The cheat code of Ernesto Valverde and FC Barcelona
Gaming is one of the most advancing industries around. Among so much advancements in technology, the artificial intelligence and simulation technology has been subjected to rapid growth. There was a time in gaming where you could hardly differentiate between cars, or players in case of sports simulators. Now we stand at a point, where you could experience the difference in the top speeds and accelerations of a car, even without actually driving it. In FIFA 1999, you could hardly spot a player. Every player looked same, maybe it wasn’t even close to representing a human texture. Now if you get a sneak peak of the gameplay, you could easily pick out Ronaldo and Messi’s faces. From the faces, to the way they run, everything is simulated to perfection. Even things that couldn’t be controlled, such as weather, are being controlled by the AI. It now rains in between games if the conditions are overcast.
Although games could represent real life, they could never possibly represent the emotions. 90 minutes are 90 minutes in the game. While it is much more at the Camp Nou, like PSG found out the hard way. The crowd wills their team on till the final whistle, nothing similar has been implemented yet in the games.
With technology advancing we are implementing the minute details of real life into the game. Is the vice versa ever possible? If we have control of Cristiano Ronaldo is FIFA, we can dribble from half-way line to the goal. In reality, Ronaldo won’t dribble that much and possibly couldn’t dribble that much. Luis Suarez’s finishing would be as good as his prime but that isn’t the case at the moment. Basically, any above average player can do atrocious things, if the right person is in front of the gamepad or the keyboard.
We couldn’t possibly implement gaming into real life but yet FC Barcelona seem to use that one integral aspect of gaming, which is a cheat code.
The twist in gaming comes with the inception of cheat codes. If we move on to define a cheat code, it is just a sequence which helps us to advance levels, or get certain benefits that others don’t have access to. It can be any alphanumeric sequence which gives the gamer the advantage over the AI and in some cases over other gamers too. When you are feeling too lazy to run around and look for a gun, just type in a sequence from the keyboard and you will have an AK47 at arm’s length. If the city police department is too hard to get away from, and you feel that you are about to be cuffed, the same trick would do. A quick finger movement over the keyboard and you will be free from the atrocities of the cops.
What is the cheat code that Barcelona use? It cannot be a sequence or string but it is fairly simple. It can either be used straight up in the game or it can be implemented in between the game, when things are not going the way they like.
To account for the fact, that Barcelona do use a cheat code, all we have to do is recount some of their matches. To start with, we shall look at the Valencia-Barcelona game last season. Valencia were in rampant form, at the top of the table when FC Barcelona came calling at the Mestalla. The first half was one of the best Barcelona had played ever since Xavi Hernandez left. Andres Iniesta was at the pick of things in front of the box. He couldn’t be alone, he was there with the cheat code. The Valencia defence had no idea what was going on. Barcelona had a goal denied in the first half and played the rest of the game with a sense of injustice. In the 82nd minute, the cheat code came into action, with a perfectly lobbed ball to Jordi Alba which resulted in the equalizer. That kind of a mesmeric lobbed over the defence, it is not allowed, and it is unfair to the defence.
The next incident that implies that Barcelona operated with a cheat code, was against Sevilla FC. At the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, Sevilla’s home ground. Franco Vazquez scored the opener in the the 36th minute and Muriel doubled the advantage in the 50th minute. With his back up against the wall, Ernesto Valverde used his secret weapon again. He hit the cheat code in the 58th minute and took Ousmane Dembele out of the action. Sevilla held on until the 88th minute, but afterwards the cheat took over, two goals in two minutes and it was all square at 2-2. On April fool’s day, Sevilla were fooled into thinking they had the game sealed but it wasn’t their fault. A cheat code is nothing but an unfair advantage and they didn’t have it.
Going back to the recent Barcelona vs Tottenham game. Barcelona had the unfair advantage yet again. It is not customary for teams to break apart the Tottenham defence like Barcelona did. The two through balls which led to goals from Coutinho and Rakitic, weren’t supposed to be successful at the first place. It was a ball straight through the defence and right into Jordi Alba’s path. To execute that kind of through ball while Trippier, Alderweireld and Davinson Sanchez are all awake, it’s is not for humans. That is why we have to believe, Barcelona use a cheat code. It wasn’t the only time the cheat code struck. The way the second through ball was lobbed to Suarez over the defence was no easy task either and neither was breaking apart the defence on different occasions in the second half. Tottenham didn’t lose to a team called Barcelona, they lost because they didn’t have a cheat code.
There was a face-off between Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao in the LaLiga. Athletic Bilbao dominated proceedings till Valverde manipulated his team with the cheat code. After the 55th minute, in which Valverde executed his plans out of desperation, Athletic Bilbao were completely on the back foot. Barcelona’s attacks were much more dangerous, much more poised and they eventually hit the equalizer. How can a team, which looked lost for attacks in the first half perform with so much flare in the second? It is inexplicable, it is mysterious as to how Barcelona do this.
They have the unfair advantage, which could prove way too crucial at some stages. Cheat codes alone don’t win you games but it tips the pointer towards you. Julen Lopetegui, Niko Kovac, Jose Mourinho all are in deep waters. The performances from their team is below par for their standards. While there are talks of renewing Ernesto Valverde, who isn’t half as good as Lopetegui in terms of tactics. Valverde has been saved numerous times, because he used the cheat code. Valverde wouldn’t be this successful if he had to take over the Real Madrid squad. We don’t notice Valverde’s tactical blunders because he is able to rectify it.
How does Valverde rectify his tactical blunders? It is simple. He goes over to the bench and asks a certain someone to warm up. When the diminutive looking man is warm enough, the substitution board glitters in bright green, the number 10. The best sight for a Barcelona fan are the two digits on the substitution board. The little man entering the pitch, leaves them at ease, because if he decides to get a point or three away he would try his level best for that. If he doesn’t want to increase his work rate, Barcelona have to be content with whatever they have.
Such is the ability of Lionel Andres Messi, Barcelona’s perennial cheat code. No one has access to it except the coach of FC Barcelona. If he was under Lopetegui, Real Madrid wouldn’t be in fourth spot. If Mourinho had access to him, Manchester United will be at the top 2 of the Premier League. But god hasn’t gifted everybody that privilege. Only a select few are lucky to have Lionel Messi on their side and they could happily witness the left foot do things that mere mortals could only dream of.
Messi has changed the complexion of a game, all on his own a lot of times. It doesn’t matter if it was amidst the cacophony of Real Madrid fans at the Bernabeu or at an altitude of 2250 metres above sea level at Ecuador. If Lionel Messi decides to get things done, it will happen for him, provided he has the smallest of supports from his team. All he needs is someone to play a one-two with him, or return a pass to him. That is what Barcelona provides Lionel Messi. A partner like Suarez who can play a one-two. A partner like Alba, who can give Messi the return ball, just like he did against Tottenham. And as soon as Argentina find a way, to create a Jordi Alba or a Luis Suarez, they can hope for the little man to put the nation out of the trophy drought.
Lionel Messi, the perennial cheat code of FC Barcelona.Published 09 Oct 2018, 20:25 IST