Evil Empire 0, Barca 2, aka “A shambolic El Clasic buoyed by a little genius”

This is what the world is going to remember of this, the tercera El Clasic, one that was on display in a significantly larger number of homes, thanks to the reach of Fox’s FX cable channel in the U.S., and other affiliates abroad.

This was an opportunity for two great sides to show what La Liga is made of, how the beautiful game should be played.

Instead, we got crap. Sorry, but it was crap. As a cule I am pleased that we won, and thrilled to death that we won on two immense goals. As a devotee of the game, one who cries with its downs and exults with its great moments, one who believes that there is no better sport in the world, as one who tries to be as neutral as possible in his evaluative template, this was a disgusting display by two teams that are so much better than what we got.

Don’t worry. If you didn’t like this part, you ain’t gonna like the rest of this review, either.

This is the rare match that I am reviewing after only one watching. For that, I blame the necessity of beauty sleep, as futile a task as it might be for me. Thankfully, there really isn’t much of a match to review. It goes like this: Neither team really wanted to play football, and both seemed comfortable taking a 0-0 to the Camp Nou. They defended, we played keep-away. Then two moments of individual brilliance, of astonishing football, shone through on a night of ugliness, like rainbows after a thunderstorm from hell.

The end.

The buildup was intense, and as calculated as everything about this tense encounter. Mourinho called out Guardiola. Guardiola responded with an astonishing display of cold-hearted putting the smack down that some say was a coach losing his cookies while others, who know the man and his actions better, rightly said that it was him drawing a line in the sand for his players, saying “Right here, right NOW, we are done taking crap from this club and its coach.”

It’s worth noting that Keita was the first player to get stuck in, bright and early, and it only went downhill from there. Guardiola rolled out with his best available lineup of Valdes, Alves, Mascherano, Pique, Puyol, Keita, Busquets, Xavi, Pedro, Messi, Villa, and right from the start it was clear how it was going to be. EE wasted a half of football. Flat-out wasted it in a defensive display that for this observer, is akin to buying a Ferrari and letting it idle in the driveway. As Thong Boy said (in a proper translation) “I don’t like to play this way but I do what I am asked.”

In other words, it was a tactic. Absorb pressure, play for the 0-0 and try to win it in the Camp Nou. This is a legitimate tactic in Champions League or any other tournament in which a two-legged tie decides who advances. And it would have been fine had the other club been some nobody side who were lucky to be there. But this was a team who spent hundreds of millions of Euros on the likes of TB, Di Maria, Ozil, Khedira, Pepe, Kaka, etc, etc, and let the Ferrari idle in the driveway.

They had a chance to go at us with our makeshift back line, on a team that was without ANY left backs. Why not gain possession and turn TB loose against Puyol, instead of letting us have the ball almost all the time, which minimized our weakness, which is defensive frailty? Good question. Both clubs had key players absent, Iniesta for us and Carvalho for them. Strangely enough, our absence might actually have worked out, as Keita was a wrecking ball in the center. It’s hard not to watch Ramos get owned by Messi, and wonder what Carvalho would have done differently.

Yes we tried to play football, when we weren’t playacting like schoolchildren on the playground. Pedro went down, clutching his face when he simply rubbed shoulders with Arbeloa. Busquets was particularly shameful as well with his antic and Alves might have been the worst of the lot, because his acting as though he’d been shot when he was barely touched by Pepe and earning this player a straight red card, has given the world even more ammunition against us and the Liga. Because it was a red-cardable foul even without the frosting on the cake.

Is this really the best that these two sides have to offer?

