Three Ringed Circus: Copa del Rey Final

Copa Final Preview: Wednesday 3:30pmEST, GolTV

Grass. It’s green, it’s actually a weed. There’s nothing special to it; no one spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on it just so it looks nice. Except it’s everything and yes they do. Estadio Santiago Bernabeu is planted with Desso GrassMaster, an artificial and real combination. The Mestalla in Valencia, where Barcelona and Real Madrid will play the Copa del Rey final tomorrow, is real grass. The Camp Nou is completely real as well.

Having never played on the manicured lawns of a professional stadium, I have no idea how different it would be. No doubt I’d rainbow fools and chilena golazos left and right if given such a surface. But then again, I have played in grass that is far too long, that holds the ball up. I have played bumpy fields that cause random bounces. I have played on patchy fields, undulating fields, and even a field in Guatemala that was went uphill in one direction. And that’s kind of the point: the state of the field matters.

I don’t know if Mourinho really grew the grass at the Bernabeu longer or if he’ll do the same for the Champions League match in a week, but if he did, if he thought that would help, then not doing so, having shorter grass, would logically be a boon for Barça. And if it is true, if a putting green is what we need, then the Mestalla’s slick field, well-kept and certainly prepared for the big stage, will help immensely.

Again, I don’t know if RM really did that. I don’t particularly care because anything that slows us down slows them down too and if they were working with a counter attacking tactical approach, then they sort of shot themselves in the foot. Or maybe I have no idea what I’m talking about and I should go back to my rural Ohio fields covered in crab grass and the occasional golf ball that will turn your ankle. But what I do care about is that we, the sporting public, the cules, the ones who want to know, pay attention to whether or not the ball moves more quickly in Valencia. If the team looks less sluggish, if Villa is suddenly the world beater we all know he is again, and if Messi slides by opponents with ease again.

If those things happen, if Barça is Barça, then you’ll know it’s the field. You’ll know David Villa loves to play with speed, through the back line with pace, rather than holding the ball up and playing slow motion tiki-taka over silly putty turf. Fun to fall on, but not so great for surface passing. Or maybe it will be Guardiola’s team talk, his tactical approach. Will Pedro suddenly have another gear to get into? Will his menace return full force? Again, playing surface or Guardiola? Will Xavi get space and time because you can’t hold that pivoting, hair-gelled midget down 2 games in a row or because Valencia’s groundscrew set the lawnmower to a shorter setting than their Bernabeu counterparts?


Tactics. Approach. Grass. Who gives a rat’s derriere?

Someone will end with 10. Someone will end crying foul. Someone will say it’s a conspiracy. Someone will play act. Someone will cheat. Someone will foul and get away with it. Someone won’t foul and will get booked anyway. These things are preordained because they’re always preordained when you get the 2 most absurd teams in the world together. And yes, I said absurd.

If your president jokes that you’ll win 5-0 and it’s considered a lack of respect and he’s forced to apologize, then you’re absurd. If you’re obsessed with speaking or not speaking at press conferences, with pointing out that you’re ignoring certain journalists for perceived slights, then you’re absurd. If you’re a snazzy dresser who keeps it real all the time and never gets emotionally carried away, then you’re, well…well then you’re Pep Guardiola. But your team is still absurd.

And then when you get those two absurdities together as enemies, as willful combatants in an infinite fight to the death, then the absurdity reaches the point where it’s greater than the sum of its parts. You begin to dissect what grass is used, which ball is in play (Jabulani, renamed Powercell or something of equal marketing fail status), whether the ref has given more penalties to one side than the other: it won’t be fair to one side. It’s never fair, not when your team is on the losing end. Shrug of the shoulders if you did. Thems the breaks, you know.

It’s the circus and the ringmasters are battier than the clowns, the show must always go on, even if there’s nothing new. Ladies and gentleman, welcome to the Big Top, to where the elephants in the room dance for all to see, where the twirling and prancing is just the precursor to the bloodletting of the lion taming. Did you witness that? It’s the old man letting his team have it. Did you hear that? It’s the young star shouting in the tunnel about your king who isn’t his king (even if he may not have said anything, it’s audible).

Copa del Rey final. Barça-Madrid. This is as good as it gets and, really, why not just enjoy it for once? Are we so far beyond the pale that we’ll have to restrain ourselves from throwing things through TVs when the Evil Opposing Team is on screen? I am, but there’s no reason you need to be.

[images from and, respectively]

By Isaiah

Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater Philadelphia area.


  1. I got hectored!

    am I the only one who feel so nervous and scared?

    I know it is ‘just’ a Copa final, but imagining EE lifting the trophy in front of Cules makes me sick and wanna throw up, literally, not figuratively…

    All izz well… All izz well… All izz well… (credit to 3 Idiots)

  2. This is as good as it gets and, really, why not just enjoy it for once?

    I’m trying here, Isaiah, I’m trying… I think I will enjoy it, very much… but only if we win… 😛

    thanks for the preview!

  3. here comes your 19th nervous breakdown…

    Remember y’all, no matter what happens tomorrow, love this team!

    1. yes, soma4…

      because I love this team so much, I feel like I’m gonna have a nervous breakdown everytime I think about ‘em… 🙁

      you have lots of places for love in your heart, don’t you?

      you have a hubby and four kids, but still care so deeply about Barça… I wanna be like you someday! 😀

    2. Aw, thanks! But most of the time I’m grumpy and yes, I have to restrain myself from throwing things at the TV just like Isaiah does. I just don’t like it when we get so negative (and it’s really easy to do that) and forget the tremendous ride this team is taking us on 🙂

    3. Also, she only feeds her family red and blue foods, and makes them pray for trophies every night before bed. You don’t want to be like her! 😀

    4. I’m fortunate to have a hubby that puts up with this footy obsession and shares about 85% of my enthusiasm (and forks up insane money for really really really crappy seats at friendlies).
      Good idea Blitz,Imma get me some food coloring 🙂

  4. If you’re a snazzy dresser who keeps it real all the time and never gets emotionally carried away, then you’re, well…well then you’re Pep Guardiola. But your team is still absurd.

    Awesome. 😛

  5. –I will enjoy it, and I’m not expecting much, just a win. 😉

    –I have seeds of a blog post coming (about cycles of success, cules, fandom in general, and EE) and another one (the evolution of Busi) but I’ve got no time. 🙁 It’s something that would be best served during this Clasico series.

