Since joining Borussia Dortmund in 2016, Marc Bartra has embraced and embodied what it means to wear the black and yellow shirt. While many players seem to use Dortmund as a stepping stone and a development in their career, Bartra has embraced everything associated with Dortmund along the way. His grasp of what it means to play for a club steeped in history is second to none. As a result, Bartra is quickly becoming the new face of Borussia Dortmund.
From Espanyol, to Barcelona, to Dortmund. Marc Bartra has been on a journey. The Catalan born player started at RCD Espanyol as a child, before moving to join FC Barcelona’s infamous youth system. Being from Catalonia, an area that prides itself on history and culture, joining Barcelona would fill someone with a sense of pride, especially with Barcelona being at the forefront of Catalonia’s identity.
Progressing through the ranks of the youth system, Bartra reached Barcelona B in 2009 where he featured in a total of 81 games in the space of 3 years. Bartra received his first team debut in 2010 and it wasn’t until 2012 where he became a permanent member of the first team. In the 2012-13 season he only featured in 16 games in all competitions for Barcelona. Progressing further, despite not being the first choice centre back, Bartra made a total of 25 appearances, as well as being part of the treble winning 2014-15 season at Barcelona. Looking for more game time and greater pastures, Bartra made the move to Borussia Dortmund in 2016. He hasn’t looked back.
Black and Yellow
The Black and Yellow of Borussia Dortmund has been at the forefront of German football for quite some time. Steeped in history, culture, and tradition, joining a club like Dortmund must be an incredible feeling. A team with the largest stadium in Germany that draws impressive attendances makes it even better as a player. Bartra embraced it.
Bartra soon became an important component of the team, on and off the pitch. During his first season at Borussia Dortmund, Bartra featured in 19 Bundesliga games, playing 1560 minutes. He put his strengths of passing, tackling, blocking, intercepting on display. 82% passing completion, 36 tackles won, 52.22% aerial duels won, 60 interceptions, 12 blocks, 60 clearances, with only 1 defensive error. A solid first season for the Spaniard. Despite these performances, his first season at Dortmund was overshadowed by the events that occurred on 11 April 2017.
The events of 11 April will forever be remembered by Bartra and his teammates. In the build-up to a Champions League quarter-final game against Monaco, an explosion rang out. The Dortmund team bus was attacked by roadside bombs. As a result of the blast, Bartra was injured and had to be taken to hospital. Everyone was praying for his wellbeing. It was the unthinkable, the beautiful game was attacked.
But like many tragedies, beauty shines through. The unity of Dortmund and Monaco supporters was on full display. Dortmund came together and was offering Monaco fans food and places to stay. It’s this unity and spirit that makes this world special. Hurt but not broken, Bartra soldiered on. In an Instagram post at the time, he describes the situation as the “longest and hardest 15 minutes of my life.” Adding to this, he said that “These days when I look at my wrist, swollen and badly wound, you know what I feel? Pride.” Despite being involved in this terrible situation, Bartra remained strong and only asked for one thing, “for everyone to live in peace and to leave behind the wars.”
Nobody will be able to understand what Bartra felt on that terrible night. But what we do know is that he is an incredible person who despite going through physical and psychological pain, shined through it all.
20 May 2017, the day Marc Bartra returned. It was “one of the happiest days” in his career. His emotional return saw Dortmund beat Werder Bremen 4-3 in the last home game of the season. Despite the positive result, it’s almost like the result didn’t matter. This was about Marc Bartra. After experiencing so much pain in a terrible situation, he finally returned to what he loves the most, football. The scenes of Bartra on the pitch was one of great beauty and emotion. Dortmund fans made sure this was something special.
In a post-game interview he said that “winning today wasn’t just about the three points, it was about playing football again, which is the thing I love the most and that’s why it’s been so emotional.”
Marc Bartra is quickly becoming the new face of Borussia Dortmund, and rightfully so. Despite your allegiances you can’t help but sit back and admire what Batra embodies on and off the pitch. His raw emotion and passion is always visible, especially on the pitch. That’s what makes him perfect for Dortmund. A future captain? It’s possible. If not, he has certainly already made his mark on Borussia Dortmund in many ways and he will always have a place in the heart of the fans.
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