Yes, we know the subtext, the hatred, the Mourinho vs Guardiola face-off, the psychological wars that were being fought on and off the pitch. And you could legitimately be enthralled by them:

–Messi vs their entire defense
–Xavi vs their entire midfield
–Offense vs defense
–Passing vs a lightning counter-attack

This match was balanced on a bitter, brutal knife’s edge. I was actually trembling as I watched. And just when I would really start to get into it, somebody would dive, and roll around and act stupid. In the most telling episode Pepe was going for the ball, and went in at Alves with his studs up. And let me repeat that he was going for the ball. It would have been one thing had he come sliding in with studs flashing, sliding through after Alves had sent the ball away. But he didn’t. He went for the ball just like Alves did. Not the player, the ball. He missed, nicked Alves, who proceeded to act as if his leg would have to be amputated. Pepe received a straight red. Whether this was for an accumulation of offenses and the Alves nick was the last straw, or a justly earned decision will depend on what side of the aisle you sit. For me, the fact that Alves was stretchered off and trying to get off the stretcher so that he could get right back into the match, just didn’t sit well with me, just as Busquets’ game of peek-a-boo after his shameful playacting against Inter didn’t either. And such episodes never, ever will. We’re better than that.

Was the Pepe incident a red card? Yes, almost certainly. Hell, he should have gotten a red for being stupid enough to make that foul when Alves doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of doing anything with that ball except passing it to another defender. But. High leg, studs up at pace, that call is going to get made. Might it have been a yellow had the Copa not brought attention to their tactics in that match, had Pepe not been doing his bull in a china shop impersonation? Good question.

Do teams use incidents such as those to call attention to an opponent’s behavior? Sure. But they were actually playing straight up this match, defensive, physical football that was determined to keep us from scoring first, and if they could score, so much the better, but not really necessary. So there was nothing to call attention to.

For me, squarely on the cule side, I still have to admit that Pepe was hard done by, even as the foul was a red cardable offense. Make no mistake about it, this call changed the match. They went from having a fast, agile, physical defender in midfield who wasn’t going to allow Messi to have a moment of space, to having to figure out how to control us with 10 men. Yes, they did it in El Clasic No. 1, but we didn’t have to win that match, and we knew it. This time, with tensions ratcheted to the boiling point, things were going to get ugly, and did.

–Ramos laid a stupid, stupid foul on Messi to earn a yellow card and a suspension for the Camp Nou leg.
–There was a scuffle in the tunnel, for which Pinto earned a red card. Let’s hope Valdes doesn’t pick up a knock.
–Mourinho earned a seat in the stands for his bitter, apparently over-the-line commentary to the fourth official.
–Football suffered for it.

The game should have been remembered for this:

Instead it will be remembered by many for bickering, squabbling and two great teams acting, for too much of the time, like idiots.

No, the players aren’t supposed to play matches for posterity, it must be said. They play them to win. Mourinho chose the strategy that he chose, and it was ultimately a stupid one for so many reasons, not least of which that it let the club most likely to score have the ball for almost 80% of the time, attempting 788 passes and completing 713 of them. Think about that for a second. That’s an Almeria-like statistic, and a sign of a team that rolled out to play defense and to try to nick a goal off the counter, as it did in the Copa del Reig final. They attempted 263 passes, with 179 of them being successful.

Is Mourinho proud of that statistic? Good question. Perhaps his post-match rant was to get people talking about that, rather than a cynical, wrong-headed tactic that might have cost his expensively assembled team an opportunity to move into the Champions League final. They got physical with us, and for a change, we got physical with them. Di Maria came shimmying into our half, and Mascherano just put him on his butt. This was the kind of hard-edged, take-no-prisoners football that people were expecting from this tie, and referee Wolfgang Stark was right to not call anything on that one.

But he lost control of the match, as both sides surrounded him after almost every hard foul, waving hands in the “Give him a card” gesture, that was silly and unbecoming. Yes, I am naive in wanting the two sides to go at it like gladiators, and may the best one win. I don’t want any victory of ours, particularly one as sweet as this one, to be tainted in any way. But once again, people will say that they were cheated, that we were favored by the ref. History will forget that we had 22 fouls called on us, to their 18. It will come down to a wrong-headed red card, instead of what it should come down to, which is a great player deciding, like his coach, that enough was enough.

In a goal-mouth scramble created off a lovely passing sequence, Pedro twisting his knee may have been the best thing to happen to this match. When Guardiola substituted in Ibrahim Afellay, aka 3M, he knew exactly what he was doing. This was a fast, direct player who was good with the ball at his feet, could play on either side of the pitch, and liked to take the corner and throw in a cross. And it didn’t take long for him to have an effect, as he stood Marcelo up then dive-bombed for the end line, gaining just enough space to pop in a perfect cross for Messi, who took it and spanked it between the legs of a helpless Casillas.