    There will be some cules that will see it as a complete disaster if we lose tomorrow–the ones who have forgotten or haven’t been fans the trophyless years Barca went through. That’s no knock–I wasn’t around to suffer the ’99-’04 trophy drought–but just something to keep in mind.

    Success comes in cycles. We’re currently at the top of it, seeing unprecedented success (unprecedented because Guardiola is still just a young’un managerial wise). Linda eluded to this earlier, but had EE being dominating like we are right now, there would be some serious backlash because there is a lot of anxiety when a bitter rival is so much better than you, and a desperation to come back to the top. This would be made worse by The Cule Complexity. Even when we’re being hailed as possible The Greatest Team Ever! (a little premature IMO), cules find a way to play underdog.

    Anyway, long comment short: this team is still incredible even if David Villa hits the post or kills a play, or Messi goes on a solo dribble instead of passing, or Dani fudges around in the box and loses possession. When the success leaves, we’ll enjoy the memories (“Remember when Iniesta perfectly controlled the ball in mid-air before doing a croqueta on the touchline to bamboozle the defender? Man, that was so awesome!”) until it comes back.

    (I say all of this but I’ll be screaming at the TV and have to be restrained like the rest of you. 😀 )

  6. I’m not really sure what to think of this. I went to espn.soccernet and saw this from Phil Ball:

    “Strange to see Raul Albiol receive a straight red and Dani Alves not even a yellow for his foul on Marcelo. You begin to see Mourinho’s point about a lack of balance in the criteria applied by referees to the two teams.”

    I don’t know if he’s just trying to be contrarian (which is fine, different perspectives in the media are okay), or maybe he’s jumped on the Mourinho “it’s all part of his masterplan!” bandwagon. To be fair, I don’t read a lot of his articles…

    1. Generally Phill Ball is very objective in his analysis, but this comment even caught me by surprise. Makes me think hes just trying to stir the pot. Soccernet’s standard has been in the decline for a while now; it seems more like a tabloid looking for more hits and is in turn sacrificing quality journalism. This article aside, though, i quite enjoy his pieces.

    2. phil usually gets it spot on. but unfortunately no one gets it right all the time. except me. ooga aga.

    3. His articles are usually really, really good. I usually love almost all of his articles.

      This one I think his emotions- he’s a Madrid socio as well though his favorite team is Sociedad- got to him and he wrote on a bit of the heat of the moment or something, cos he usually dismisses suggestions of referee bias, Marca/AS/MD/Sport ridiculousness, and Mourinho whining, as being silly and pointless. And writes great articles that include tons about Spanish culture, lifestyle and history as well as football.

      I posted up this link a couple days ago though. Usually on Mondays I go to Soccernet to read Phil’s articles, and was rather shocked to see he had suggested that as well. But I’ll just assume his emotions ran away with him this time, cos he writes amazing articles usually and is very unbiased (favoring Sociedad aside) generally even when talking about Barca and Madrid.

    4. Care for me to explain? You know i have to make an annoying appearance every couple of days! Plus i just wrote my “rally the troops” post, and I kinda freaked myself out.

      Anyways, i can understand where Phill Ball is going with his comment. Lets say that the foul on Marcelo was in fact legit, as the ref decided to blow his whistle. And if you go back to footage, Marcelo was in the 6-yard box. Yes, he wasn’t going in the most positive direction, but he was in the 6-yard box. We have seen RVP score from tighter and much farther places, so it wasn’t really going to lead to nothing.

      And Alves was the last line of defense ahead of VV. In that sense, if a foul is committed, it has to be cautioned. In the penalty box, a foul stops being about how harsh it was and becomes more of the situation. Alves, was already on a yellow. Another yellow would have gave him a red, and hence he wouldn’t have had taken part in the game tomorrow.

      If you track back the original interview that Mou gave, he doesn’t say that the ref was harsh with the red. The reporter asks him: Your theory of playing with ten men against Barcelona was correct. He answered: Yupp, we finished the game with ten men. He then complained about some inconsistencies. All Phill Ball points out is that: If that was a foul, then Alves should have seen the second yellow and his marching orders. So there are inconsistencies, so Mou isn’t completely full of shi*t. Even though these inconsistencies are definitely not intentional, IMO.

      In the end, its hard to see eye to eye. For me, Phill Ball is the most objective among all the writers. But for cules, this comment will seem as a crime. Now the question is, who is being more objective here? Endless debate, I tell ya!

      I wanted to get this boards opinion on the Messi incident during the game. I know it was out of frustration, and every player is entitled of something similar, but what did you guys think of his shooting the ball at the crowd?

      At first i thought he probably didn’t mean it and was trying to control the ball. But then i looked at some videos and the ball was way beyond the line and the look on his face was: Damn, the only time i am a bad boy is against Real Madrid.

    5. Even though I am a die hard Barca fan, and yes no one here knows me because I usually don’t post 😛

      But, even though I am a die hard Barca fan, I need to agree to the second yellow, if the ref saw a foul and called it, Dani should have gotten a second yellow. So as long as the ref actually DID call it (and I think it was a silly decision from his part) then Dani should have seen red!

      What I think happened was that the ref actually felt pressure, and wasn’t 100% sure about the penalty, but gave it because he knew Madrid would be all over his ass if he hadn’t given it, but because he felt deep down inside that there is a good possibility that he is wrong, he just let it slip and didn’t also give a yellow to Dani

      I have to say also, that I think that it was wrong what he did, if he was 100% sure that it was a penalty then Dani should have gotten his second yellow, if he wasn’t then he should have never had called it!

    6. Once you throw a couple of comments, you realize Jose’s hot coco and cookies are really addicting! Welcome!

      And i agree. Either don’t make the call, or make it with assertiveness. Otherwise calls like these that are inconsistent with the norm will lead to the ref losing authority of the game in terms of assuredness.

    7. But, even though I am a die hard Barca fan, I need to agree to the second yellow, if the ref saw a foul and called it, Dani should have gotten a second yellow. So as long as the ref actually DID call it (and I think it was a silly decision from his part) then Dani should have seen red!

