Barcelona gospel reaches America as Under 11s teach Arsenal youngsters a lesson
23:10 GMT, 17 July 2012
At first glance this video could be a random Barcelona academy match against a group of Arsenal youngsters at La Masia de Can Planes.
Barcelona, just like the ultra-successful senior side, pass and pass before they pass the ball into the net. Their Spanish speaking coach only has words of encouragement from the sidelines as his Under 11 team interchange positions at will.
Word such as 'atras' (pass it back), 'ayudale' (help him), 'cometelo' (skin him), 'cambiala' (switch it), 'toca' (touch) and 'vuelve a empezar' (start again) are frequently heard during this 12-minute masterclass.
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The future's bright: The young Barca players celebrate a goal against Arsenal (and below)
In between the praise for his players, an English coach is overheard bellowing instructions from the sidelines. The aggressive nature of them will be familiar to anyone with even a passing knowledge of youth level football and will come as no surprise.
'Get in there', 'go to him', 'you've got to get your man', 'hurry up, Matthew', 'drop it', 'get back' and 'get over there', can be made out.
Barcelona beat them 6-0, but this is no ordinary academy team in action. Instead it is a club in California affiliated to the Catalans and passing on the total football principles established under Johan Cruyff.
The Arsenal team they were playing in the semi-final of the California State in March has no official connection with Arsene Wenger's team.
Perhaps, given the context of the communication between the English coach and his young players, it is just as well. It is not just the red and blue striped shirts that are instantly recognisable. Instead it is the unique pattern of play, with every member of the team comfortable in possession and always making themselves available.
When they lose it, they immediately
begin to work out how to win it back, just like the team that has won La
Liga 11 times and the Champions League on four occasions since Cruyff
laid down the principles of total football.
Aspiration: The Barca youngsters in America play in the same style as their Catalan heroes
They have cornered the market and the danger is that they are beginning to establish a network of feeder clubs operating under the same philosophy around the world.
Barcelona USA's objective is to equip their players with the same technical skills that are passed on through generations at La Masia. In 2010, for the first time in the history of the FIFA World Player of the Year, the top three ranked stars all came through the same academy.
La Masia is a conveyor belt for young talent, but Barcelona’s search for the best young players is being converted in other countries.
Messi was brought over from his hometown of Rosario in Argentina to learn the skills that would turn him into the world’s best player at the age of 11.
The next generation of Barcelona recruits are being schooled at their academies and given the opportunity to work at La Masia if they recognised as outstanding young talent.
Last year Brian Brabin, the full-time academy coach at Barcelona USA, took his Under-11 team to the mothership and drew 2-2 with the full-time recruits at La Masia. That result is recognition for Brabin's work, the gold standard for a team that is training and playing its matches in the USA.
VIDEO: Barca pass masters teach young Gunners a lesson
They are rarely beaten, sticking to their passing and possession principles and accepting that on a rare occasion they will be beaten by a kick and rush team. Last year one of Brabin's players, Ben Leadermen, went on trial at La Masia and has never come back.
He is about to begin his second year and his progress has been so rapid that he has been given the coveted No10 jersey, the same as the master himself. Most of Brabin’s players are Hispanic or south American, drawn to Barcelona USA by the promise that they will pick up the habits of the best in the business.
Many of the principles were established by Cruyff when he became manager of Barcelona in 1988, ahead of the game when it came to football's gravy train.
The Spanish federation jumped on board ten years ago, replicating the structure throughout the country and rigidly sticking to it throughout the transition phase.
Their patience has been rewarded with
success at junior, youth and senior level, winning two European
Championships and the World Cup since 2008.
New era: Barca's new boss Tito Vilanova (right) has huge boots to fill after the departure of Pep Guardiola
Other countries, such as England, are still stuttering along, clutching on to their FIFA ranking as evidence of their status within the game. FA chief executive Brian Barwick promised 'root and branch' reform when England failed to qualify for Euro 2008 under Steve McClaren.
Four years on it is all about Burton and the FA's learning centre in the middle of the Staffordshire countryside. No doubt they are looking beyond lumping it up to the big man, but it may be too late.