That was a fun game, wasn’t it? And by “fun” I mean “I hope we don’t have another game like that anytime soon, my heart couldn’t take it!” I’ve scraped together a few awards for your edification. Read them slowly, they have to last you all week!
Smells Like Team Spirit Award: This was not Barcelona’s best game. Sloppy passing, poor finishing, and shambolic defending enabled Sevilla to go two goals up by the 47th minute. Another team might have dropped their heads, become discouraged in the face of such intense pressure, and fallen apart completely. Not this Barcelona. They never lost their belief in their innate superiority. Tito made some risky subs, and all hands sprang to the pumps to bail themselves out. Even the Best Team In The World ™ isn’t going to play well every time. But a team that can avoid panicking and battle back from a 2-goal deficit when they aren’t playing well is truly impressive.
Blasphemous Rumours Award: The rumours of Villa’s demise as a top-level striker have been greatly exaggerated. No, he’s not quite ready to play a full 90 minutes yet, but his hunger, work-rate, and above all, his clinical finishing in front of goal are all evident. Well, except for that one glaring “Chut de Bol!” moment. 😛
The Iceman Melteth Award: I’m sure someone has made a gif of Tito’s reaction to Villa’s goal by now. Tito may have the best poker face in the business, but the pressure he was feeling was evident from that sheer eruption of joy. And I was right there screaming with him. I might not be welcome at that Christian bookstore anymore, by the way.
Tin Ear Award: Our Song was definitely out of tune yesterday. For long periods of time he seemed to forget that he was playing CB instead of DM, or else he was under the impression that he was Pique–charging forward and leaving Mascherano completely exposed at the back. He did make some brilliant tackles and blocks, but for every excellent play there was a corresponding piece of idiocy. He needs to be a lot more aware of what is happening behind him.
Kitchen Sink Award: Tito Vilanova, who damned the torpedoes and threw everything we had up front as the second half proceeded. We ended the game with Messi, Villa, Tello, Pedro, Cesc, Xavi, and Thiago all on the pitch, and it paid off. I’m not much for tactics, but you have to admit that Tito is not afraid to take risks to get a result. Amb dos pebrots!
MOTM Award: Tough one. No one was at their best. Alba had a decent game, as did Busquets, but I think the best of our lot was Xavi, who just kept doing what he does and keeping up the pressure until rabbits started jumping out of hats. Honorable mentions to Villa, whose appearance added a much-needed injection of energy to the team, and Palops, the Sevilla GK who, despite shipping 3 goals, was at fault for none of them and is having one hell of a season so far.
Golden Curl Award: Cesc is like the little girl who had a little curl right in the midfield of his forehead. When he is good he is very very good, and when he is bad he is horrid. He was both in this game. Two goals after such a long drought will do wonders for his confidence, but he also lost the ball numerous times and sent several wayward crosses into empty space. And then there was the whole “Not the face!” escapade.
Zinedine Zidane Memorial Red Card: Was Medel’s sending-off harsh? Yes, it was. Was it justified? Yes, it was. It’s not the call I would have made as a ref, but if you are going to indulge in off-the-ball testosterone-driven aggression, you should be ready to accept the consequences, up to and including a red card. Embarrassed as I am by Cesc’s exaggerated reaction, Medel was in the wrong and it his own fault he had to take a walk.
Rosell-Cruyff Joint Award For Running Your Mouth: Xavi, Busi, oh heck, pretty much our whole team was in the running for this one! It’s been a while since I’ve seen so much mouthing off to the referee. Sevilla made a pretty good run at winning this one as well, and in fact I will have to award it to their manager Michel who got himself sent off in the closing minutes. (You may be interested to know that I have also developed a Rosell-Cruyff-branded pacifier to keep the next generation of Barca big-mouths shut.)
How Do You Spell Relief? Award: P-U-Y-O-L! Our indomitable captain has been declared fit and available for Tuesday’s game against Benfica. Personally I would prefer him not to start that game, maybe just get a few minutes or so, and keep him in reserve for El Clasico. I have much more piece of mind knowing that we can play a Puyol-Masche backline against RM. Phew!