The Third Method

It’s incredible. It’s appalling. We won’t know what to do until we understand what’s really going down. Everyone seems to be involved … is everyone to blame? It’s a real scandal.

I know everyone is feeling a little bummed lately. But there’s nothing like a good, old-fashioned Spanish scandal to buck you right up. Bad taste, you say? Italian scandals are bad taste (cf. “Berlusconi bunga-bunga party”). British scandals are seamy (hack, cough, hack hack), American scandals are cringe-worthy (cigar, anyone?) and French scandals … well, French scandals bore me. What’s the point of living a double-love life if everyone is going to be so well-behaved at the funeral? Haven’t these people ever seen one of their own comedies?

But Spanish scandals are comedy platinum. The first season, ever, in the whole world franchise of “Survivor”, in which the shipwrecked contestants actually produce fire (The Case of the Hidden Zippo). The legendary flamenco singer who swindles the lovesick mayor out of all the money he embezzled from the public trust (The Case of the Big Fat Crooked Sap). And now there’s … Método 3!

la camargaI’ll do my best to explain, but it’s kind of complicated because whenever journalists try to explain it they wind up giggling. See, it all starts at La Camarga, an upscale dining establishment and favorite haunt of Barcelona politicians. Apparently, there was some curiosity as to whether the sons of a certain former president (Pujol – no relation) of a certain province  (Catalunya – one and the same) were somehow indebted to their father for their professional success. (The phenomenon is nearly unheard-of in Spain, where it is commonly referred to as “el enchufe”.)

The topic came up almost casually, it seems, between the leader of the conservative and national-leading party, the Partido Popular (let’s call her “Alicia”) and her dining companion, the lovely María Victoria, who would know, since she’s an ex-girlfriend of one of the aforementioned sons and therefore has little reason to fabricate. Apparently, according to reliable sources, “the sonofabitch lugged bags of euros into Andorra without even bringing me a bottle of Chanel No. 5 from the damn duty-free shop” (or that’s the gist of it, anyway.)

Now, what business is it of ours what Alicia and María Victoria carp about over their salted cod? Well, someone wanted to know, because as it turns out … the table was bugged! Bugged! A mic was hidden right in the middle of the complimentary gerber daisy vase! And when Alicia leaned over to smell it, she got a squirt of Vichy Catalan right in the eye! No, that’s not true. But who’s running this outfit, anyway? Clarabel the Clown?

facturaI, your intrepid casual news-watcher and sometime Wikipediaist, know. Método 3 (as in “tres”), that’s who. Método 3 is a spy agency that may have been hired by the PP’s political rivals to spy on Catalunya’s regional parties, or maybe by the PP’s political rivals to spy on the PP, or by Mr. Pujol to spy on María Victoria, but it’s hard to say, because the mic stayed in the gerber-daisy vase for, like, three months! Three months of recorded conversations from everyone who’s anyone enough to get a seat at La Camarga. Just imagine the juicy gossip … of course, if you’ve ever had the pleasure to visit a Peninsular eatery, you might wonder, like me, why the mic, because everyone talks at the top of their lungs with their mouths full. Maybe the responsible party should have requested the next table and just shut the hell up. It would have been cheaper, too, because Método 3 sends out Quickbook invoices with IVA included, and super-secret gerber-daisy mics apparently don’t come none too cheap.

Método 3, for all its Marx-Brothers methodology (kinda makes you wonder what methods 1 and 2 were, to be so cavalierly discarded), is experiencing a regular boom among Barcelona’s would-be-in-the-knowers. Several political parties, as it turns out, have enlisted the agency’s services. And – and this is my favorite part – La Camarga itself has contracted Método 3, allegedly to spy on its own employees (watch out for that gerber-mic as you re-fill the water glasses, Ramón). Definitely not, we are to assume, to get the goods on their own classy clientele or identify a possible Michelin critic (it’s got one star already). When the police raided the Método 3 headquarters to investigate accusations of “political espionage” (as if a spy agency were to do something besides espionage), they found pages and pages of documents, and gerber-daisy mics (I suppose), and … weaponry. You never know when an ex-girlfriend is going to go ballistic over  lumpy flan, I guess.

pique por favorWhat has all of this to do with BFB, footy, recent slump, etc., you ask? Last week, I would have confessed, Very little. I just think it’s a hoot, is all. As far as politics go, there are a lot of manchegos pointing out that for a unique and particular people as the catalans, that the situation smacks seriously of, and I quote, “100% chapuza española”. But then it came to light that our own Pepmaster Guardiola, Coach of the Six Cups, was also a Método 3 client. Yes! There have been a few Barça players stalked by the Third Methoders, including Deco, Ronaldinho and … Gérard Piqué! What ever happened to trust? To sportsmanship? To a gentleman’s honor and all that?