      I may be coming off as harsh, sorry, but once again-There’s no rule that says if it’s a foul in the box, it is automatically a yellow card. It doesn’t exist. It’s not there.

      Where has this fallacy come from?

    8. Sorry, Bassam, but that was not a clear scoring chance. People have scored from there before, but that was not a clear scoring chance. And there’s no rule that says every foul in the box is a yellow card. Why can’t people understand that?

      And if Mou and Phil want to talk about inconsistencies, let’s look at the penalty incidents. First of all, Marcelo was not fouled. That’s not a penalty. But since it was called a penalty, let’s compare it to the Villa incident in the first half. I know you feel Villa was always going down and that is probably true, but the contact between Iker and Villa was clear. Marcelo’s incident was not more of a penalty than Villa’s by any stretch of the imagination. Sorry, but it’s not. That’s inconsistency right there.

      Want more inconsistency? How about Adriano receiving a yellow card in the 8th minute for Khedira running into him? Fast forward to the second half when Pepe hacks down Afellay and the ref plays the advantage. Was there a card after the ball went out of play? Nope. And that was as a clear of a yellow card offense as you’ll see in the modern game. Inconsistency.

      For Phil to actually suggest that Mourinho has a point and there is some sort of lack of balances, puts him on the list of writers that have lost their credibility with me. i’ve seen little things from him here and there, but that’s ridiculous.

    9. I think you over exaggerative how meaningless the chance was. It was in the 6-yard box. Which is at a very close proximity to the goal. While it might have been hard to score from that angle, it sure wasn’t hard at all to cross the ball to the middle for an in coming Ozil or Ronaldo, no? Barcelona more than anyone else know how important it is for the fullback to go towards the corner of the keeper only to shift the ball across to the striker to score.

      When i talked about the discussion above, i didn’t say that the game had no other incidents. I was just referring to that moment aside from everything else. In other words, if you isolate that moment from the game and analyse it. The inconsistency to me wasn’t in reference to Albiol’s incident. For me, it was in reference to protocols used in football over and over. Look back at most calls made in the 6-yard box. Notice, i say 6-yard box, not penalty area. Almost always, a tackle in the 6-yard box from the LAST defender is met with a yellow. You watch enough football, and I am sure you have come across incidents like this.

      You say that: “And there’s no rule that says every foul in the box is a yellow card.”

      I agree, but as i stated above, it wasn’t just a foul in the box. It was in the 6-yard area, and it was the last defender. There is a rule that says that if the last defender commits a foul with no other defender in close proximity or on the same line as the fouled player, there is an automatic red card.

      For me, Phill Ball is one of the best writers out there. He tells it as it is. He is neither Marca and engulfed with hate for Barcelona nor is he Sid Lowe who is drooling over Barcelona.

      I would also suggest you read his book called Morbo, if you haven’t. One of the best, if not the best books about spanish football out there. He mixes history and football in a beautiful way. It gives you a feel of how things work in spain and how teams are integrated in a very objective way.

    10. Sid Lowe who is drooling over Barcelona?

      and I also seen so many cules accused him of being biased for EE…

      I think, he got attacked from both sides actually…

    11. I think Sid Lowe tries as much as he can to hate Madrid, and in an attempt at not seeming biased, says one thing to upset Barca fans. But he is a self proclaimed admirer of their work.

      Poor man, lives in spain and goes to all the press conferences, yet he relies on Marca and AS for all his writing and articles.

    12. One of the reasons cules were so pissed with the penalty, apart from the fact that it was a bad call is the fact that Alves actually went to ground. Why? Because most feel Marcelo wasn’t going to do anything from that position.

      There was no Ozil or Ronaldo to cross to. There was only Adebayor with two Barça players around him.

      I agree, but as i stated above, it wasn’t just a foul in the box. It was in the 6-yard area, and it was the last defender. There is a rule that says that if the last defender commits a foul with no other defender in close proximity or on the same line as the fouled player, there is an automatic red card.

      I give credit to your for arguing this point, but most everyone else is saying “Dani Alves got called for a foul so it’s a yellow.” That’s not how it works.

      And I would argue that there were Barça players in close proximity to Alves.

      Phil is a great writer, sure, but that comment, IMO, is stupid. If he wants to talk about inconsistency, let’s look at the entire match. Same applies to Mourinho and whoever else is talking about inconsistency.

      Sid Lowe drooling all over Barça? Since when? The same Sid Lowe that gets paid by your club to appear on your Extra Time show? Hmm.

      If by drooling over us, you mean he appreciates our football and what we have achieved, then fine. Most of you on the Real Offside think we are boring and what not, so I guess anytime someone praises the way we play, they are seen as biased.

    13. yes, his review after La Manita suggested he admirer Barcelona’s play very much…

      well, I think as long as you’re not an EE fan, Espanyol fan, Arsenal fan, Inter fan, or premface, people tend to have a soft feeling for my team… 😛

    14. @Jnice, regarding the last point, I discussed it with Linda a few posts ago. Mind you, some people believe that defensive football is the way to go. And in fact, defense is an art in itself just as much as possession football is and just as much as counter attacking is and direct football is. Beauty in the end is in the eye of the beholder.

      While i appreciate the type of football that Barcelona plays, I am not patient enough to see the ball being played back and forth in retracted areas. I enjoy the ball being thrown forward with speed and intensity, even if that means less possession. It is all based on preferences. My father for example, finds it a piece of genius for a team to apply the offside trap well. And he always complains about how defenders these days don’t measure up to those of 20 years ago.

      For me, Sid Lowe can admire Barcelona all he wants. As my fierce rival, i think what barca are doing is a great thing and i show my appreciation. In the end, Sid Lowe is the type that will go where the wind takes him. Right now the wind is blowing him next to Barcelona, so he hates on Madrid (mind you, i agree with a lot of the stuff he says). If i agree, that doesn’t mean that what he said is objective. Either affiliate yourself with a club, or strive for objectivity. Phill Ball is a Madrid Socio yet in his writing, he is extremely objective, save for one or two incidents.

    15. Forgot to close the italics.

      But he is a self proclaimed admirer of their work.

      That means he is biased towards Barça? You’re joking, right?

      We have plenty of admirers. Di Stefano for one, but would you consider him a Barça fan?

