Can Sundowns defeat Barcelona? It doesn’t matter

Barcelona vs Mamelodi Sundowns

Coming up against a star-studded Barcelona outfit won’t be an easy feat, but PSL champions Mamelodi Sundowns can only do themselves proud regardless of the result, writes MARSHALL GOUTS.

The five-time Champions League winners arrive in South Africa after an incredible season on the domestic front. Had it not been for their final league clash, a nine-goal thriller, which they lost to Levante – Barcelona would have joined an illustrious list of clubs known as the Invincibles, to have gone an entire season without having tasted defeat.

Far from being as dominant as their Spanish counterparts – it was in fact their worst season under the tutelage of coach Pitso Mosimane, nevertheless Masandawana deservedly won a record eighth league title, further solidifying their status as the best team in the country.

Questions were raised about Sundowns’ decision to spend an apparent R100 million to bring Barcelona, who at the time weren’t guaranteed to bring their stars, this narrative of course changed as the clash got closer.

Added to that, Masandawana spent in the excess of R120 000 in order to get their CAF Champions League clash against Horoya postponed. But then again, you know what they say about ambition, it’s priceless and least we forget, Sundowns have the backing of owner, billionaire mining mogul, Patrice Motsepe.

In comparison to his said net worth, the money spent on the bringing the La Liga giants to South Africa is but a drop in the ocean.

This move correlates with Motsepe’s earliest vision of not only dominating on the domestic scene, but allowing the Sundowns brand to gain traction on an international level, eventually being recognised with other global brands and what better way to “network” than to bring a squad full of world-beaters in Andres Iniesta, Philippe Coutinho, Ousmane Dembele, Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Marc-Andre Ter Stegen and Sergio Busquets to name a few?

Boardroom formalties aside, the spectacle honouring the late former president Nelson Mandela is a win-win situtation for all parties involved. With La Liga looking to expand their footprint in Africa and Sundowns keen on global expansion, the champions-versus-champions clash in the world’s fifth biggest stadium makes perfect sense.

Without disregarding the almost 90-000 strong crowd which is set to be in attendance, the real winner of this clash, regardless of the score will be South African football on a whole. (Many are predicting a thumping in the way of the visitors)

Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane could not contain his excitement when talking about the prospect of facing Ernesto Valverde’s side, but the former Bafana Bafana mentor was cautious in placing unrealistic expectations on his squad, acknowledging the magntiude of the task.

‘It’s not about beating Barca or trying to match ourselves against Barca,’ he told the club’s official website.

‘It’s just to see our organisation, the way we defend and attack. We want to see how far we are in terms of that regard because we have our own specimen.

‘It’s not about who will win. I think we all know who will win. We expect Barca to win, not to say that we aren’t confident but the reality has to be there.

‘If we win, it’s unbelievable. You never know, maybe we can rise to the occasion and give them a scare. But I must be honest with you, I am so excited about the game,’ he said.

In a World Cup year, where South Africa have yet again failed to qualify, an encounter against an almost full-strength Barcelona squad should be viewed as an acid test for South African football or serve as a yardstick to see how far we still need to go as a footballing nation.

With the 2018 World Cup on the horizon, Barcelona may decide to adopt a “take it easy” approach, but with a squad of their calibre and Sundowns gunning for victory – anything less than a thumping would be viewed as a poor result for the travellers.

Sundowns, for once, will be playing with no expectations.

Is victory even remotely possible? Based on the gap in the hierachy, the thought shouldn’t be tangible, but if Masandawana do the unthinkable, not only will they have managed to momentarily bridge the gap between SA football and international football.

If Sundowns beat or draw against Barcelona, then the argument that they make up the majority of the numbers in our national team is certainly a no-brainer. Not so?

All of the best Masandawana.

Photo: Backpagepix

-This story originally appeared on SportsClub.co.za

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