I wonder what happened to common sense. What was Método 3 going to discover, anyway? That Deco was secretly a homebody with four cats? Ronaldinho practiced his Brazilian celebration boogies in the privacy of his living room? And what about Piqué? You’ll never guess, but secretly … Shakira’s totally hot! They’re a sweet couple, but they’re not going to win “Saber y Ganar: Celebrity Edition” anytime soon? The secret meaning of code words “moc moc”? It’s like the gerber-daisy mic. Way too complicated. If you wanted to know what Piqué was up to, Pep, all you had to do was follow Pujol’s (our Pujol’s) Twitter account. Instagram!

foto

 See? Now you all cheered up.

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SoccerMom obsesses over FCB and this blog instead of grading papers, burning dinner and/or raising her small children. She blames a Spanish husband and easy access to Hispanic-targeted cable sports channels for her football addiction and consequent failure as a professor, housekeeper and mother.

200 Comments

  1. jordi™
    March 5, 2013

    Evra was through on goal at the Bernabeu and Varane fouled him but far from send him off, the referee didn’t even call a foul. 3 weeks later, another of Uefa’s finest sends of Nani for something far less obvious. The inconsistency is getting more than annoying.

    • March 5, 2013

      Do you really think so? I thought the red was harsh, but not completely out of the universe. This was confirmed by most analysis shows phoning in refs and asking them. Nani did have a leg so high and he was no where near the ball. But let’s say it was undeserved (i wouldn’t have given a red)…

      RVP was offside on the Ramos own goal. And right after the red card, Rafael clears the ball off the line with his hand. That’s a red and a penalty. I would much rather have the Rafael call + penalty than the Nani red.

      When the game is played at such a high pace, it’s really hard to get these calls right. Not sure introducing replay technology would help, as it would slow down the game.

    • March 6, 2013

      First of all it’s never a red card – simply because Nani wasn’t charging on to Arbeloa with his foot raised. There both are coming from a V angle. There is no way that’s a red not even a yellow. And what does it mean that he was nowhere near the ball. Are you blind?

      Remember the issue you guys created when Pepe was sent off for the foul on Alves. Pepe clearly went with his foot at(straight at) alves, but you guys won’t recognize.

      But in football these kind of decision happens. But you guys are the biggest hypocrites. Had this happen with us – you would have been crying UEFAloan, UNICEF etc , now what.

    • March 6, 2013

      I do have a major myopia and astigmatism, butt the doctor said has a side effect of hypocritisis. I’ll be fine, though. I just need to double check with him on the side effects.

    • March 6, 2013

      didn’t say it has a side***. I should learn how to type.

    • K_legit in Oz
      March 6, 2013

      What are you even talking about?

    • March 6, 2013

      Boy that’s not the side effect or symptom… That’s the root cause of your problem 😉

      Get that fixed, Myopia and astigmatism will be cured.

    • March 6, 2013

      Bassam is right. High boot, studs up, that’s always going to be a red. People sit in a broadcast booth or watch on TV and say “Well, that was harsh.” In the blink of an eye, at the speed at which elite athletes travel? Looks like the real deal.

      Yes, refs are supposed to be able to boil all that momentum down, etc, etc. But they are as human as we are.

      Should the ref have taken the match into consideration and given the yellow? It depends. There are the folks who say that a foul is a foul, whether in the second or 92nd minute. Others say that a foul is not a foul, that when the match is on the line, you shouldn’t call certain things, “letting the players decide.”

      But are you letting the players decide, if one does something illegal, and the rules aren’t enforced? And further, aren’t the players STILL deciding the match in the second minute? So that yellow that you call early but not late, is STILL affecting the match.

      Anyhow, Bassam is good people, and as level-headed as they come when discussing the bosom of evil (hehehehe!). We agree on a great many things, including this incident.

    • March 6, 2013

      @ Bassam welcome back, haven’t seen you in a while.

      you’ll have to forgive AllAboutFCBarcelona he is just a bit excited with all the fortunate refereeing your team has had the last 5 big games 😉

      It should have never been a red card for Nani. He didn’t challenge for the ball he simply raised his leg in order to receive it. Neither was he nowhere near it – he actually made contact with it a split second before Arbeloa ran into him.

    • G6O
      March 6, 2013

      @ Kxevin: Exactly the same thing Nani did is done by multiple players each game. The difference is that it is usually done in plenty of space and nobody from the other teams connects with the boot. And that’s what Nani thought was the case here too – he simply didn’t see him, and if anything, Arbeloa had better view of the situation.

      According to your logic, we should start giving yellow card every time someone tries to control that kind of ball with his foot.

      That’s absurd.

