We have a new favorite Barcelona team.
For years, it was the paradigm-shifting senior team that brought so much aesthetic joy to soccer viewers of all stripes. Because, well, what other Barcelona team are you supposed to root for?
Well, as of today, Barca’s under-12 team is our favorite Barca team. It hails, of course, from the famed La Masia academy, which has rolled super prospects off its conveyor belt for decades, like Lionel Messi (who joined at 13), Andres Iniesta, Xavi and Pep Guardiola.
On Monday, the under-12s won some kind of international tournament in Tokyo, Japan. Because when you’re on Barcelona’s youth team, you get to go to tournaments in Tokyo, Japan. When they final whistle rang out on Barca’s 1-0 victory, the breadth of their joy suggested that this game was some kind of big deal.
But just as soon as the Barca players were done celebrating, they realized that their vanquished opponents were crushed. That many of them were crying, and could barely bring themselves to stumble through the postgame handshakes. So the Barca players, led by their charismatic little captain, number four, set about bucking them up with hugs, some kind words and a few encouraging taps to the face.
It’s all quite heart-melting.
Barca has for years spoken about its conviction that La Masia also raise good human beings, not just good soccer players. That always sounded like PR speak from a soccer team that’s become a global mega brand. But their under-12 team espouses good sportsmanship.
Well done, new favorite Barca team.