It’s moments such as this one that tactics and pre-match discussions are seen for the irrelevancies that they are, because players do what they do, and great players do what they do at career-defining moments. “What’s the point of Afellay crossing, when our midgets can’t get to them,” many said during the pre-match buildup. But that was the point, an amazing player, the shortest one on the pitch, doing what he had to do to come up as the tallest. There isn’t a lot to even describe with the goal, as it was an interplay, two great plays, between two players.

At 1-0 with them down a man, the tie wasn’t over. A 1-0 result rolling into the Camp Nou is doable. A counter or two and voila, they’re right there. And then came a moment for the ages, when Messi took the ball in midfield, and proceeded to make a run that wounds its way around and through five of their players, before culminating in an oh, so delicate side-footed stab that winnowed its way into goal.

Casillas charged out to stop the direct shot, and his defenders seemed to have all of the angles covered except for the one, most unlikely one. Problem is that unlikely doesn’t mean impossible. Great players make a living out of doing the unlikely, and Messi’s astounding diagonal shot oozed into the goal for the 0-2 lead that might have killed this tie. One precious away goal against none for the opponent is a great result. Two away goals to none for the opponent is a soul-crusher.

Would that goal have happened with Pepe on the pitch? Hard to say, but probably not. Pepe would have just put Messi on his butt and let the chips fall where they may. Another example for people to call out the red card decision as one that unfairly influenced the match. Are they justified in doing so? Maybe yes, maybe no. Who knows? What I do know is this: That was an astounding goal, called by Sid Lowe one of the best that he’s ever seen in Champions League competition. I haven’t seen as many as he has, so I have to take his word for it.

But it was indeed a stunner.

"You carried us, let me carry you for a bit, sir!"

And I don’t mean to sound as if I believe that Messi’s performance was tainted by this match. Whatever stupidity occurred on the pitch, and there was plenty of it to go around, those two remarkable goals from a remarkable player can stand on their own. But I do think that this match, this occasion deserved better.

Mourinho says that the tie is over. Guardiola says that it still has 90 minutes to go. In less than a week, we will see which coach is right. In the meantime, I will salve my disgust with watching those two glorious, gorgeous goals in replay, as examples of what this game should be, and so often is.

Here’s another example, courtesy of the brilliant, brilliant Allas, whose YouTube compilations do every cule and Barca devotee an immense service:

Team: 9. A few loose moments, but played as a unit and stood strong, with the movement and runs that opened up space, even before they went down a man, particularly for Villa.

Guardiola: 10. He had his side ready to play, and his outburst yesterday was perfectly timed. How often do we have more fouls than an opponent, a stat that might be overlooked in the post-match rancor. We wanted this one. Bad. His post-match comments after Mourinho’s rant were …. well …. none. Because he’d already done his damage with press conference comments. Time to go back to ignoring the other guy.

Valdes: 9. Immense. Ginormous. The back-to-back saves on TB then Ozil in first-half injury time might not have saved the tie, but they sure as heck made it possible for us to win that match. Aside from that, he didn’t have much to do but did it beautifully. His strength of positioning and decisiveness were exactly what his defense needed, as well as his calm with the ball at his feet.

Alves: 5. Played to a 6, but lost a point for playacting. Wasn’t the offensive influence that he should have been, given that they were only interested in playing defense.

Mascherano: 8. Beast. I reckon the days of people arguing against his signing, saying he’s a card magnet are over. Positionally he was excellent, and in straight-up situations he took the ball time and again. The announcer that called him the back line’s weak link must have been joking.

Pique: 7. An excellent match, as he won every header that came near him, and brought the ball up from the back with style. Had a silly moment with Puyol that could have been dangerous, when they got in the other’s way.

Puyol: 7. Power, positioning and presence. Is he a lockdown LB? Nope. They had a number of opportunities that all came to life on Puyol’s side of the pitch. But Captain Caveman got it done ultimately, thanks in part to a negative, negative display by them.