      It’s a contact sport, and sometimes collisions happen by accident, without any intent to do harm. Yellow and red cards are there to prevent intentional foul play, not those unavoidable situations.

    • March 6, 2013

      Okay, let’s try it this way:

      Make Nani Pepe, and Arbeloa Iniesta. Same point in the same match otherwise. What would cules be saying then?

      I think that team-specific myopia can sometimes lead us to things that might not otherwise be there. We all do it.

      That is was a bad call is beyond argument. That it was a call that the official made for a reason that he thought was valid is also worth considering. And that is my point.

  2. KEVINO17
    March 5, 2013

    The schadenfreude (against ManU) on the Guardian is quite awesome.

  3. KEVINO17
    March 6, 2013

    Dear Mr UEFA, can Barcelona puleese have a sending-off against Milan. Golly Gosh, it would help so much. Thanks in advance.
    Barcelona Fan.

  4. March 6, 2013

    – Scholes’ disallowed goal against Porto.
    – Offside Milito goal against Barca.
    – Bojan’s disallowed goal against Inter.
    – Nani’s sending off.
    Oh Mou, I’d love for you to win one CL cleanly.

    • March 6, 2013

      A devil’s advocate could say the same about Barça, right? The Lehmann sending off against Arsenal, the Overbo stuff, etc. I don’t think that ANY Champions League champion has gotten there without getting, at some point in the knockout stages, a call that raises eyebrows. It’s just part of a game that is adjudicated by humans.

    • March 6, 2013

      It would be a DEVIL’s advocate, though. Our players were protesting against Lehman’s sending off because it meant our goal was cancelled also. I think we were extremely lucky with some of Overbo’s decisions and Chelsea was right to be outraged (although we were denied a clear penalty in the Camp Nou, so who knows).

      Madrid has gotten major, game-changing decisions in their last 4 big games (2 clásicos and the two CL legs). In Spain we are used to this, but it is still amazing.

      Again, we are the biggest sport in the world. How our governing bodies don’t let video technology back up live referees for big decisions is beyond me…

    • March 6, 2013

      Basically this ^^^ and wasn’t abidal also sent off wrongly? maybe the ref was trying to make amends in that case..
      but additionally, at the risk of opening a can of worms, I’d argue that Certain teams are more likely to suffer in case of a 50/50 situation .
      I’ve observed over the years that Barca’s style of play (in their control of games and the seeming ease) makes it very hard for a ref to not want to help other teams. So a close penalty will most likely not be given cos the ref’s thinking why gift this gifted side a goal? they can create another one
      An atrociously great goal executed with ease will be called offside if its very close.
      A defender getting in a clean tackle will be booked for a foul because you simply don’t see these guys defend. when it happens rarely, it makes the team look, I don’t know.. greedy, rash. I don’t mean to assert, just putting out some fodder for debate on this perhaps unspoken reality.
      It just STUNS me how FIFA cannot install a 3rd umpire with access to the replays and a phone to the ref on field. We’d be talking about seconds. That a high stakes game can be spoilt by of a moment of human stupidity that is protected under some faff that it makes the game unpredictable and exciting really frustrates me with all the technological progress we and sports too, have made.

  5. nzm
    March 6, 2013

    4 match suspension for VV.

    He’ll miss the Depor, Rayo, Celta and Mallorca games.

    Could have been worse – Ramos got more for his outburst.

    • March 6, 2013

      Apparently the club is appealing, which I don’t see the point of. Valdes lost the plot. Understandable in the circumstances, but you can’t say he doesn’t deserve the ban, especially as we already know how hard the referees are cracking down on verbal abuse this season.

      And just to be pedantic for a moment, Ramos got a 4-match ban for his outburst as well, plus one more match for the offense that got him sent off. So they both received the same punishment for abusing the ref.

    • March 6, 2013

      Still not sure why he went nuts like that. Any insight, anyone?

    • March 6, 2013

      He was furious about the missed penalty call when Adriano was fouled in the box. Had Barça been given it (and scored), the game would have been tied. What other reason would he need?

    • March 6, 2013

      But we have had ridiculous decisions before and he hasn’t gone crazy like that.

    • March 6, 2013

      This was a Clasico.

    • March 6, 2013

      Still beyond my imagining. Ronaldinho got run down by Past Diarra in the box in a Classic, and things weren’t that crazy. That was also in their house. It was uncharacteristic behavior by a player who should know better and has done better. I’d tack on an extra game for stupidity.

    • March 6, 2013

      Completely gree with the ban. Also agree with VV – the referees are a disgrace.

    • sd
      March 6, 2013

      Valdes made huge saves and kept Barca in the game. As a goalkeeper myself when you do that and your team has a chance to level it up but a player blows it, its disheartening and infuriating. When a ref does it, its even worse. Regardless of how much respect you have for refs given that they are human and do a very thankless job, the moment can get the better of you. To him it must have felt like all his work had been undone.