      People all over the world admire the way we play. That may seem strange to you, but that doesn’t automatically make them a Barça supporter. I’m sure if you guys were winning titles every season (and had people across the world praising your style of play), he would write plenty of articles about you guys. As it is, he already writes many articles about you lot.

      And if he relies on Marca and AS to write his articles, how does that make him a Barça supporter?

      You don’t have to answer those questions, I don’t really feel like getting into a debate over Sid Lowe.

    16. true this… we have too many admirers these days, not that I’m complain, I’m proud of it… 😀

      “Barcelona’s football was simply brilliant. Their superiority was there for the whole planet to see: the whites were cornered all game. Barcelona play football and dance. They treat the ball with adoration and respect, almost nurturing it. To see this team in action is a delight. Madrid are a side with no personality. They just run back and forth constantly, tiring themselves out. We saw clearly that their approach was not the right one. Barcelona were a lion, Madrid a mouse.”

      if people look at those sentences without knowing who said it, would people guess that came from a Madridista? not just a Madridista, but their biggest living legend…

    17. Another yellow would have gave him a red, and hence he wouldn’t have had taken part in the game tomorrow.

      I thought ONLY direct red card would suspend a player from Copa del rey final? like Albiol? I read it several times already…

      as for Messi, I haven’t seen the replay again, but from his reaction I think he was giggled and was like : “I don’t give a damn, okay?”

      I don’t like what he did, but he’s not an angel…
      I think he’s just frustrated and hate EE as much as we do… 😛

    18. As for Messi, it was a stupid and petulant thing to do. Disappointed he gave his haters more ammo. Not cool. That said, Pepe has some nerve to approach Messi and suggest he’s crazy. That’s crazy in and of itself.

    19. I dunno. I didn’t get a nasty vibe off of Pepe confronting Messi. And given Pepe’s history I think it’s all the more fitting for him to try to address stuff like this.

      It may very well just be me, but this season I’ve seen him more as a peacemaker than a firestarter.

    20. ive hear other popele talk about messi’s kick into the stands, when i watched it live it was my impresssion that he just kicked the ball high in the air, out of frustration cos he didnt get to it, but not menacingly or in a way that would hurt someone. did he kick it straight at the crowd like he was trying to hurt someone, or just up in the air? in 2-D (on the screen) i coulndt tell i guess

    21. Bassam- the reason why I was irked with the way Phil wrote it was that it seemed to imply not that that particular case was unfair, but that there is, in fact ‘a lack of balance in criteria applied by the refs to both teams’. Generally. Which is ridiculous.

      If he had even suggested that he did feel Alves’ crime was worthy of a penalty and thus if Alves’ crime had been worthy of a penalty it should also have been worthy of a card (the flip side of that being that if it wasn’t a card, it shouldn’t have been a penalty) and thus was a bad decision, that’s one thing. Saying that refs judge both teams differently is a silly statement.

      And since I love Phil’s articles and read them every Monday, and loved what I read of Morbo, I was disappointed to see him agreeing with an idea which he himself usually dismisses as silly conspiracy theories and mudslinging by Jose/AS/Marca/EMD/Sport/Inda/Whoever.

      I don’t see criticism of Barcelona, or saying a call should have gone against Barcelona, as a crime, that’s his opinion, right or wrong colored or uncolored. But suggesting refs apply different criteria overall to the sides, or that Barca get ref favors more than Real does, is silly, and he himself has said so many times before.

      I’m saying all this without blaugrana glasses. You tell me without the white shades Bassam.

    22. As for Messi kicking the ball into the stands, I hated it.

      As for Sid: Did you read Sid’s article after the pasillo at the Bernabeu where we lost 4-1? It was as scathing a read as I have ever read about Barcelona.

      ‘After giving Real a guard of honour, Barça followed up with a display so complete in its patheticness, so utterly gutless, that it summed up their season…

      Poor little Football Club Barcelona. It couldn’t have been more embarrassing if Mrs Barcelona had joined his mittens with a length of string, tied his sensible shoes in great big girly bows, ironed a nice crease into the front of his trousers and packed a My Little Pony lunch box with cling film-wrapped ponging peanut butter sandwiches, an apple because it’s good for you, a couple of cartons of Um Bongo and a note saying “Mummy Loves You”. If she’d wiped his tearful, snotty-nosed face clean with spit on a hankie and theatrically waved goodbye at the school gates. Right in front of the cool kids.’

      If he had written similarly about Madrid, wouldn’t you have taken that as evidence of a Madrid hatred?

      And his utter admiration for the early-2000s Madrid team and players is very clear. You should hear him talk about the likes of Zidane and Carlos.

      It begins:
      Story Highlights
      Roberto Carlos is arguably the greatest left back in soccer history
      Fernando Hierro was possibly the finest center back in Spanish history
      The original Ronaldo was a phenomenon even though he often declined to train’

      The guy is no Madrid hater and no Barca fan.

    23. Read the comment above this one. (can’t delete it because there are responses to it.)

    24. Sorry double post. The second one without the italics. Kari could you approve the post with the italics and delete the one without?

    25. Also, not saying he is pro-Madrid either. Just that he’s not anti-Madrid, or pro-Barca.

    26. Look what i wrote to Jnice. Sid Lowe goes where the wind is blowing best and where the crop is growing the fastest.

    27. You mean, he praises the team that is playing well at the time?

      I don’t see how that is going where the wind blows best. If it were a fan switching clubs to whichever one is doing well at the time, that’s one thing. A neutral saying one club isn’t doing good when it’s not doing good and praising another club when they are doing good is just doing their job.

      Personally I get the impression that Sid doesn’t like Barcelona OR Madrid. He seems to give off the feeling, even when acknowledging our brilliance or Madrid’s improvement or whatever, that both the Big Two are slightly absurd circuses that are sidelining every other Spanish side. Like how in most of his weekly columns he usually goes ‘Barcelona and Real Madrid both won. Next!‘ and then goes on to the rest of the stuff that happened this week.

    28. Mind you, i don’t believe the conspiracy theories. Not one bit. The same way, unlike fans of both sides, i don’t jump in dismay when i read this rumor or the other. From Pique chanting Catalan phrases at our players to Pepe spitting on someone. I even don’t read interviews, because i don’t trust them. One side says Ozil said we were going to win with our eyes closed while the other side says VV said we are a team with no history. When the situation for the media in spain is this way, you find it hard to take them seriously.