Keita: 8. Wrecking ball. In thinking of ways to describe what he did, those are what come to mind. He was our counter to their Pepe, a destroyer who was also graceful with the ball at his feet. He might also have been more effective in this match than Iniesta would have been, it must be said.

Busquets: 5. Any number of Bad Busi! moments, in addition to his ridiculous sham. He had any number of good plays, but also many “What the ….” moments that could have been dangerous. It’s unlike him to be so loose with possession.

Xavi: 8. Majestic is the best way to describe his calmness with the ball, his probing passes that so often found their mark. He understood that not all the passes should be made against a packed, ball-hawking defense.

Pedro: 4. Lots of running to very little effect, and didn’t provide the width that he should have, at a time when Alves was playing tighter than usual because of Di Maria and Marcelo. And once again, a point is deducted for a silly, silly dive after a harmless Arbeloa challenge.

Villa: 5. Powerful and very active early, but faded at the match went on. Had a great chance early, that wasn’t off by very much. His movement was a threat that forced their players to react to him, but again, this quality faded as the match progressed.

Messi: 7. Too many moments of invisibility for my Man of the Match, but what a stunning, stunning accomplishment that just adds to the legend that is becoming our absolute delight of a player. I reckon he says that he runs at 5 men because he can, right? Both goals were amazing in their own right. Don’t sell his first goal short.

Substitutes

Afellay (for Pedro): 6. Probably would have played his way to a higher rating, but what an impact sub. He turned Marcelo repeatedly, and provided the width that opened up space elsewhere on the pitch.

Sergi Roberto (for Villa): incomplete. He just got a little taste of the atmosphere, and what must it have been like? Indescribable, I rather imagine.

Ultimately, here’s the thing: The best side won. People can carp, whine and howl about the refereeing, but the best side, the best team won. The refereeing didn’t make them sit back and waste the entire first half, fear and wrongheaded tactics did. They won the Copa. So what. If we can do the trick next Tuesday, we will be able to giggle about the fact that they spent all that money to win the Copa.

The psychological war, such as it was, is rubbish. The players decided this match on the pitch. Could Stark have called a better match? You bet. But people calling us divers should note their incidents as well. Neither side emerges from this one covered in glory, but it must also be said that Premiership fans crowing about their “man’s game” should just shut up. It isn’t as if diving and simulation isn’t a problem in that league, as well. It’s a problem everywhere, and the only solution for it is straight reds for simulation. Period.

Now it’s 0-2, coming into our house, and the rules are simple: Don’t concede more than two goals without scoring at least one. They will be without Ramos and Pepe for the return leg, which is huge. But odds are that they weren’t going to be playing much Pepe anyhow, since they will have to attack like crazy in the hopes of overturning the deficit in the tie. Mourinho says they have no chance. More psychological stuff? You betcha.

In a post-match press conference Mourinho, who called Guardiola out for whining about referees, brought up the ghosts of Ovrebo, last year’s officiating (which he conveniently forgets helped his side advance) and Stark. The omnipresent question was “Why? Why?”

The simple answer is because you sold your side short by not playing football. At least not European football. You sold them short by playing defensive, ugly football because that is what you do to advance in knockout competitions. Because ultimately, you can’t make the kinds of fouls that your players make and not pick up cards. That is why. If you call that much attention to the officiating, some of that blowback is going to hit you. You ask why? That’s pretty much what I see.

Meanwhile ….

"We're taking everything. Even the ball. Yes."
“We’re taking everything. Even the ball. It’s ours anyway.”

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In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.

269 Comments

  1. SoccerMom
    April 28, 2011

    So here’s a question for y’all.

    You are the coach of a brilliant passing side, with players great of heart but small of stature, with a few injured stars left to twinkle in the stands.

    You are about to face off with your nemesis, a coach who — regardless of the nature of the competition itself, just as long as the match is against you — routinely parks as many as 8 men behind the half-pitch mark, just to lay in wait for your MiniMen to dare crash the gate. He’s got a galaxy of superstars too, but they’re healthy and tend to hang out on the bench rather than the bleachers.

