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Brian Phillips: All Hail Barcelona

There's a special feeling of euphoria, a kind of Olympian giddiness, that soccer fans experience while watching F.C. Barcelona. Soccer takes great athletes and makes them artificially clumsy—forces them to show what they can do, in effect, with both arms tied behind their backs. It's a game of tricks, one that turns the simplest action, just keeping possession of the ball, into a perilous high-wire act. But Barcelona pass the ball, and pass the ball, and pass the ball—938 times in their recent 5-0 win over Real Sociedad—and invert defenses as casually as if they were rotating a kaleidoscope. It's not just that they make it look easy. It's that three years into their reign as the world's best soccer team, they still haven't realized they're playing 50 feet above the ground.

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