      As for what Phill Ball said, and for the part that i argued, its that there should have been another yellow. I think Phil should have left his following statement at: Makes you wonder how refs are inconsistent in their calls. Why did he mention Mou and the conspiracy theories? And why me and you have taken them out so vigilantly? Well, because there is a lot of yellow journalism and mis use of power that goes on in the media. IMO, while Mou nags a lot, there is a big sum of what happens because of the media. Asking tricky and faulty questions and mis interpreting words and phrasing them differently leads to 90% of the news.

      For Phil Ball, who watches the press conferences, not reads the translation, the issue is not as bad as me and you take it. In the media, you see dungeon. What they don’t show you is the majestic castle thats above it. In reality, Mourinho has been FULL of praise for Pep. Even when the question is: Pep has a better style than you, what do you think of that? His answer is always praise. But the press likes to play with an ego centric guy, and hence what we see in the media.

      What does this have to do with anything? Well, maybe to Phil Ball the situation isn’t as bad as it seems, and hence why a comment like that didn’t seem too extreme. Maybe he believes that there was in fact a double standard in what happened. In the end, for me, one comment does not erase 20 years of brilliance. In the end, we are all human, and we are all allowed to make a mistake every once in a while. It’s human nature.

      Once again, I’m sorry for the long rambles. I know it makes it hard to read my point =/

    29. If by 20 years of brilliance you mean Phil and his writing, I agree there. I’m still going to keep on reading his writing and he remains one of my favorite writers on football.

      He does know, writing for Soccernet and with his regular mentions of the silly antics of the media as well as his own dislike of Mourinho’s whining (or whichever more diplomatic term you prefer to use for his complaining about everything being against them somehow), that suggesting Mourinho’s own ‘Barcelona control everything outside of the match, refs favor them, we always end up playing with 10 men against them, etc etc’ theories are in fact true is not particularly great.

      That said, I just see it as a writer letting emotion get to them. It doesn’t make them any worse as a writer. It’s forgivable. It happens to everyone, even, especially in a rather emotionally charged game such as a Clasico with tension and a close result. The fact that Phil is as objective as he has been in more than a year of me reading his articles is really praiseworthy.

      The reason I was disappointed was specifically because of the so high standards of writing and objectiveness I had come to expect from Phil Ball, actually. I wouldn’t have found it anything other than slightly irritating if the typical BritPress rags or the like had said much worse, even.

  7. @KARI
    that was exactly my thought on the cule mentslity.
    lock down mode until may 3.

  8. Well, another round begins. I hope that teams will get out to play tonight and i think they will. So it will be fun.

    As for Phil Ball, he is a good writer but no fan of Barca. And i have been reading him for upwards of 4 years. He is not too much but still slightly biased towards Madrid.

    And as for Alves, if it was a foul, it should have been a yellow.

  9. Last words on this issue:

    Foul in the box does not automatically mean yellow card. This law does not exist.

    1. There are countless examples of this as well–when Arsenal gave away that ridiculous penalty after 100 minutes, Eboue had received a yellow about a minute ago for another foul, but did *not* get one for the foul in the penalty box. Why? Probably because Leiva didn’t have a clear goal-scoring opportunity.

    1. This article is fine it actually has some points that I would have written myself as well. Not to mention that I think that Pep might say some of this stuff to his players as well. If madr*d plays again this way we will only win if we accept the way they played, see their streghts and raise our game in order to get the win and lift the cup…:)


  10. As for Barca B. 8 points behind Betis and Rayo Vallecano who are joint first, and a single point behind Celta Vigo who are third. 8 games left to play. Can they do the impossible?

    As for highest ever finishes by a B team. In the 83/84 season Castilla finished first and Bilbao Athletic (Bilbao B) finished second. In 98/99 Atletico Madrid B finished second. That’s all, I’ve seen, from high-ranked Segunda finishes by B teams.

    Rather interesting bit of info about EE’s reserve team:

    ‘As Castilla CF the team enjoyed something of a golden age. During this era, with a team that included Agustín, Gallego and Pineda, Castilla CF reached the final of the 1979-80 Copa del Rey. During their cup run they beat four Primera División teams including Hércules CF, Athletic Bilbao, Real Sociedad and Sporting de Gijón. The latter two eventually finished second and third in the Primera División. In the final they played Real Madrid but lost 6-1. However because Real also won La Liga, Castilla CF qualified for the European Cup Winners Cup. Despite beating West Ham United 3-1 in the opening game at the Bernabéu, they lost the return 5-1 after extra time and went out in the first round. Castilla CF reached the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey on three further occasions in 1984, 1986 and 1988.’

    Also, EE Castilla are currently in a promotion play-off spot according to Wikipedia, so they might end up getting promoted to the Segunda Division. In which case, how fascinating would it be to be having B-team clasicos as well as A-team clasicos every season?

  11. Hi Guys,
    dis being my 1st post, I hv 2 tell all da writers n posters here dt dey r all really entertaining… dis blog hs become my “go to” page b4 everyday… I wander around a million footy sites around da internet, bt dis site stands out…thanks all !!!

    Could ne1 plz share da link or such with Pep’s and Mou’s press conf. in English?

    P.S. I m glad dt dere cudnt hv been a more opportune time 4 me 2 register n post my 1st on dis blog…
    Also sorry if “online chat like” words r disallowed in dis area… will discontinue if told, else ‘ll continue…

    1. They’re not disallowed but if you want to thank the writers for their work, you can do so by not writing in “online chat like” words. Thanks 🙂

    2. Oh wait this was supposed to be a reply to missingpage’s post about the praise-worthy Jnice (and Bassam of course) but since Neel shares a similar message… 🙂

    3. I am sorry if I sounded rude, never ever mean to, however, the fact that I had two responses to my post script and none to my actual query suggests likewise.
      Anyways only thing that matters is, tonight FCB is lifting the first of three cups out of EE’s sight…cheers !!!

    4. Cheers, Neel, and welcome.

      Unfortunately we don’t usually get links to Mou or Pep’s press conferences in English, but you can usually find excerpts from Pep’s on the official club site or on barcastuff’s twitter.