    • March 6, 2013

      I don’t think referees are a disgrace. I think they are human beings, like any of us, who make mistakes.

      Once at work, for a cover story, I wrote a caption that confused a Seurat work for a Caillebotte. BOTH are major, iconic pieces at the Art Institute of Chicago. I know the works, I know the museum, I am the visual arts editor. And I screwed the pooch. Yes, there was a reason. Which is immaterial.

      So we wrote a correction, which didn’t say “Hey, the editor had a massive brain cramp, so we screwed the pooch!”

      Was I a “disgrace?” No. I was a human being who made an error. We all have.

    • March 6, 2013

      If a player jumps up with both hands stretched in the air it is a disgrace that the ref does not blow his whistle.

      When Xabi Alonso ran full speed into Pedro and sent him rolling down like a bowling pin it is a disgrace when the referee does not blow his whistle.

      And when one team has 19 fouls and the other 5 yet both end up with 3 yellow cards the referee is a disgrace.

      Mostly though, it is a disgrace that so many big games are decided by ridiculously bad and hugely influential calls while readily available video technology is not used (especially in the CL and the WC)

    • nzm
      March 6, 2013

      So, to be pedantic with applying the ban time to VV, he should have got a 1-2 game ban for the direct Red Card and a 4 game ban for the Abuse? 😀

      If I was the club, I’d be shutting up about now and forgetting about any appeal, lest the RFEF Judiciary remembers that they’ve punished VV too lightly when compared to Ramos!

    • March 7, 2013

      No, Michele, that’s not how it works. (And he didn’t get a direct red card, he got two yellows.)

      He got the first yellow card for the abuse. He got the second yellow card for continuing the abuse. That’s the 4 match ban.

      Ramos got a first yellow card for something or other. Later he got a second yellow card for a foul & got sent off. That’s a on-e match ban. Then he abused the ref. That’s the other 4 matches.

  6. March 6, 2013

    Regarding the red card incident yesterday. As I understand it, red cards are all about intent. Is the offending player intending to cause harm. In this case I just dont see how the referee or the linesman could have seen it that way. Nani was fixated on the ball, all the way, at no point did he look to see Arbeloa rushing in as well. In fact he was so fixated on the ball i doubt he knew anyone was there at all. He was clearly going for the ball, he even got a faint touch on it. Was it a high boot, yes, but we see those ALL the time and unless there is clearly intent to harm the other player reds are never given.

    Remember this? – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ciAK9Aoq1wo

    Now that is a red card cos DeJong is clearly intent on hurting Alonso. His eyes are not on the ball at all and his foot ends up nowhere near the ball and yet the ref decided to give him a yellow because even in that situation he didnt think a high boot should ruin the game.

    Sorry, awful decision yesterday anyway you look at it.

    • G6O
      March 6, 2013

      Exactly

    • March 6, 2013

      I think everyone agrees that it was a bad decision. The only debate I think is the how/why of the decision. I saw it in real time and said “Nani’s off.” It was only after benefit of the slo-mo that I reconsidered. The ref didn’t have that luxury.

      And as someone else notes, had Nani leapt to his feet and apologized to the player instead of doing his “Don’t card me, I’m hurt” pantomime, it might well have only been a yellow. Ref could easily have decided that his playacting was to distract from his intent.

    • Jim
      March 6, 2013

      I’m afraid the laws of the game don’t make allowances for intent in this case. The only consideration is probably was it dangerous play or not. For me, the reason something becomes dangerous (i.e.. a tackle) is a combination of where it lands on the victim and the speed with which it is inflicted ( which kinda encapsulates intent).

      In this situation, even if you accept that Arbeloa was caught on the chest which is unlikely given the replays the question becomes was it dangerous. It would have been dangerous imo if the foot had been travelling at speed ( which it wasn’t) or if it had caused damage ( which it didn’t.) In fact, Arbeloa’s reaction was disgraceful given that he saw the whole thing happening and still attempted to run through it to maximise the incident in the eyes of the ref. )

      We can clearly see that he didn’t know Arbeloa was coming ( disregarding Roy Keane’s opinion that it was a justified red last night because such criteria applied to him would have meant he spent more time on the sidelines than playing and also he would be anti Man U no matter what given the circumstances of his departure. A horrible man imo. ) Given that, it is clearly a decision where the referee can choose to do nothing and tell Arbeloa to get up and man up as it wasn’t intentional and didnt hurt him – my preferrred option, give him a yellow or give him a red.

      The fact that he chose red tells us more about the referee than it does about the incident.