    Please consider, also, that another strategy of said nemesis is to bleat and moan about referree decisions in press conferences. Oh, he’s a pathological narcissist with a persecution complex to be sure, but he’s not stoopid, either. He doesn’t want to make your team feel bad, or his fans feel better. He wants to upset the officials, to put their nerves on edge, to make them split-second guess before spittle touches whistle, What did I see? Do I exhale? Should I make this call?

    Ah, do, too, ruminate: This pathological narcissist, with a persecution complex, a dominance of defensive tactics and a lockerroom full of multimillion-euro superstars with mouths as big as their muscles … well, he better pony up some silver draped in royal white this season, or he’s gonna lose his job.

    You are destined to meet this man on the pitch in as many as four games in as many weeks. You, with your twisted ankles and muscle aches and spinal-disk slips. You, who has to look twice at your bench mid-match: Are they all just short men, or are you really short men?

    What, in all likelihood, is the big ‘strategy’ that Barça was chided to ‘change their style’ for? Mou didn’t want to park a bus — he wanted to pitch a white-picket fence — with cleats. A real Madrid Thicket, if you will.

    So really, is it smart, is it tactical, is it even ethical to know, deep in the marrow of your narrow, well-proportioned little bones, that Mourinho is going to walk into the bowels of the Bernabeu and tell his players straight-up and out-loud, “Take them out.” After all, what does he have to lose? He spends half the season in the stands anyway. Is he going to face tough questions at some press conference? Are people going to whine that he’s not a nice person, once you get to know him?

    Or is it excusable — is it smart — is it necessary, to say, “All right, we know what we’re up against. A nasty coach and a frustrated team and a nervous ref. He is counting on bringing the pain. Not the ‘gain’ kind of ‘pain’. Real pain. Real, excruciating, end-your-season-if-not-your-career-if-you’re-lucky pain.

    “We do what we do, and we do it well. We will do that. But.”

    (Now looks at Alves. Then Sergi. Just a look. Then keeps looking around. Just looking at everyone, you know, making good eye contact with each player before the Big Game.)

    Meaning: You feel a breeze blowing Madridward on your leg hair, you fall like a rotten scaffold, you hear me?

    Forza Barça visca Pep.

    • blitzen
      April 28, 2011

      You, who has to look twice at your bench mid-match: Are they all just short men, or are you really short men?

      😆

      But wait! Fontas was on the bench too. He is at least two Messis tall!

    • April 28, 2011

      I think you’re probably right. Obvious playacting from Busquets, Alves, and Pedro yesterday seems kind of suspicious after lack of diving from Barça in the previous two Clasicos. It was probably intentional, a tactical decision.

      • April 28, 2011

        leg hair <3

    • April 28, 2011

      I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s exactly what happened. Especially considering the uncharacteristic way Pep & Valdes spoke out about the prospective referee for CL, and Pep’s calculated (in my opnion at least) pre-game ‘outburst’, it’s clear that Pep realized after the Copa final that something needs to be done in self-defense.

      That said, the way you’ve put it across would have even Madrid fans patting Busi’s head in sympathy and shaking Dani’s hand. This ought to be a separate post on its own so we can link people to it. 🙂

  2. Jim
    April 28, 2011

    Only just calming down now. So disappointed to walk into work today and find everyone talking about how we dived rather than the quality of our play or Messi’s goal.

    The good:

    We won !!!! Oh yes. This was Sooooooo important.
    Puyol is back and is as awesome as ever. His reading of the game is superb and I loved the bit where he ran across picked up the corner flag in his stride and then chucked it away like a spear.
    Xavi wasn’t daunted by facing the RM midfield without Iniesta ( although no question we lost a lot of our attacking threat without him)
    Pep has behaved well throughout and has shown Mourinho up.
    There is now a growing schism between Mourinho and some of his senior players. Ronaldo doesn’t like being shown up and won’t forget and Casillas is just biding his time.
    Affellay played well and showed some promise in a wing role and as a crosser of the ball ( sorry but some are going over the top unnecessarily again – for the goal Marcello slipped or he wasn’t getting away from him imo but I liked his aggressive attitude and the pace on the cross).

    The bad .. . . .

