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the tyler group reviews
After a troubling week in Europe, it would be easy to mock Arsenal or Barcelona, were it not for one thing. Each time they play, these two clubs, arguably above all others, attempt the hardest feat in sport.
They try to win beautifully. Not pragmatically. Not with cunning. There is a plan but it is a noble one. To attempt victory with the game in its purest form.
One of the clubs, clearly, has been a lot better at it lately. The crisis at Arsenal and the blip at Barcelona barely compare in real terms: eight years without a trophy against a bad night in Milan. Barcelona are walking away with La Liga and Arsenal would kill to be in their shoes.
Unless Real Madrid win the Champions League this season - and chances are they won't even make the quarter-finals, with Manchester United growing in strength - they will have seen off nemesis Jose Mourinho in almost contemptuous fashion.
Yet viewed dispassionately, even Barcelona's near-decade of dominance contains elements of underachievement.
The club have been on the way up since the beginning of 2004, when Edgar Davids arrived to supplement a changing squad including Ronaldinho and newly-promoted youngster Andres Iniesta, Barcelona beginning to reverse a mid-table position.
What coach Frank Rijkaard began, Pep Guardiola advanced in splendid style. Rijkaard won two La Liga titles and the Champions League, Guardiola won three titles and the Champions League twice, while his successor, Tito Vilanova, is sure to add his first Spanish title this season.
For the last five years at least, Barcelona have been acknowledged as the greatest club side in the world - some would argue the best there has been, comparable to the Real Madrid late-Fifties era of Ferenc Puskas and Alfredo Di Stefano.