  12. I must say that I’m becoming a huge fan of Jnice after reading his views on Dani’s yellow card issue and his straightforward replies on Bassam… 🙂

    Never fear Jnice is here!

    1. hehe…It’s greek 🙂
      And its not my blog really, it is created by some guys and gals from the Penya Barcelonista D’Atenas,a Penya of which I’m a proud member 🙂

  13. have to break my lockdown mode.
    so when somebody praises a club for the style that mean he is drooling gor that club?awesome insight.

    agreed on different style.rm of zidane played that way.wonderful to watch.

    pb is many things.but a professional should be less emotional.

    when u talk bout being objective u should talk bout the whole game,not in a particular moment which favours u.

    It is towards bassam

  14. Thank u,jnasty. this blog is wonderful but sometimes i feel it is too much politically correct.i mean this blog space.
    but sometimes u have to call a hammer a hammer.
    no disrepct to u bassam.




      *cules hug*

    2. We’re all gonna be just fine. Love your team, trust your coach, pray like mad 🙂

    3. Right! Right. We’ve got world-class players in every position, amazing teamwork, an amazing coach, and as Kari and others have pointed out we should be well-rested for this! There’s no reason to pa- WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE

  16. I had a dream a few days ago that I was in the stadium and EE beat us in the World Cup semi-final. Yeah you read that right, World Cup semi-final. I think the score was 3-2 but I don’t actually really remember the score clearly.

    1. I thought it was Afellay too but It was way too early for us to put Afellay avatars.

      I want answers too, Are they gone for good ?

  17. Late, but for the record…

    Any talks about comparing RM red card to Alves Vs Marcelo hold no water. not a tinny drop of dew on a bee wing (as if that make sense).

    Villa had a scoring Opportunity, Marcelo didnt (yes some goals were scored from that spot, so as from the middle of the field – thats not an argument).

    Alves went for the ball. Late tackle? Debatable… RM defender committed three penalties in one without having a clue were the ball was, while trying to tie Villa down at any cost.

    That was not a penalty in the first place (Marcelo) unlike Casillas foul in the first half, so to speak.

    The new trend is that Barca get the harsh treatment from the ref and the other team complain. It happened against Arsenal (YES I said it), RM, and many more.

    But we keep on walking…

    1. Ramzi wrote ….”The new trend is that Barca get the harsh treatment from the ref and the other team complain. It happened against Arsenal (YES I said it), RM, and many more.

      But we keep on walking…”

      Well said Ramzi 🙂

    2. The new trend is that Barca get the harsh treatment from the ref and the other team complain. It happened against Arsenal (YES I said it), RM, and many more.


      I honestly think Wenger and Mou’s idea to make it’s the world against us, boys! perception is starting to get into their fans heads…

    3. Ramzi is the guy you need to be a fan of, not me. 🙂

      When you want somebody to shutdown an argument, look no further than Ramzi.

      Spot on, sir.

  18. from Barcastuff:

    Iniesta can play the semi-finals of the CL next week. UEFA won’t suspend him for another game after picking up a yellow vs Shakhtar

    phhewwww, thats assuring for the future, but I want to ask why and how this attempt to suspend Iniesta after a situation that happen three weeks ago come about right now and end up resorting in an appeal from barca?

  19. Oh and was it Sid Lowe who used to work for RM TV and predict them to win the title every year?

    Sid is a Madrid fan. He try to cover it in his articles but it show up in his tweets (where he doesnt take as much time painting his bias with objectivity brush). Wait till RM get the edge over Barca, then compare his articles then, to his articles now.

    1. Great! Now I can go back to stressing about tonight. Wish it was over already. I think i’m gonna pass out from nervousness if that’s possible. I can’t eat, sleep or do anything right now.

  20. Why does everyone think that the Copa is not important?.We all want our boys to win treble and establish themselves as the world’s best team(currently and do not compare with the past teams).And to win the treble we need Copa too.We almost have La Liga and winning Copa takes our trophy count to quadraple.champions league is hard and according to the hit Crackovia song,we’ll sweat for it.
    @BarcaGirl_Indo’s first comment on this post,How do you know the movie?.It’s an Indian movie.Are you an Indian?

    1. I DO think Copa is important, especially our opponent is EE… for our team’s mentality, and for the treble…

      no, I’m not… I’m Indonesian… 😀
      but there’s alot of famous Hindi songs and movies here… like Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, My Name Is Khaan, 3 Idiots, etc…
      from wiki : 3 Idiots is the second highest-grossing Indian film in overseas markets after My Name is Khan.

      are you Indian? if you’re Indian, than watch this video, this police officer becomes a new millionaire in just 2 weeks for singing Chaiyya Chaiyya… all day long, the local channels discussed him, it’s crazy…

    2. Yes,I’m an Indian.I know that Indian movies are very popular but did’nt know that even those who dont know the language also like to watch.But in India there are various movie industries.There are approx. 30-35 movie industries in the country.
      And about that video,I’ve seen it long ago in a local TV channel.You know,India has a lot of crazy incidents like this.;)
      Unfortunately,other than movies and cricket there’s nothing which interests us.And that includes Barca and I dont have any Cule companion tsk….tsk…..*tears roll down*

    3. lol, you’ve seen it? crazy… 😆

      hey dear, you have us!
      not in everyday life, 🙁 but at least you have someone to talk through internet… 😀

      most of my cules friend, I found from the internet…
      but I’m lucky to have a cule dad and a cule best friend…

    4. BarcaGirl_Indo: thanks for the link – Chaiyya Chaiyya is one of my favourite Hindi songs, and that policeman is really funny! 🙂

    5. you’re welcome! it’s unbloodylievable that 1 video posted by his friend on youtube can change his life completely…

      he is a new millionaire!

    6. She’s Indonesian, I’m Maldivian (and commented on her comment about the movie on the previous post which got Hectored), but Indian movies have a rather wide reach. Especially in Asia, South and SE Asia namely. Apparently some European countries also are big on them I hear but I don’t know.