    I’m more and more embarrassed watching Alves and Busi has also regressed. If our sole ambition is to play football at RM’s level then I’m not interested. We have a team that can win without resorting to rubbish like that. I’m giving Pedro the benefit of the doubt this time only – he took a stamping but the other incident I’m not sure about at all.
    I’m gonna call Puyol out here as well. He should have prevented the crowd round the referee rather than being the chief culprit. If that’s the way we behave we will gradually lose admirers and come to be defined by that aspect of our play. It has started already.
    We showed little ambition at times in the game. Don’t like seeing us like that and I don’t believe we have to play like that to beat them.

    I hope that this has cleared the air – both camps must be embarrassed at the press it has received. It may just be that we get the game we have all been waiting for next week with both sides going for it in a clean game – if so they’re in for a humping 🙂

    • Humphrey Bogart
      April 28, 2011

      We may not have to play like that to win against them, but we may have to play like that to have at the end still 11 healthy players with all limps intact. If it would be after the EE player Dani would be in the hospital with a brocken leg and Pedro with a brocken ankle after Marcelo deliberatly stumped on him, the same goes for Villa (in the Copa final)

      • Jim
        April 28, 2011

        Having watched a series of Celtic vs Rangers matches over the past few months we maybe have a different idea of dangerous tackles. I didn’t see any leg breaking tackle apart from (maybe) Pepe.

        Imo, we need to leave it to the referee. I didn’t think, given the horrendously difficult nature of the game, he did too badly. Remember, this was against the backdrop of Mourinho’s rant against playing every game with 10 and it was in the Bernebeu. He denied Ronaldo a couple of reasonable fouls, he made a bold decision to send off Pepe – by no stretch was a red card a given in that situation – and it would have been easy to give into RM and book Messi.

        Alves took care of himself by launching into the air. If he’d left it at that I’d have no complaint with him. It’s maybe personal taste but I don’t want my team to indulge in cheating.

    • blitzen
      April 28, 2011

      I loved the bit where he ran across picked up the corner flag in his stride and then chucked it away like a spear.

      I forgot about that! I meant to give him an award for it! 🙂

      Also, this:

      Ronaldo doesn’t like being shown up and won’t forget and Casillas is just biding his time.

      ITA. Casillas in particular has seen so many managers come and go that he is just waiting it out. He knows Mou can’t last longer than another season at the most, and RM will still be there.

  3. blitzen
    April 28, 2011

    Oh, and Miguel, the Villarreal/Porto game is way more exciting in the second half, but I won’t spoil the score for you. Anyway, it’s not over yet.

    • Ryan
      April 28, 2011

      I tuned off after the first half. Without saying the score… holy crap!

    • April 28, 2011

      Rad! Thanks! Will have to wait until after Lakers game today, though.

    • April 28, 2011

      UNBELIEVABLE! They really have no shame!
      I really wonder if they put this in their “unsporting conduct” envelop.
      http://twitpic.com/4qo0k5

      floflo and moumou will be the end of rmadrid!

  4. barca4eva
    April 28, 2011

    I think u are being naive with all your complaints about play acting, which is typical of those of us that sits in the comfort of our homes to analyze and pen punditry. May be you should put on your boot and smile while your ankles are being chopped down by a bunch of guys who have zero regard to the rules of the game. True, the game was ugly, but it was ugly because Mourinho and RM decided to turn a soccer fiesta into a street fight. We came to play, to get something out of the tie. But the other side had no interest in the football and instead where relying on diabolical antics to succeed.

    And what do we hear from Kxevin? How unseemly Alves dove (because Pepe has been a role model of fair play), the evil play acting of Pedro (with no mention of the stamping that he received from Marcello); the reprehensible misconduct by Busquets(since Adebayo’s arms were having uncontrollable siezure and the flailing should be excused).

    If there is anyone to take responsibility, it is Mourinho and RM. And, I for one, will not take any lecture on football morality when my team is clearly the victim. The moral equivalent argument doesn’t hold up.

    A very poor article by Kxevin who is usually very brilliant in his analysis.

