Pep Talk 13: The ‘Gladiator’ video Pep Guardiola used to motivate FC Barcelona before the Champions League 2009 Final

After the Barcelona players returned from the warm-up, they were surprised to find a Pep Guardiola assistant refusing them entry into the Stadio Olimpico dressing room. Xavi got a tad irritated. After all, a Champions League final was less than twenty minutes away from kickoff. Then the door opened. The players were ushered in as they were surprised to find all the lights switched off. Guardiola then played a seven-minute movie in the darkroom – a video he had asked a journalist friend in Television de Catalunya to compile.

It was made to Guardiola levels of expectation and detailing. With Hollywood award-winning blockbuster Gladiator theme, the background of Rome and showcasing the biggest efforts every squad player had put in that season. There were goals scored by Busquets, Alves, Gudjohnsen, Pique, Hleb; inspirational moments from Keita, Abidal, Sylvinho; electric saves from Valdes, Pinto – efforts from every player in the squad was recognised. Even footage of Gabi Milito who had hardly played that season (due to injury) was captured.

It was a team video – no glorification of the stars Henry, Xavi, Eto or Messi. Only that Iniesta goal at Stamford Bridge was given adequate time – for obvious reasons. When the video ended, some players had tears in their eyes. It was summary of what they had achieved in such short span of time – less than a year to be precise. Guardiola still believes the timing of showing the video could have been better. The players probably stayed affected even after the game started. Manchester United dominated the opening nine minutes of that final. Watch the video below. And do note, Pep or his assistants don’t feature in the video. It was after all.. all about the players.

Shared the above insight from Guardiola’s biography ‘Another way of winning’. The video inspired the team enough to crush clear favourites Manchester United – as per English pundits and bookmakers. You can read more highlights from that book in my blog series.

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