You didn’t think I could let this game pass without handing out a few awards, did you? Only two more games to go this season, though. I’m going into withdrawal mode already.
Pintocalypse Award: Javier Mascherano, for his brilliant headed save in the box after Pinto got caught out metres outside his box. Yet another reason why Masche has been worth every cent they paid for him.
Barça DNA Award: It’s always good to see former players doing well. Victor Sanchez has played for a few clubs since leaving Barça, first on loan in 2009, then permanently in 2011. He joined Espanyol in January 2012 after being released from the disastrous Swiss club Neuchatel Xamax. He knew Guardiola well from his days as part of his B team, and I’m sure he appreciated the sendoff Pep was given. He had a cute moment during the game when, after picking up a yellow card for barrelling into Iniesta, he trotted over to pat him on the head in apology. Because everyone loves Iniesta.
Room For Improvement Award: Speaking of Iniesta, he takes free kicks now. Because he needed to be even more awesome than he already is. This is one of the (many) reasons I love this team: No one rests on their laurels. Everyone can still learn things, can still get better. That’s what Pep brought to the club, and what I expect to see continued under Tito.
Perpetual Motion Machine Award: Pedro, who is darned close to earning back his punctuation, and had another excellent game with full windmill action activated. See, he just needed some consistent playing time to get his groove back! Sadly, he will likely miss out on going to the Euros as VDB has plenty of other options to choose from, and these last few games may not have been enough to get him back in the running. I think Pep actually feels a little guilty about that, as he mentioned something in a recent press conference that he thinks he could have played Pedro more. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.
Keita Face Award: Huh? What?
Closing The Barn Door After The Horse Has Bolted Award: Four Penalties in 2 games? Little late to start getting those calls now, guys. I’m waiting for Marca to break the story that we are bribing the refs to get penalty kicks now just to drive up Messi’s pichichi stats. I’m sure that’s what they are thinking. (And on a serious note, something has to be done about these ridiculous handball penalty calls. Whether for us or against us, there have been so many bad calls where it was a clear case of unavoidable ball-to-hand. It’s madness.)
Resistance Is Futile Award: Pep, pretending to throw a punch at Puyol in an effort to avoid being given the bumps. Trust me, if Puyol wants to throw you in the air it’s going to happen. Just resign yourself and enjoy the ride!
Next Generation Award: Marius Guardiola i Serra, who has already been practicing his coaching technique on the sidelines of Camp Nou. Future head coach? Watch this space!
Cast A Giant Shadow Award: What do they do with those giant banners after the game is finished? Put it in the museum, I suppose. I would love to buy that Gracies Pep banner and just drape it over my house. It would keep the sun off in the summer and retain heat in the winter. Most importantly, I could continue to live under Pep’s beatific gaze and pretend nothing has changed. Nothing at all. 😀
Never Gonna Give You Up Award: Messi, for That Hug. The hug that wasn’t only a sign of personal affection, but a public acknowledgement of just how important Pep has been to Leo as a player. Messi would probably still be the best in the world under any coach, but it was Pep (and Tito!) who guided his genius, found out how to get the best out of him, and allowed him to develop into the absolute monster he is now. 72 goals. In one season. Messi isn’t stupid. He knows exactly what Pep has done for him, and for the game he loves to play. Oh, and also? You have all just been Rick Rolled. 😈