    • March 6, 2013

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pI0aYHVSIhw

      Even on this replay, even on slo-mo, it’s clear that the high boot makes contact with the player, studs up. Generally, if a high boot comes in with studs up AND makes contact with a player, a red is the usual result. I would argue that rather than setting a template for leniency, the non-red against De Jong was patently absurd.

      There IS an extra little push that Nani makes after he makes contact and the ball is gone. It is abundantly clear at the 1:33 mark of this YouTube video. It is a red card offense from that moment. If he tries to control the ball and makes contact with Arbeloa, absent of the little extra push, it’s probably a yellow. But Nani was stupid and petulant.

      Did he know Arbeloa was coming? He’d be a player with appalling pitch vision if he didn’t. Did Arbeloa come in at the wrong (right for his team) angle, guaranteeing that Nani would make contact? You bet. And if Nani hadn’t gone for the little bit extra, he might not have cost his team. And if an RM player (or any other player) goes into one of our players, making contact with a boot high like that, cules are screaming bloody murder.

      Yes, Arbeloa’s reaction was excessive. But Nani topped him. And yes, the RM players did come to the ref, pointing out the incident. The ref waved them away. It was clear from the “I got this” gesture that Nani was gone.

    • March 6, 2013

      about de Jong incident…

      if it in any way helps my credibility when it comes to judging arbitral decisions: I, as a Dutchman, was stunned he did not get a red card for his “tackle” on Xabi Alonso. Was very grateful that he didn’t but it was a ridiculously bad call of Howard Webb.

    • Jim
      March 6, 2013

      Sorry, but answering Kxevin above.

      It does make contact with the player but as I said not at speed and certainly not with any force on the area Arveloa is holding or his body would have either slowed down or turned before Arbeloa’s dramatic endeavours forced it to. Watch the immediate effect after impact.

      Secondly, you can CLEARLY see that Nani doesn’t see him coming just by looking at the angle of his head. It’s not an argument to say he must have when the pictures clearly show he didn’t. The angle the boot hit at was probably better seen admittedly last night on ITV where it showed it from quite a few angles.

      Finally, if a high red boot was an automatic red we’d see quite a few double sending offs as two players both vye for a high ball with feet up while seeing and running towards the opponent. Remember the last time we saw that? I can’t. So its not the fact that a boot is high which determines anything.

      What 1:33 shows me is that it was a glancing blow ( if you push into the body it wont come off at that angle) and therefore not one which would inflict any damage, a suspicion borne out by the fact that Arbeloa suffered no damage.

    • March 6, 2013

      True, but the question is does damage have to occur for the red to be shown? And what I mean by Nani had to have known is that any player worth a damn knows who is in the vicinity, even if he doesn’t know exactly where he is.

      I think the two players going for the ball thing is different from a high boot with studs up going into a seemingly defenseless opponent, even if that opponent is a douchebag.

      If a player contacted one of our players the way that Nani did Arbeloa, I would want him sent off.

    • replayed
      March 6, 2013

      But to extend your own argument, actual damage has nothing to do with anything.

      To quote the laws, “a tackle that endangers the safety of an opponent must be sanctioned as serious foul play.” A sending-off offense.

      It’s the potential for damage which the referee must adjudge, and Nani gave the ref plenty of grounds to ruin the match.

    • Jim
      March 6, 2013

      I was more trying to make the point that I don’t think there is necessarily any danger involved just because the boot was high.

      I think I said in my original post that for me there have to be two elements to constitute danger. You aren’t posing any danger if there is no speed in your movement especially to that part of the body. It would be much more dangerous lower down imo. If it were potential for damage you would have a sending off every time two players went to head a ball together especially if one was in front and backheaders the ball on but you really don’t see these given a red, not because its not dangerous – heads are the most dangerous area there is – but because the one in front usually doesn’t see the one behind is about to header the same ball. And that’s where I think intent comes in even although the laws don’t recognise it.

      If you ever try to bring down a high ball travelling at speed like that you’ll know that you cant afford to take your eyes off it for a second. It’s not like Xavi can afford to do when its on the ground by taking a quick look around then focussing again.

      Nani is one of my least favourite players ( and many will be aware that SAF is one of my least favourite people despite being a Scot) but on this occasion I think Nani was done in by a ref who could have chosen a different action but chose to take the most punitive one. The very fact that there is a ( rather lively and enjoyable!) discussion seems to me to suggest there is more than a little doubt as to whether it merited a straight red.

    • replayed
      March 6, 2013

      No argument that Nani, SAF and the ref are all prats.

      But I think you need to break down Nani’s actions into two stages (or phases if you will).

      There’s the attempt to control the ball. And then there’s the kick out at the end.