  21. I’m going to object to a couple of things here:

    There is no special set of rules or unwritten code that separates the 6 yard box from the 18 yard box. Fouls in the 6 have as much merit as one in the 18. If the referee deems – based on any number of reasons – that the foul deserved a yellow, OK then. However, if one is to argue that the penalty against Alves is worthy of a yellow card – not only do i question the absence of a yellow card to Iker Casillas, but i shudder to think how Villa’s similar penalty claim is not awarded. If one is to argue on hypotheticals, ants can move elephants and if you concentrate enough you might be able to score from Marcelo’s position or Villa’s position. Put simply, there is no difference – only the inconsistency of the official.

    And on to the writers: Sid Lowe, bless him, gets haraunged as being a Barcelona sympathiser, a Real Madrid sympathiser and on rare occasions, an Atletico sympathiser (as long as the topic in question is not Jesus-Gil related). It’s always odd to read comments about how he supports X big team over Y big team, but no evidence comes – just mentions of past tendencies or what have you. This has even become a big problem in his blog. He’s an Oviedo fan – that’s about it. The articles he writes are editorials based on his perspective, but too many get hung up on the perspective part and think that proper judgement can’t occur because of it. Seriously, Sid is anything but a this or that fan. His scope includes Real Madrid pieces, Barcelona pieces and most interestingly the other La Liga pieces. The fact that some on both sides accuse him of some sort of treason is probably the best indicator of his quality journalism and absence of personal sympathy to one or the other.

    As for Phil Ball, some of his comments were a bit surprising and to an extent i think he got the overall match coverage a bit twisted. Phil is an excellent reader of socioculture aspects related to football and transmits it into a good narrative, always. However, i’ve disagreed with his match judgements time before, not for getting it wrong, but for taking a peculiar view point – the kind that you’d sense, from reading his work, would be the opposite choice for him. But, it’s of little importance because the match he was referring to was clearly typified by partisanship. Just look at the scoreline and both team’s cautious interest in waiting for the other team to basically throw the first violent punch in order to react effectively and win. I mean everyone is still arguing about who came out the winner, but for most it’s better than conceding the possibility that well, both teams took their share of highs and lows.

    Except for the La Liga title, which well…Apparently Preciado won.

  22. Isaiah: clicking the Desso Grandmaster link doesn’t fill me with confidence when I read that both ManU and Wembley have the same turf. Damn.

    Let’s hope that our boys get through to meet Schalke in the UEFA final! 🙂

  23. from OptaJose : 8 – Jose Mourinho has won eight of the nine major cup finals for which he has been coach (exception : Taça de Portugal 2004). Mastermind


  24. There is a whole discussion up there I have no time to read and so many comments I have no time to reply to! 🙁 When do you guys sleep!? 😀

    What I meant about Phil Ball are two things: 1) there was inconsistency from the ref but only in favour of us. Ball makes it out as if there was something grossly and obviously unfair, but Albiol’s red card offense was a red card offense. Period. Strangle hold when Villa was through on goal. Clear as day. Marcelo’s wasn’t as clear and the withholding of the yellow shows the ref being unsure of it being a penalty in the first place. If he was going to call the penalty, should Alves have been booked? Yes, (IMO, it wasn’t a penalty, but that’s neither here nor there…in regards to what I’m trying to say) considering the nature of his yellows (Adriano’s harsh yellow in the 8th min, anyone?) so there is/was a problem with the ref, but again, it wasn’t as if it was only in our favour like Ball is making it out to be.

    2) If he wants to point out the problem with the ref in regards to decisions, he has to include the Villa non-penalty, as well as other incidents to keep it objective. That’s basic if you’re going to say something like, ” You begin to see Mourinho’s point about a lack of balance in the criteria applied by referees to the two teams”. Begin to see what? That’s one example! You gotta back that up! Objectivity means also talking about other incidents, no? But those other incidents don’t agree with what he’s trying to say and that maybe, maybe, we were on the wrong end of most of his decisions? I dunno, but as a journalist, if you’re gonna claim neutrality, back it up.

    I know Phil Ball is/was usually objective, which makes this comment surprising. He seems to have taken the BritPress route and say this is a Mourinho masterclass. When I said I don’t have a problem with him being a contrarian, it means I don’t mind if he’s trying to take the opposite route and lean in agreeance with the Madrid point of view.

    Also, I don’t want to come off as if I’m feeling all hard done by or that I’m angry and have my cule panties in a twist. I’m just saying that in a basic debate, you can’t use one example to justify a view. Or maybe it’s because I’ve been writing exams and am in full-on “Prove This!” mode.

    Oh and incredible work at EE Offside! I almost dropped my cup when I saw a post not by you (“There are other bloggers not named Bassam on the EE Offside?!”) 😀 But seriously, great, great job! Don’t wear yourself out though. One 10,000 word post is as good as 4 2500 word one!

    1. No, I can’t. If you’re able to, that’d be great! “Manita making blitzen to the rescue! Everyone make manita drinks” would be the headline if you do it! 😛

    2. I can’t, sorry. My internet has a habit of losing its connection at the most inappropriate times. Hence why I often have trouble logging in to the LB in the first place. 🙁

      (Like just now when I tried to respond to your comment, dang!)

    3. Ahh, that’s happened to me before when I ran the LB (the Arsenal away one). Your leaving the LB doesn’t shut it down (and you can come back easily because you’re the one who’s running it)

      But it’s alright if you’re still unsure. I’ll just ask below.

    4. We do have 3 other writers on the site. Corey, who started the site, and who has extensive knowledge about spanish teams like no other, is on vacay for the past 3 months. He is doing behind the scenes work and podcasts with Isiah.

      Kaushik is a new member (around 3 months ago) and he is a great writer. I encourage you to go read his piece on the history between Real Madrid and Barcelona. Very objective article.

      We also have Jordan who runs the live blogs and provides the occasional review goodness.

      And there is me, but i don’t need no introduction here, no?

      As for posts, I’m waiting for May 4th to get some rest! I’ve been cutting down my sleep about 2 or 3 hours to put up posts! I counted them, between interviews and posts, 9 in 5 days. Not fun at all!

  25. okay, I’m off to bed…
    it’s 10.30 PM local time…

    the game will be started at 03.30 AM in my place…

    Tots Units Fem Força… VISCA EL BARÇA!!!

  26. Does anyone want to volunteer and run the LiveBlog? Admins will be in straight jackets and unable to use their hands, let alone mod a LB.

    You can respond here, or go to the contact page and send a comment from there.

