What would Catalan independence mean for Barca, Spain and Lionel Messi?

With the chance of potential independence from Spain in the not so distant future growing in the week what would the knock-on effects be?

Catalonian separatist groups won a large majority in regional elections this week and despite obviously more complicated issues being afoot there is now talk that a referendum on potential independence for the Catalan region could come into fruition within the next two years (at the earliest).

While of course I could go into all the delicate politics of the matter and discuss the pros and cons for a potential split from Spain on an economical and European perspective but quite frankly I would rather talk about what it means for football.

As we all know currently the best team on the face of the earth is Barcelona; forget who is playing at the Club World Cup in December Barca are the best. The club itself has become a haven for the call of autonomy for the region. Sport and politics doesn’t mix is an old adage and nowadays everybody knows the two are intrinsically linked. Both use each other as a means to a greater end.

At the recent El Clasico fixture Barca fans chanted ‘Independence’ for large portions of the game. The fixture between Barca and Real is not just a football rivalry; it is Catalonia versus Spain and all which that entails.

So if this split does occur what will it mean for Barcelona?

It seems to be clear that Catalan independence would not see the formation of a top-class Catalan football league. There are many reasons but mainly Barcelona would simply monopolise the league. Think of Celtic in Scotland and times it by many. Simply put it would not be feasible; financially or competitively. While that may smack in the mouth of double standards after Blaugrana call for independence yet will more than likely puppy dog eye at being the Swansea City of La Liga is something to deal with at the time.

As for the national team that would be a different story. As previously with the breakup of the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and subsequent Montenegro-Serbia split eligible players would be allowed the opportunity to choose Catalonia as their new representative nation.

At the moment the Catalan team is very strong; made up mostly of Barcelona players past and present they would be a force to be reckoned with in European football. Their results mix under the stewardship of the great Johan Cruyff with a draw against Tunisia their most recent result doing little to inspire; while wins over Honduras, Argentina and Colombia do much the contrary.

As with the results the talent of the team is mixed. Valdes, Puyol, Pique, Fabregas, Xavi, Busquets, Didac, Bojan etc are top class players while Albert Puigdollers plays for Scottish second division side Cowdenbeath.

There is also the possibility for the likes of Andres Iniesta and even Lionel Messi to switch allegiances on residency rules; how likely the latter in particular remains is up to debate.

But hypothetically this is how a Catalan national team might look.

GK: Victor Valdes - Barcelona

DR: Martin Montoya - Barcelona

DL: Didac - Milan

DC: Gerard Pique - Barcelona

DC: Carles Puyol - Barcelona

MC: Xavi - Barcelona

MC: Sergio Busquets - Barcelona

MC: Cesc Fabregas - Barcelona

FW: Bojan Krkic - Milan

FW: Andres Iniesta - Barcelona

FW: Lionel Messi/Isaac Cuenca - Barcelona

Would you want to face a Catalonia football team?

image: © borkur.net

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