Parallels between the free-flowing and amazing FC Barcelona of 2003 and the FC Barcelona of 2022

Remember the 2003/04 season? To refresh your memory, that was the one when Edgar Davids arrived mid-season and had a similar effect to what’s happened to FC Barcelona this year since Ferran Torres, Dani Alves, Adama Traoré, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang were added to the mix. 

Remember the 2003/04 season?  To refresh your memory, that was the one when Edgar Davids arrived mid-season and had a similar effect to what’s happened to FC Barcelona this year since Ferran Torres, Dani Alves, Adama Traoré, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang were added to the mix. 

Like in 2003/04, the season got off to a substandard start but ended with a remarkable upturn in fortunes. The climax came when a Xavi-inspired team, in those days on the pitch and not the dugout, won the Clásico at the Santiago Bernabéu.

Barcelona’s Winter Transfer Window

FC Barcelona players - FirstSportz
Barcelona players celebrating a goal

The first parallel is President Joan Laporta. 2003 was the first year he took charge in his first spell as the President of Barcelona. Edgar Davids led midfield which also had current manager Xavi as a new arising player and Philip Cocu as the veteran completely transformed the team, much like Ferran, Dani Alves, Adama, and Aubamayang are doing nowadays, including 4 goal matches against Athletico Madrid, Osasuna, Napoli, and Valencia.

It is just like the 2003-2004 season, where Edgar Davids led Barcelona to wins against Athletico Madrid at Camp Nou and against Valencia( the then league leaders), and eternal rivals Real Madrid away from home. In the EL Clasico away from home that season, a certain Xavi Hernandez earned the Man of the Match award for his brilliant performances.

Youth Promotions

FC Barcelona Pedri
Barcelona wonderkid Pedri

Just like this season, a number of La Masia players were promoted to the first team, a couple of which became club legends and club captains when their time came. In 2003-2004, Victor Valdes was made the first-team goalkeeper, Oleguer and Puyol began to start for the first team in defense, Xavi masterminded the midfield, and Juan Garcia began to score goals for the team in attack. 

In 2021-22, this can be said for the likes for Arnau Tenas in goal, Eric Garcia in defense, Nico, Gavi, and Pedri in midfield, and Jutglà

in attack.

It can also not be forgotten that just like in 2003-04, youngsters are being blended in the first team with veterans like Nico, Gavi, Pedri, Eric, and Jutgla are being mentored by veterans like Busquets, Pique, and Jordi Alba.

Closing in on Real Madrid

El Clasico
El Clasico between Barcelona and Real Madrid

In 2004, Barça amassed an extraordinary run of 17 league games without defeat to fly up from a lowly 12th at the halfway stage of the tournament to ultimately finish in second.

Remarkably, Barça managed to make up a difference of no fewer than 18 points on Real Madrid, eventually finishing two points above them, although it wasn’t enough to catch Valencia, who lifted the trophy that year.

In 2021-2022, Barça is 15 points short of Real Madrid, but do have a game in hand and the game at the Santiago Bernabéu on the horizon, this Sunday at 9.00 pm CET or 1:30 am IST. Potentially, therefore, the gap on the leaders could be closed to just nine points. Winning La Liga is clearly a VERY difficult challenge right now, but it’s by no means a total impossibility.

Barcelona’s Participation in Europa League

WATCH: Ansu Fati scores again for Barcelona, Twitter reacts
Barcelona’s new Number 10, Ansu Fati

Back in 2003-2004, Barça was competing in the Europa League, then known as UEFA Cup. Their run ended at the quarter-final stage against Glasgow Celtic (now called Celtic) and despite the massive improvement in performances, the Catalans ended the season empty-handed in terms of trophies.

In another curious parallel, in 2021/22 Barça is back in the tournament, albeit in a new guise as the Europa League, for the first time since a season that shares a number of curious parallels with the present one.

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