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This Sunday, Barça play the first game of the Liga 2020/21 campaign. It’s going to be a season marked by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, with games at Camp Nou being played behind closed doors, meaning no supporters to cheer on the team. The We did it and we will message being launched today is FC Barcelona’s way of calling on its members and fans around the world to feel confident and hopeful about things to come, with a video emphasising how blaugrana history shows that no matter how difficult things have been in the past “nobody will ever break us”. It’s a line taken from Cant del Barça, the club anthem, and that now rings truer than ever in the wake of a difficult last season and at the dawn of a new one.
Barça will be 121 years old on November 29, and the club’s history is not just about success, but more importantly it is one of persistence, determination in the face of adversity and healthy ambition. Barça have tumbled many a time, but with their fans behind them through even the most troubled of times, they have always got back up on their feet.
In the 1960s and 1970s, FC Barcelona became the ultimate sporting symbol of Catalonia, after putting setbacks like the 1961 European Cup Final in Bern behind them, when the woodwork got between them and their first continental title. The Barça fans responded, showing how they are the real drivers of the club, and although the team didn’t win any league titles from 1960 to 1974, the number of club members constantly rose.
It was that renewed strength that led to the 1973/74 season going down in the annals of Barça history. The arrival of Johan Cruyff, the world’s greatest player at the time, heralded in a new era, and with the unforgettable 5-0 win at the Bernabéu included, the 14-year trophy drought was ended.
Just over a decade later, in 1988, the Dutchman inspired another turning point at the club, this time as manager. He led the team to Cup Winners’ Cup glory in Bern in 1989, making up for the disappointment of losing to Steaua Bucharest in the 1986 European Cup Final. That win was just the beginning of what would be known as the Dream Team era, when the club finally won its first European Cup at Wembley, and also won an incredible four consecutive league titles and a number of other trophies besides. This was the period when Barça truly started to be a global phenomenon, admired the world over for its creative style of play that always had the ball at the centre.
This glorious era came to a sudden end in the 1994 Champions League Final in Athens, which brought heavy defeat to Milan. But far from surrender, Barça bounced straight back up under another Dutchman, Louis van Gaal, who won the league and cup double in his first year as manager, 1997, and won the league again the year after with players like Rivaldo, Kluivert, Luis Enrique and Guardiola.
Big things also happened with Frank Rijkaard as manager from 2003, and with the team led by Ronaldinho. That side put smiles back on Barça faces after four dry seasons. With the Brazilian dazzling on the pitch, Barça climbed from a miserable twelfth position to eventually finish the season runners-up. But that was just the start of it. Since then, the trophies have never stopped coming.
Barça’s most glittering era of all had arrived. Between 2004/05 and 2019/20, the team won an amazing 34 major trophies and was widely regarded as the greatest team in Europe and by extension the whole of the world. Masterminded on the field by Leo Messi, the greatest player that football has ever seen, and with Rijkaard succeeded by Pep Guardiola, Tito Vilanova, Tata Martino, Luis Enrique and Ernesto Valverde, the team won at least one trophy every year apart from 2007/08.
That painful Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich earlier in 2020 seemed to mark the end of an era. But instead it has sparked an overhaul of the team, including the homecoming of Ronald Koeman, the hero of Wembley, a club legend and coach who has all the charisma and experience required to lead the transition towards a new era of blaugrana success.
And that is what this message of hope, based on the club’s own history, is all about. The video, and the idea of ‘we did it and we will’, are all about how although recent times have been far from our best, Barça will always be Barça, and with the fans’ help will rise again and produce yet more memorable moments.
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