      Just because Nani’s foot was in the general vicinity of Arbeloa’s torso at the end of the first phase doesn’t excuse his actions in the second phase.

      A foot in the ribs may not kill you, but neither will a broken leg. If actions that put legs at risk can be deemed dangerous, then so should actions that put ribs at risk.

      Plus, people routinely get sent off for raising their hands to an opponent’s face. This doesn’t endanger the opponent but still qualifies as “violent conduct,” another sending-off offence.

      So on the strength of Nani’s actions in the second phase, the ref had him on either “serious foul play” (if the referee thought the ball was still being contested) or “violent conduct” (if the referee thought the ball — long gone at that point — was no longer being contested.)

    • March 6, 2013

      Sorry, replayed, but you are completely wrong.

      Demy de Zeeuw got kicked in the face so hard in Holland’s semifinal game against Uruguay at WC 2010 that he had to leave the game with a head injury.

      The Uruguayan (I think Caceres but I’m not sure) got a yellow card. Nobody complained, because although it was a dangerous play he was trying to clear the ball (with an overhead kick).

      Nani was had his leg up high but he was not applying any force. He was neither kicking nor tackling. He was just lifting his legs to control the pass. Fair play to Arbeloa for going in full force in order to win the ball, but it was a collision – no foul play of either player, although a card-happy referee could have been an *ss and given Nani a yellow.

      The red card was truly and utterly ridiculous.

    • March 6, 2013

      The very fact that there is a ( rather lively and enjoyable!) discussion seems to me to suggest there is more than a little doubt as to whether it merited a straight red.

      Not to mention high-quality, and good-natured discussion.

      For me, I certainly think the red changed the match, and if the ref had it to do all over again, he probably wouldn’t call it the same way, even as I understand why he called it that way initially.

    • replayed
      March 6, 2013

      Nani was had his leg up high but he was not applying any force.

      Sorry, Levon, but you’re only takin into account what I called the first phase, the attempt to control the ball.

      That was a yellow card offense at worst, no argument.

      But I’m arguing that Nani got sent off for what he did in the second phase, the kick out into Arbeloa, which you have in no way acknowledged.

    • March 6, 2013

      oh i’m sorry, you’re right, i didn’t.

      First Nani received the ball with his leg high a split second before Arbeloa barged into him challenging for the same ball.

      What you somehow perceive as him kicking out is simply his right leg reacting to his loss of balance due to the collision. In doing so it softly nudged Arbeloa’s elbow. Hardly any murderous intent. Watch it again.

    • replayed
      March 6, 2013

      This is where it gets down to interpretation, where there is always room for disagreement in good faith.

      The way I see it, if Nani were really trying to regain his balance, his foot would instinctively move down and in. But his foot clearly moves up and out.

      And if you watch the ref when he’s surrounded by the United players after the red card, he clearly makes the gesture of pushing out with his flattened hand. That’s why he zapped Nani.

  7. ilie
    March 6, 2013

    His foot pushes into Arbeloa at the end, that’s why it was a red. Now can we please stop bitching and get back to our own issues?

    • March 6, 2013

      No, no, please let us keep bitching about this! It’s such a nice change from bitching about our own team. 😛

    • replayed
      March 6, 2013

      Yeah, this was a compound case of “dangerous play” and “serious foul play.”

      At first I thought it was just “dangerous play,” which, according to the laws of the game, is punishable by a yellow card.

      But Nani’s choice to grind his foot into Arbeloa, whom he knew was also coming for the ball, pushes it into “serious foul play.”

      In a way, Nani only made things worse for himself by rolling around on the ground for such a long time. My guess is that he might have gotten away with just a yellow card from the referee if action had resumed quickly. But all that dead time gave the various assistants plenty of time to advise the referee that Nani had been very naughty at the end of the challenge.

    • replayed
      March 6, 2013

      “WHO he knew was also coming…” Ack.

    • Jim
      March 6, 2013

      Not sure how you grind your foot effectively into someone at that height. Seriously you cant try to do someone damage that high up. Also, I’ve watched it quite a few times and I dont see his head turning until the foot is already high up.

      Maybe I’m just losing some flexibility 🙂

    • replayed
      March 6, 2013

      Nani knew exactly what he was doing.

      To realize that he knew Arbeloa was coming, you have to catch the replay early enough to notice that Nani does look upfield just as he starts his run towards the ball. Then for the next three or four seconds, he only has eyes for the ball as he tries to pluck it out of the air. While he doesn’t turn his head again until contact, he definitely knew that Arbeloa was coming and he wasn’t backing down from any challenge.

      I’d also argue that his decision to push his foot into Arbeloa at the moment of contact betrays his clear intent. He would tried to withdraw his foot had there been any element of surprise. Worse, he wasn’t merely bracing for contact. He was taking the offensive. This pushes it into “serious foul play.”

