FC Barcelona: Being a True Culé: The 10 Commandments for Real Blaugrana Fans
This being the first time Barcelona is a true winning club, we are sure to see Barça's fan number go up exponentially. With time, some of the new fans will become true Culés in their own right, while others will only come on board while the championships continue to arrive at Camp Nou.
Both of these already know (or should know) a few of Barça's traditions. They have surely seen Messi, Xavi, Iniesta and company show their skills and win titles. They have heard El Cant del Barça, even if they might not know what it says. And will most certainly know that the Blaugrana considers itself més que un club.
The club motto is spot on: it is more than a club. But like the club, being a true bluagrana fan, a true Culé, is also more than a fan.
This list will try to provide you the true 10 qualities (or commandments, if you will) that differentiate the common football fan that enjoys Barcelona play, from the true Culé. The true Barça fan.
1. You Shall Have No Other Teams Before Barça
Being a true Barcelona fan (or any other club's, for that matter), is very much like having a religion: you just can't have more than one that you like the best.
That doesn't mean, however, that you have to be a fanatic and hate every other team. What it means is that FC Barcelona will be above any other you might like.
You can actually appreciate or even like other teams.
But none above Barça.
2. You Shall Not Make for Yourself an Idol Above the Team
This will be a difficult commandment for some, but just like Barça is més que un club it is definitely més que Messi. Or any other player, for that matter.
Football is a team sport, and Barcelona takes pride on teamwork above individuality.
It is not wrong to admit Messi is the most talented player in the world and we should be proud to have him playing at the Camp Nou. But we should be objective with him and other players, and accept that Barça comes first and above any given player. No matter how good they are.
If you like Messi above Barcelona, it's plain and simple: you're a Messi fan. Not a Culé.
My recommendation: to leave that praise for a single player for football fanatics. Not for true fans of football. Or Barcelona, for that matter.
If you like individual performances instead of team play, you'll always have tennis or boxing waiting for you on the wings.
3. Do Not Take the Word of Cruyff in Vain
If you like everything you see in Barça, you have to thank Johan.
As a player he was surely great, but it's as a coach and a "philosopher" of football that he became Barça's most important figure ever.
The possession and attacking play you see every Barcelona match? Cruyff brought it with him form the Netherlands and Rinus Michel's historic "total football" ideals.
The idea of creating players for your system instead of buying them from the outside? Yep, all Cruyff's. He brought it from Ajax's youth system to Catalonia.
Simply put, he's the originator of the pure idea that makes Barça what it is today.
Rijkaard and Guardiola might have perfected it, but Cruyff is the mastermind that started it all.
My recommendation: don't miss his weekly column at El Periódico. You just won't get Barça insight like his.
4. Remember the 1992 Dream Team and Keep It Holy
Speaking of Cruyff's achievements...
It also didn't hurt that the Dutchman won the club's first Champions League (then European Cup) against Sampdoria in 1992.
Before that, it would be difficult to speak of Barcelona as one of Europe's top clubs, let alone the best one.
It's just that simple.
So remember Cruyff's lineup on that day:
Ferrer, Nando, Koeman, Juan Carlos
Bakero, Guardiola, Laudrup
Eusebio Sacristán, Salinas, Stoichkov
5. Honor Your Heroes of the Past
My personal story with Barça began with two players: Rivaldo and Luis Figo.
That team I saw in my younger days was in no way a winning team, but it still had the spirit that you see in every Barcelona match today.
But at that time, I was more interested in individual players than the team.
Until Luis Figo left Barcelona for Real Madrid, that is.
That's when you can say I became a real Culé: my favourite player on the club left, yet I remained a Barcelona fan.
This reinforces my number two point, which I learned the hard way: love your players and remember the stars that made you a Barça fan in the first place. Appreciate everything they brought to the club.
But not without being mindful that players can leave (or stop performing) any day.
FC Barcelona won't.
6. You Shall Not Part from the 4-3-3, and Possesion/Attacking Football
FC Barcelona has become a synonym for attacking football and for exploiting possession.
Their Dutch-inspired 4-3-3 has also become a trademark.
But make no mistake about it; playing this kind of football makes it harder to win. It might also make it more rewarding when the day ends and you have both the trophies and the playing style to show for it, but if anything isn't in tip-top shape tactically or in terms of talent or locker room atmosphere, you'll end up empty handed.
What I'm trying to say is this: it's very hard to win and to do it pretty, so as a Barça fan, style will always be more important than winning championships.
The way you win will always be more important than winning itself, because even if you might lose (like Barça did against Inter in the Champions League last season), in the end you become a stronger team.
If you're not ready to accept this, you can always cheer for a club with a different philosophy.
7. You Shall Not Cheer for Real Madrid
The hated rivals.
I really don't think I need to explain this one further.
The image is self-explanatory by itself.
8. You Shall Not Desire to Buy Players
If you like teams that enjoy their offseasons buying the best player available for every position like they're playing Football Manager, you're cheering for the wrong club.
Barça is not Arsenal either, and will make a big splash or two every few years, but the norm is building the team up with youth players while adding one or two world-class signings to keep the squad competitive.
That means that this season, for example, there is absolutely no chance you will see Alexis Sánchez, Neymar and Cesc together at the Camp Nou.
There's also a very good chance you won't see either.
9. You Shall Not Bear False Witness Against Fair Play
Barça is above all a team that behaves according to fair play on the pitch.
That means no faking, no time-wasting, no tackles trying to injure, and so forth.
What of Sergi Busquets, you ask?
His behavior is unacceptable. He's the best holding midfielder for Barça and was bred to play there, but faking just doesn't cut it.
But just like we won't accept bad fair play on our end, we despise it when it comes from others.
In that regard, have no doubt about it, Madrid have absolutely nothing to complain about.
If I have to explain why, you should be reading the 10 commandments for a true Merengue.
10. You Shall Not Covet Anything That Belongs to Real Madrid
Being very objective, I absolutely love some of the players Real Madrid have.
Mesut Özil and Cristiano Ronaldo are two players I consider to be world-class talents.
That said, I prefer having Messi and Iniesta any day of the week.
Madrid have nine Champions League titles, but I prefer the measly four Barça has because of the way they were won.
Simply put, there is nothing to envy. If anything, the envy should (and probably does) come the other way.
Fulfilling this commandment wasn't always as simple because Madrid and Barça weren't as level as they are now. There were times when not envying the hated rival was actually quite hard, brimming on impossible.
But right now, there's just no reason to want to be like them.
In any way.
Not as a true Culé, at least.
Follow me on Twitter @ehrli
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