.

Barcelona – yes, Barcelona – are playing 4-4-2.

Youth development…



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