• The Dutchman made his debut on the Barça bench in a derby against Espanyol, like Xavi, and players from that 1988 team remember that game and the germ of the ‘Dream Team’

  • “Johan made me lower my salary and at the end of the course he gave me a personal check with the difference”, recalls Julio Alberto

“When Cruyff arrived, he told Carrasco and me that we had to lower our salary. Carrasco did not want to and went to Sochaux. I, who the previous season was almost the one who earned the most, after Schuster, I accepted,” he explains Julius alberto. “At the end of the season, Johan came with an envelope and a slip of his personal with the difference that he had taken from me, to thank me for having behaved as I had behaved.”

Cruyff was until today the only coach in all of Barça’s history who had made his debut in a derby at the Camp Nou with Espanyol. If the Dutch genius had to rebuild Barça after the Hesperia mutiny, Xavi now has the challenge of rebuilding a set without Messi and from the economic ashes of Josep Maria Bartomeu.

The Egarense coach will be able to sit on the bench this Saturday, unlike Cruyff, who had to watch the first game of the 1988-1989 season from the stands of the Camp Nou. The Federation did not validate the title of the former Ajax coach until the second game, in the Cup Winners’ Cup against FRAM in Reykjavik, with which he saw from the box the official start of his second stage at the club. A derby that resulted in a 2-0 victory, with two goals in two minutes (62 and 64) from Txiki Begiristain and Robert Fernández.

In that first eleven they jumped into the field Julio Alberto and Miquel Soler, who still remember that they were then trying to digest all the new concepts that the new and groundbreaking coach was trying to implement. “He completely broke our schemes. We had many acquired hobbies and he, based on field work, wardrobe and psychological work, changed our way of thinking,” says Julio Alberto. “It began to change a lot of things that we took for granted that they were very well done: the work we did on the wings, that we knew how to read well when we had to defend and project ourselves in attack, being able to play three backwards, that the two open ends forced us to set two defenses … “.

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“It collided with everything that any player had seen until then. We looked at each other and said: five on the outside, one on the inside and three to chase the ball, with this we will not even give three passes. By insisting and repeating, he left imposing his thesis “, says Soler. They both remember that preseason, “amazing”, as defined by Julio Alberto, not only because of the change in the way of training but because of the barrage of friendlies: 22 in a month. “In them and in the rounds we began to learn the importance of having possession and forming triangles on the field, moving from the training laboratory to the game,” reveals Soler.

The squad was almost new, after the departure of 14 players due to the Hesperia mutiny and the arrival of 11 new ones, including Soler. “We were a lot of new players and when you arrive in a new place you open your ears absolutely. You don’t get defensive, you want to do it well. I think this benefited Johan, because being a leader is not enough, you also have to want to be led. If people don’t want to, you have nothing to do, “says the winger, signed that year from Espanyol.

Cruyff also had the complicity of veterans such as Julio Alberto, who contributed to the conquest of the Recopa. A title that crowned a first course for Johan that began with the euphoria in the stands to win the first derby. “Those derbies were very powerful, they began to be played at the beginning of the week and it was not played on social networks but in the newspapers, on TVs and radios … You arrived at the weekend with a spectacular atmosphere,” says Julio Alberto. “Johan was passionate and he liked those derbies just like I did and he knew how to handle them with tremendous coldness and whatever he said or did was reason to build a stadium.”

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Soler, who played for both Barça and Espanyol, considers that generally in the blue and white dressing room they used to live with more intensity. “At Barça it was still taken as one more game while at Espanyol it was lived in a different way, with more rivalry. But that derby was special because it was the first of the season, with a new coach who had a way of playing absolutely new, to see how it would work. There was more tension and when that happens it is more difficult to concentrate and it is not easy for things to work out. ”

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The leader, on the bench

A situation similar to the one that Barça will find itself in at the beginning of the Xavi era. “Cruyff was the leader then because he came up with disruptive ideas after Barça broke with everything. Now with Xavi the leader is the coach for the first time in a long time, because since Guardiola the leader was Messi. Now it is thought that Xavi will be the keys to the victories in this transitional Barça due to the devaluation of the squad, the budget and the players who have left “. “Xavi will have it much easier than Cruyff because football has evolved and it is much easier to transmit any idea,” says Julio Alberto. For him, beyond a tactical improvement, his arrival will emotionally reactivate Barça at all levels. “It is important because it has given back to Barcelona, ​​the team, the board and the entity the illusion. The illusion is the first step of any project in life. Believing in yourself to be able to believe in others.”


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