FC Barcelona has created a monster: a monster of an argument, a grand dispute, an ideological dilemma, a thing that is polarising football punditry everywhere. Thanks to it - Barcelona's fluid, attacking, conquering, all ball-owning possession football, and its successes and its trophies – the football world is torn.
The game is in intellectual shock. It knows not where to go from here, so impressed it is on the one hand by the tactical revolt Barca has created, and so frustrated it is, on the other hand, by the fact that Barca's methods are so difficult, so near-impossible to counter, much less duplicate.
So the game recedes, backs off, intimidated by the suggestion that the Barca way cannot be matched like for like and therefore the only answer is like for unlike.
So then comes the inevitable response, a tactic diametrically opposed to it, like Chelsea's in the UEFA Champions League semi-final, where space and ownership of the ball is surrendered in return for a slim hope of a consummated rear-guard strike, and a little luck.
This is the down side of the beautiful Barcelona revolution. Over the years – particularly in the four-year Pep Guardiola span – opponents have become so resigned to not being able to outplay them (or outplay Spain, which is the national team clone of Barcelona), that they all play on the break against it. They are all intimidated.
Now this would be totally unsurprising if such timidity was confined to lower tier opponents, say a Betis, a Shaktar or even a Lyon. But it's not. It extends to some of the richest, most glamorous clubs in the world, each full of stars, but all of whom have gone to the Nou Camp with a fear and an intent to play on the counter.
We have seen this from Real Madrid, Manchester United, Inter Milan, Chelsea and even Arsenal, each of them clubs with a regal identity who would rarely be seen being in such a state of resignation against any other team.
What we are seeing is that teams with a noble status and a claim to historical excellence, those who in the past would take the game to the opposition, who would demand respect purely because of their name, are willing to retreat and just about betray their identity. Purely because it is Barcelona they are playing. Purely because that is the only way to beat it.
But there are even broader ramifications.
What is now happening is that some of these teams, and these tactics, are succeeding. Not very often, in fact very rarely, but they are getting the odd result that suggests there is a way against Barcelona. Not a very pretty way, but a way.
What Chelsea did by beating Barcelona in the UCL, albeit with a very generous dose of luck (and not much less luck against Bayern Munich in the final either) has ushered in a chorus of opinions arguing that the Chelsea crown proves the Barca way is not invincible and even that the Blues way is a better way.
It is nonsense of course. For all the number of teams that 'park the bus' against Barcelona, there is no evidence that any more than a small minority actually manage to beat them. But it is this that is polarising opinion around the world.
There is a large body of people who now believe the kind of tactics in which Chelsea engaged against Barcelona, and in which Inter Milan engaged against the same team two years ago, are a winning way and therefore the universal adulation for Barca and the Barca way is misplaced.
The end consequence of such thinking is darkness, for it liberates coaches from the envy and the need to truly emulate Barcelona, providing them with a lazy, quick fix alternative. It is far easier to put 10 men in the penalty box in a handful of games than to build a club culture of skilful, creative, attacking football, which can take many years, even decades.
This tactical counter-culture is strongly evident at EURO 2012 where a high volume of games are being won by teams with reactive rather than proactive strategies.
Of the 21 games that have produced a winner so far (as I write) no less than nine, almost half, have been won by teams that had less of the ball and made less attempts at scoring.
(Greece beat Russia by having just 38 per cent of possession and making just five attempts on goal against Russia's 25!)
It's an astonishing statistic and will be used liberally by those who challenge the dogma that a high level of ball possession is necessary for consistent results.
It has already started. Said one excited twitterer: "There is no evidence that possession leads to goals." This person is a miracle maker for he has discovered a way of scoring goals without the ball.
Of course possession leads to goals, obviously provided that possession is used effectively, as Barcelona and Spain do, and many other teams do besides.
In fact all good teams try to keep possession as long as they can. It's just that they're not as good at it as Barcelona or Spain are.
Bayern Munich, which made the UCL final last season and lost out on penalties, had the second highest possession rate that season after Barcelona.
The cliche 'it's not whether you have the ball that matters but what you do with it', is in a way redundant because if you don't have the ball in the first place, you have nothing to do anything with. It's like eating: you need food in order to eat because if you don't have food you have nothing to eat.
Naturally it is pointless to have the ball if all you do with it is pass it around in your own half. That's not only useless, it is dead boring. You have to use the ball, and exploit your possession, proactively.
But back to my earlier point: what now appears to be happening is that teams are strategically surrendering the strategy of keeping the ball and of recovering it as soon as they have lost it, instead falling back once the ball is lost, securing their goal zone with a battalion of players and trying to counter-punch once the ball is recovered.
This is nothing new of course. It's a tactic that goes back many decades. But I believe it is becoming more common than it has ever been before.
It is a legitimate and acceptable tactic, of course. But as a form of entertainment, it is a monster.
A monster Barcelona – and Spain – have created.
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