Five days ago, on Saturday, May 23, a young man by the name of Marc Muniesa Martinez strode onto the Camp Nou pitch, replacing Sylvinho in Barca’s back line against Osasuna in the 50th minute to make his senior debut for the club aged just 17. He slotted into the defence, a position he plays regularly for Barca’s Youth A team. For any young footballer, this is the dream. 90,000 roaring all around you, chanting your team’s name, while you press forward . . Barca were on the backfoot, searching for an equaliser to Pandiani’s 25th minute header. The game was academic, as far as the league is concerned, but you try telling the youngsters representing Barca that.

And then it all went horribly, horribly wrong.

With the ball breaking for Osasuna down the left flank, Muniesa runs over to cover . . he dives in, getting both the ball and the player, out about 35 yards from goal.  Referee Rubinos Perez trots over, pulling out his book. The defender awaits his fate, realising that he’ll have to tread carefully from now onwards . . . except that the flash of colour isn’t yellow. It’s red.

The Barca bench were incensed. Guardiola ironically cheered and gave the referee the thumbs up, while at the same time consoling his young player, who, by now, was in tears. A dream debut, ended by a flash of madness from the referee. The entire Barca bench surrounded Muniesa, hugging him and patting him on the back. Valdes looked him straight in the eye and told him it wasn’t his fault.

But that was Saturday.

Many may not have noticed, amidst all the hype and sublime football, but there was a surprise inclusion on the bench  for Barca in Wednesday’s team to face Manchester Utd for the title of Europe’s best. His name was Marc Muniesa, and he collected a winner’s medal from Michel Platini.

And that is why this club is not just very, very good. It is truly great.

– el kapitan

p.s. The man below will be pretty happy, too.

"Ah mon chéri, finally you are mine. I think I shall name you Blinky."

“Ah mon chéri, finally you are mine. I think I shall name you Blinky.”

Photograph: Tom Jenkins/Guardian News Service
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