    1. I could do it as an absolute last-ditch last resort if no one else volunteers, but it’s such an important game I would be really nervous about messing it up. I have no idea how it works anyway.

      Someone else step up so we can have a quality LiveBlog, OK? 😛

    2. 🙁

      You haven’t even been given the directions yet on how to run the LiveBlog and you’re already drunk with power? Really?

    3. Oh I have the directions. And I’m not drunk yet. I can’t start on the tequila till the game starts. 😀

    4. 3 Cheers for Blitzen!!!! Workin’, so cant be doing a liveblog. Ill check in from time to time though.

    1. Haha yes I was so trying to comment the same right after my original comment but my internet went down. Great minds…

  27. Missingpage, I couldn’t understand a word of your blog. It’s all Greek to me. 😉

    1. outerspacedout, it wasn’t even me who made that joke it was nzm 🙂

      I think the nerves for the final are starting to get to you as well my friend ;p


  28. says Mascherano as CB since Puyol isn’t fit 🙁

    This news doesn’t calm my nerves down…

    1. It depends, if Adebayor starts and pique has a sh*t game due to puyols absence then we are in trouble.
      But anyone of Benz or Higuain starting for EE would be good for Smach IMO.

      And dont u guys find it funny all the hassle the EE and us had to go through with regards to coming to an agreement about watering the pitch in Valencia? I mean thats just laughable to me.

      Its almost as if having a well watered pitch is gonna give us some sort of Psychological advantage ahead of the game or smth.

      If anything, doesnt a fast pitch facilitate lightning counter attacks that they do so well just as much as tiki taka?

    1. Frozen pictures like that can tell u the truth or make u draw stupid conclusions. But since its Pepe we are talking about, majority already have their conclusions.
      The pic is irrelevant as far as that is concerned.

  29. Regarding Phil Ball: There is perspective and bias. Journalists should have the former, but not the latter. Ball’s assertions based on his knowledge and years in the game allow him to evaluate a situation, and apply his perspective to it. People calling BS on said perspective because of the team that they love, is bias.


    Are there PKs that don’t get awarded yellow cards? Yep. And they’re usually dubious ones, such as Alves’ was.

    Here’s some perspective for ya: Players should decide the match. For the same reason that the ref in ’07 didn’t call a PK when Diarra bowled over Ronaldinho in the box, that ref shouldn’t have called one either. Let the players decide the match in all except the most egregious (strangulation/tackling) cases.

    Now, here’s the bias: Would I have felt Marcelo earned a PK if I weren’t a cule? Good question. I didn’t think that Villa earned one in his incident with Casillas, so even I’m confused on that one.

    Perspective can’t be right or wrong. It just is, and you can agree or disagree with it.

    As I said in the review, when a ref has a crap match, it’s usually against both sides. So again, identifying the direction in which the ref was leaning will depend on bias. A crap ref’s efforts can’t even be said to favor the attacking team, which will have more incidents requiring a ref’s intervention, because a defending team will have as many if not more incidents that will require a judgment call.

    That match is over. There is one today. It must be noted, one that I don’t care a whole lot about. I’d rather they drop a manita on us today while we advance in the Champions League, than the reverse. But that’s how I roll. The Copa is cute when you’re laying claim to being the “bestest ever, cuz we won everything!” But it’s a third-tier objective, and one that, given the political leanings of Catalunya, I’m surprised that Barca even participates in. I can see us taking part in the Copa Catalunya, but foreswearing the King’s Cup as a point of national pride.

  30. Well, I am not sure if one word is picked on from my post and the others isn’t noticed. But here is another try. I said Sid Lowe is drooling over Barcelona. And i don’t take that back. And yes, ATM, he is biased towards Barcelona. Something i also don’t take back. But, after i said all that, i clearly said: Sid Lowe is a writer that goes where the wind is blowing best and the crop is growing fastest. He was full of praise for Real Madrid when we were in our glory days and he hated on Barcelona. And right now, its the opposite. And thats why i don’t pay much attention to him. While it’s not wrong to be with the winning team, i believe a lot of the praise that he gave the Pasillo side was not objective praise, similar to the one i see about Barcelona.

    As for Phil Ball. Again, he never said that Albiol’s red wasn’t a red. He said in the sense that Albiol got red for a last defender tackle, and since the referee judged the Marcelo penalty to be a penalty (he never, and neither did i, argue if that was a penalty or not), and since Alves was the last defender, regardless of the severity of the foul, it deserved a yellow.

    Look at the first footage that shows you the view from VV side. Was it that endless of a ball? It was at an angle that many many goals have been scored from. Right on the edge of the 6-yard box. If that is not a goal scoring chance, then what is? Marcelo scored a goal from a much tighter angle against Espanyol. And i can remember many Barcelona goals coming from that position as well. (no time to bring up youtube videos, i trust you guys have all the goals memorized though).

    I will say three things before i leave. Assertive replies and comments are all fine and dandy, but they do limit discussion. Neither will “laying the hammer” make anyone change their mind. Just because you say: this this and this. End of story… Doesn’t make one person correct or the other wrong. It just gives out a vibe that you are not willing to accept anything said by the other person. It also gives out a vibe that you are upset. This brings me to my second point.

    If i have made anyone upset by my comments, or my presence here, i do apologize.

    Finally, my third point: For the CDR game today, may the best team win! (is good luck really the word that has to be said?). I will end it with, be safe! (although it sounds awkward!)

    1. Thanks Bassam! As I (and I’m sure most other people) feel like the semi-finals coming up hold more weight than the match tonight (however important it may be), safety is my primary concern to! Here’s to hoping both teams make it out with no injures, and that it’s an entertaining match.

    2. Had Marcelo stayed on his feet after Alves nudged the ball away, he would have had to deal with the trailing players, so no, I wouldn’t consider it as clear a chance as you say. But full respect to how you present your arguments, especially on a rival’s site, Bassam!

    3. Bassam you are a class act and I’m always happy to see you post here.

      I’d respond by agreeing with ‘may the best team win’ but it seems out-of-step to do anything other than bellow “BRING IT ON” or wail “WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!”

    1. If Messi and Xavi are included the team goes from being B team to A+. Put Iniesta in the mix, and we have a championship winning team. Hope to see some Xaviniesta with Messi mixed in.

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