      I have the sneaking suspicion that SAF was so apoplectic because he was mostly furious at himself for trusting dunderhead Nani in such a huge match. Dollars to donuts, Nani’s career at United is done.

  8. Choba
    March 6, 2013

    I am just calm about how madrid play and how they think they are good, they think that they dominated barça and even mu (yes a lot of madrid fans think they dominated mu), and that’s a good think because if barça go through milan and face somehow madrid they will beat them.

    Madrid are measuring their greatness against a dull barça and an unlucky mu and they are forgetting the great help of the referees each time. So for me is a good thing for barça, now the later should just wake up and if so we will see good things coming !

    • Jim
      March 6, 2013

      Not for me. They are playing at their peak just now and are pretty capable. However, if we play at our best or they drop we are back in business.

  9. TITO
    March 6, 2013

    As for dubious moments last night, what about that CLEAR penalty from Diego Lopez on Vidic’s header? The GK missed the ball, Vidic got it first, and instead of punching the ball he actually punched his head.
    And on top of that, a foul is given for the visitors. Hilarious. 😀

    • March 6, 2013

      Nope, he did manage to touch the ball first.

    • TITO
      March 6, 2013

      Nope, he didn’t touch the ball at all.

    • March 6, 2013

      I wouldn’t have given a penalty for that as there was no intent, but I would think the case for penalty and straight red after forcefully punching someone up the side of his head is stronger than the ridiculous red card handed out to Nani for trying to receive a pass.

  10. ian_percival
    March 6, 2013

    I learnt something from our recent slack in form,i’v noticed european clubs fear us a lot,they’re scared that we might be unpredictable at this state,remember ”a wounded animal is always dangerous to play with” its like they think we’re pretending by our loss of form,no one has publicly addressed we’re in crisis,no tabloid,newspaper etc.unlike madrid and others when they get roasted by the media after every loss in form.i think its only goal.com that have indirectly said something,i’v been to different madrid blogs and forums and you can sense their fear even though they won us.they still don’t have faith in themselves that they’ve found the antidote to our pattern,just like that strange feeling ”it was way too easy” just like in math,when its too easy for you,then you know you’re getting it wrong

    • March 6, 2013

      Don’t trust journalist speculation. That article is no more grounded in objective knowledge than the one about the coaching staff telling Messi not to run. Both are journalists and their opinions.

      Neymar isn’t stupid. Neither is Santos. And frankly, were I advising him, I’d be telling him to take German lessons. As far as the world is concerned, Bayern is on the rise, and Barça is falling. Further, he has a solid, solidified head coach there in Pep Guardiola, rather than a guy who will be recovering from cancer who might or might not be coaching the club next season.

      This doesn’t even take into account the fact that Messi has been chewing up and spitting out world class players, which makes the Barça situation complex for any player with “star” aspirations.

      I would tell him to go to Bayern in two seconds, from an objective worldview.

    • March 6, 2013

      “I would tell him to go to Bayern in two seconds, from an objective worldview.”

      You’re probably right, but somehow Bayern doesn’t hold the same attraction for Brazilians (or any other non-Germans, for the most part) as Barcelona.

      Ronaldo, Romario, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho… That is quite some history.

    • ilie
      March 6, 2013

      I’m not sure he likes Pep any more after the Metodo 3 news 😀

      Also, while everything you say is true, as long as he’s comfortable in sharing the spotlight with Messi, I’m sure he would much rather prefer the conditions in Barcelona and playing in the Spanish league over those in Germany.

    • nzm
      March 6, 2013

      If it comes down to money, a lot is riding on how much Bayern is willing to offer Neymar, Santos and FC Barcelona – the latter if there is a genuine pre-agreement between FCB and Neymar which Bayern would need to buy out.

      The Bavarians have very deep pockets against which Rosell could not even dream to compete.

  11. KEVINO17
    March 6, 2013

    Good video of Milan’s tactics against Barca. Still gobsmacked at how often Barca’s midfielders had their heads up but didn’t have any options for the ball over the top. If Alexis doesn’t play it will be absolutely ridiculous.

    http://vimeo.com/60415150

    • Jafri
      March 7, 2013

      Well either that’s an incomplete tactical video, or Milan basically had just one tactic. Yeah I also found it strange that no one was really making runs at the back for those long balls over the top. It seems the Barcelona system is in one of those stages where it becomes a parody of itself, with everyone trying to tiki-taka the ball into the net. It happens from time to time. We should have just knocked the ball over their high back line. Bypassed all the clutter in the middle. Xavi’s quite good at doing that actually. Wish there’d been a bit more intent from all of them.

