50 years of a debut that marked the history of Barça

The style of play of FC Barcelona is not recognized without Johan Cruyff nor the historic coach and player without the Blaugrana shirt. An eternal relationship that has an official start date: October 28, 1973. Next Saturday we celebrate 50 years of the debut. That day, Barça was playing the eighth matchday of the League at the Camp Nou against Granada after a gruesome start to the competition: two wins, two draws and three defeats left them just one point away from relegation. Juan M. Asensipresident of the Players’ Association, culé legend and Johan’s partner for some seasons, admits that “We started off badly. “If we lost in Castellón, we would become the first team in the Club’s history to be last in the League.” After a balmy victory in Castalia, “They told us that Johan would debut the following Sunday”.

The news was made public the day before the match: Barça had finally received the “Transfer” from the Netherlands and Johan Cruyff would debut in an official match the following day. The press reported after a culé manager visited the Granada team upon arrival at the hotel to inquire about the trip and ask them if they needed anything. Then he broke the news to them: “Tomorrow he plays against you”. Joseito, coach of the rival team, declared that the preparation for the game during the week was useless, that now he had to rethink everything. And he was not wrong… his concerns materialized. Barça won the match 4-0 in a packed Camp Nou with two goals from the star who was making his debut. The last one, with an impressive volley from outside the area.

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Salvador Sadurníthe Club’s historic goalkeeper and also Cruyff’s teammate that season, remembers that ““Johan’s arrival was as if God had arrived.”. Marcial Pinadirector of the Association and Barça player during that season, adds that the fact that Cruyff played with them “it was an incentive”. That match was a turning point. Sadurní shares what he told the revolutionary coach Rinus Michels: “If they don’t score goals behind us, with the lead we have we will always score a goal or two. “That means we will always win… And she was right”. Barça did not lose again in the League until after the alirón, five games from the end, at the Molinón by beating Sporting de Gijón (2-4).

The Dutchman’s attitude since his arrival was impeccable. When at the beginning the team did not chain victories, “He encouraged us, he gave us the feeling that he was the savior” -Asensi explains. Marcial happily remembers all the meals where he shared a table with Cruyff, Neeskens y Rexach. “An extraordinary atmosphere -says Sadurní- and incalculable admiration.”. According to Asensi, “We owe the strength, the drive and the transformation to Johan”. The legend of Cruyff was beginning to be written.

The post first appeared on www.fcbarcelona.es

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