Of course, this is not the first time the Catalan club has featured prominently at the Gala. In each of the last four years they have provided at least two of the three 2012 FIFA Ballon D’Or nominees, sweeping the board in 2010, the year in which Messi pipped club-mates Iniesta and Xavi to the crown.
In a bid to uncover the secret of Barcelona’s amazing success, FIFA.com spoke exclusively to some of the club’s star acts just a few minutes before the presentation of the most coveted individual award in world football.
Spirit and class
“There’s more to the slogan ‘More than a club’ than just words you know,” said Dani Alves, voted the best right-back of 2012, when asked why Los Culés were so successful. “It’s the best place to be. You’re always well looked after and all the players have to worry about is playing football.”
Midfield mastermind Xavi, one of the icons of the Catalan club, delved a little deeper into what makes them tick: “We have this tremendous desire to win. The team has built up a very positive momentum and possesses great character and a clearly defined approach to the game. We believe in ourselves and we respect our opponents.”
Not to be outdone, Gerard Pique offered his views on the winning dynamic the Spanish giants have created in recent years: “The team’s been performing brilliantly for some time now, so much so that you hardly noticed the change in coaches we had a few years ago.”
So what next for Las Blaugranas? Having built up a big lead in La Liga and with the knockout rounds of the UEFA Champions League to come, the boys from Barcelona have little doubt they can continue to blaze the spectacular trail they have taken in the last few seasons.
“There’s a lot of ambition and a lot of desire,” added Pique, ever the optimist. “At the end of the day, that’s what makes the difference in a lot of titles and it’s something this team has shown time and again. We’ve been performing at a very high level and all the ingredients are there for us to go on and push for every title.”
“We’d like to win the lot. That goes without saying,” said Xavi with a chuckle. “We do know though that we have to be watchful and cautious, and always show respect for our rivals, because they can make life very hard for us. But I think we’ve got the team to go out and do it. We’ll have to wait and see but I think we’re on the right track.”
And who better to round off our analysis of the Barça way than Messi, the four-time FIFA Ballon d’Or winner and the team’s figurehead: “I want to keep on winning with my team-mates and with my team. Individual awards are secondary when you achieve success as a unit. That’s what matters most and that’s what we always strive for.”