      I expect a deeper parked bus in our leg though. So we’ll need to work on the width, the pressing and the half-touch football we occasionally use in our best form.

      And if Messi doesn’t press in THIS match of all matches, bench him!!

    • March 7, 2013

      Now you see why I kept screaming “RUN!!!!” at my television. The spaces and holes were there, just begging to be exploited.

    • KEVINO17
      March 7, 2013

      I think looking for width is a bit of a trap. Iniesta and Messi have to drive through the middle in combo and take their lumps.
      Cesc at holding middie because he’s got better range than Busquets?

    • Jafri
      March 7, 2013

      I’m not all that convinced about width myself because when the lines are as compact as they were in that match it becomes easier for one of the midfield players to drop back and reinforce the back four. Or to have the entire back line shift to one side and stop the ball being crossed to the other side. But it’s an infinitely better tactic than trying to play through the middle; not sure what Kxevin’s talking about but I didn’t see much space for through balls. The defense was compact and seemed to be staggered in such a way as to cut down the passing angles. There didn’t seem to be much space for ground balls at all in my opinion. So either balls over the high back line, or try to stretch them with width and poke a ball through.

      Also I don’t know how I feel about Cesc in the starting lineup. When he’s good he’s really really good, but when he’s bad he’s horrid. Although I suppose the same could be said of our entire team right now…

    • KEVINO17
      March 7, 2013

      No, I’m actually talking about trying to dribble through the middle or playing very quick one-twos. Messi and Iniesta are the two best dribblers in the world. The moment there is a half-chance, they should drive forward and try to suck in defenders and attract fouls. And when they lose the ball, Barca has to press hard to win it back.
      I know it’s a dangerous tactic. But we are 2-0 down.

    • Jafri
      March 7, 2013

      Now from what I remember we didn’t get anywhere because we tried to dribble through the middle and there was no space to do so…

    • KEVINO17
      March 7, 2013

      I don’t think we ever tried to dribble or quick-pass though. We just passed from side to side (which played into their hands).
      One reason we didn’t try to go “up the guts” (as they say in rugby) is that Iniesta was wasted out on the wing and he kept bumping into Cesc (who is a passer rather than a dribbler) and Messi was hovering around on the forward line.
      Anyway, I think that unless we force their midfield defenders to commit to tackles we’re not going to get anywhere.

    • Jim
      March 7, 2013

      Absolutely brilliant, Kxevin. Thanks for that. Could so sympathise with the players.

      Why Villa?

    • March 7, 2013

      Every time I saw him standing around instead of running around to drive the defense crazy …. BZZZZT!

      The guy trying to take the throw in had me weeping.

    • Jim
      March 7, 2013

      Yeah. The guys on the buzzers had a great sense of comic timing.

  12. Jafri
    March 7, 2013

    I don’t think both Alves and Alba should start unless one of them is willing to be more conservative in going forward. And I’d love to see the Alexis Villa Pedro lineup with Messi Iniesta Busquets in the middle but that’s about as likely to happen as seeing oil can in a blaugrana shirt.

  13. March 7, 2013

    Hey dudes and Dudettes!

    Regarding the discussion we had above about the red card. I think you guys would be interested in seeing what Collina had to say

    Spanish: http://futbol.as.com/futbol/2013/03/07/champions/1362682098_345805.html

    English:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2289889/Cuneyt-Cakir-referee-Manchester-Unied-v-Real-Madrid-given-8-2-rating-UEFAs-Pierluigi-Collina.html

    And here are some quotes from what he said:

    Colina: “A player who hits a player from the side, front or back fighting for the ball with one or both legs endangering the player will be guilty of dangerous play and therefore will be punished with a red card”

    “The rules dont talk about whether the player sees or does not see the player, the kick is a red card, the ref was right”

    “I criticize Cakir only for not sending off Ferdinand after the match when Rio applauded him inches from his face”

    “Cakir was right to send off Nani & I agree with his decision not to punish Rafael for handball in United’s area”

    It kinda goes along the lines of what Kxevin said. At the end of the day, if a player is gonna go with that much force and a foot so high, then he needs to make sure there is no harm to other players around. Otherwise, yes it’s accidental, but perhaps still dangerous.

    • nzm
      March 8, 2013

      Thanks Bassam.

      I’m rather bemused that Collina criticises the ref for not carding Rio, but at the same time UEFA chooses not to post-sanction the player. Double standards!

    • replayed
      March 8, 2013

      Collina is wrong. Yeah, I said it.

      “Dangerous play” is only a cautionable offence. So say the laws.

  14. March 7, 2013

    New post up. Be forewarned that it has nothing to do with tactics, matches or any players. But there are some serious allegations being made about Rosell and what/who he didn’t know in the case of ultras finding their way back into the Camp. So. Anyhow.

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