Simply put, I’m still riding the high from el clásico. Simply put, I don’t know what to write about. It’s been 48 hours since the final whistle blew and we took the league by the scruff of the neck. In a few more days we may even be able to say that we then shook the league by its neck scruff until it went limp like a ragdoll in a rottweiler’s iron grip, but for now, I’m just enjoying the post match scramble by madridistas to get something, anything from it.
Madrid-centric bloggers should be forgiven for trying to do so, of course, but most of their thinking–we were the better team, check out the number of shots on target we had!–is farcical at best and contrary to everything I saw on the screen. I even have the benefit of looking at it from a charitable “well we won” perspective and, having seen the match again, I just don’t understand how that claim is anything but self-deluding nonsense. And yes, I’m sure I’m guilty of just that at times as well, but I think that, 48 hours later, it’s impossible to say anything other than that we dominated that match as completely as you can against a side as talent-laden as RM. I’m struggling to think of two clear chances for Madrid–there was van der Vaart’s one-on-one against Valdes that he blew/that Valdes destroyed with his absurd one-on-one skills, but what else? Benzema’s header that went wide? Crynaldo’s weak shot from distance? Guti or Gago’s shots from distance? That’s your danger? That’s you being the better team? I confess to not understanding.
Pellegrini should go, they’re shouting from the reality-ignoring Marca offices, claiming Mourinho will come, Benitez will be here, what about Capello? What of Wenger? Shit, throw Maradona’s hat into the ring, why don’t you? It’s not like you can become more absurd, right? And all of that contrasts so heavily with the front of Sport and El Mundo Deportivo the last 2 days. It feels so much like football won that I think I’m beginning to ignore reality and finally–finally–just really start to enjoy watching these guys play. It won’t last forever and I want to look back on it and say that I stopped, took a deep breath and smelled those fucking gorgeous roses.
And I am. Or at least I hope I am. In the moments that I’m negative, when we’re not winning, I try to remind myself that there is more to life than always winning, but then sometimes I let my emotions get the better of me anyway and I openly curse the mouth of hell that emitted such things as the Evil Empire and the Twilight series. Such things happen.
But it’s about disfrutando, about enjoying, about slowly understanding that the game is a living organism, that it is art in athletic maneuvers, that there is no right or wrong answer, but that there are goods and bads. I like to think that Messi is the Pablo Picasso of this team, Xavi the Salvador Dali, and for some reason Pedro strikes me as the Fernando Botero. I came to those conclusions because Messi does mind-bending things that push the limits of reality, Xavi does mind-bending things that eviscerate reality while making you think it’s all quite simple (and he’s Catalan!), and, I guess, Pedro likes fat people. I won’t take it too far, except to say that we’ve left the Dutch masters far behind even if their influence on us is far too obvious to ignore.
I’m not a man of deep artistic understanding, but I think I understand genius when I see it and I’ve seen genius right down to the core in Pep Guardiola, whose audacity and brains seem to work in perfect harmony with the talent around him. Frank Rijkaard had the temerity to simply let Ronaldinho play, to put Lionel Messi on the field, to arrive at the pinnacle of international club football by playing. It was wonderful and it laid the groundwork in a lot of ways for what came afterwards, but Guardiola seems beyond that–the playing is inherent, it is in the DNA now, it’s the strategy and astuteness of each move, like a grandmaster knowingly pushing his inferior opponent to the brink 25 moves ahead. You can see it coming, but what are you going to do to stop it? Pellegrini acts like a beaten man, but it’s hardly his fault; he’s going up against the perfect storm at Barça and that is a fate he has obviously accepted.
And I love it. This is a wonderful time to be a cule. It is a wonderful time to be a football fan, really, with such brilliance on display, it’s hard not to get involved as a neutral supporter, as First Division side Ross County beats Celtic at Hampden Park in the Scottish Cup, as the beautiful triumphs over the nauseatingly “direct”, as the pundits finally crow about something that’s been under their noses for years. I feel closer to football than ever before and it’s because finally, finally, there’s something to cheer about beyond the team. And that, of course, is where all the fun really lies.
Feel free to parse my words in the comments or have your say. I’ll be back tomorrow with oh so much more fun. It’s Depor and a nice roundup of where we stand over the coming weeks.