    • Jim
      April 28, 2011

      Where to start? I have played football (at a low level) for too many years to remember and come across a lot worse tackles than the current RM team have perpetrated and sometimes in muck about games with no referee but if I ever acted like Alves or Busquets I’d have to leave town to avoid the mockery of my friends. Having had luckily only one or two more serious injuries in that time the one thing I can tell you absolutely is that if you think you have been badly hurt you do not roll about.

      Other teams have no responsibility to treat us with kid gloves. We are the best and they are there to give us a hard time. If we had let the referee deal with it instead of cheating and diving we would have had the moral high ground and that is what leaves the taste in my mouth.

      You’re entitled to your opinion on Kxevin’s article but I can’t agree. I thought it was a pretty balanced, fair attempt to make sense of a disappointing game (apart from the result !) and as such is much more appealing to me than a Barca-centric account of events where we never do anything wrong and they are the devil incarnate.

      • mardia
        April 28, 2011

        Agreed. I love Barca, I loved the goals and the result, but there’s no reason we can’t take our players to task for some truly unbelievable diving. As a club, we can and should do better than that. And frankly, I appreciate that the bloggers here do try to be as fair and balanced as possible, even on as heated a topic as this Clasico.

    • April 28, 2011

      My sole point is a semantic one: There is taste, and quality. People often confuse the two. You label the review “very poor,” mostly because it doesn’t hew to your worldview of matters.

      That is taste, and there is no right, wrong or “poor” in matters of taste. “Poor” is an objective evaluative standard.

      You can say you don’t agree with the review, and that’s fair. It’s your opinion. “Poor” makes a judgement that requires a standard, as in grading curves, points or numerical scales.

      As far as rolling in and calling everyone “naive,” that’s beyond the pale for me. Go back up and read the entire review, not just the parts that you disagree with. Whether you put on football boots or not has absolutely no bearing on the shamefulness of the displays of some of our players. Messi got chopped and hacked, and you didn’t see him rolling around and crying.

      Victim? Football is the only victim here. We shouldn’t whine and say that we were “victims” when we knew very well what was going to result, with all of the attention being called to the qualities of the referee: A tight match. And tightly called matches will ALWAYS benefit us. Naivete works both ways.

      As you might (or might not) have read above, in my estimation NEITHER side had any real interest in playing football. Both would have been content to take a 0-0 draw to the Camp Nou. That’s why we aimlessly stroked the ball around, taking the odd opportunity to give scoring a go, but we weren’t really serious about it, until Messi decided enough was enough.

      This place is going to have opinions that you don’t agree with. That’s life. But before you label things “naive” or “poor,” ensure that your house is beyond reproach, and that your argument, intellectual or otherwise, is rock-solid.

      In this case it isn’t. Not even close.

      • barca4eva
        April 29, 2011

        My disagreement with your piece boils down essentially to this: the moral equivalent argument you are making-treating RM and Mourinho’s diabolical antics as just as bad as any play-acting Barca players might have displayed. Rm approach to the game was a set up that is based on the philosophy of the end justifying the means that backfired on them big time.

        Do I like play-acting/diving/cheating? No. Not at all. But as deplorable as that conduct is by a handful of our players, it is in no way comparable to the diabolical design of an entire institution whose sole focus was to subvert the integrity of the game to gain an advantage over an opponent.

        This is not a game played under heavenly rules with angelic officials. In fact if that were to be the case, Barca would be the biggest beneficiary given our eternal commitment to playing this game the way it ought to.

        Am happy that we won and my joy would not be tempered by any of the incidents that occurred before, during and after the game. That is what Mourinho would want people to feel.

  5. Dani_el
    April 28, 2011

    EE will SUE Barcelona on the UEFA for apparently simulating, and anti-sportmanship conduct…
    http://www.sport.es/es/noticias/barca/20110428/madrid-demanda-barca-apoya-mourinho/987363.shtml

    EE also stands behind Mou’s press conference of yesterday..
    http://www.realmadrid.com/cs/Satellite/es/1330054937207/noticia/Noticia/1330054937207.htm

    So If we thought behaviour like this would show EE’s president and directory how Mou’s conduct is disgraceful for the club, we thought wrong…

    • April 28, 2011

      Sigh. It’s all so petty.

      EE are very bad losers it seems. Very bad.

      • Noslehcimretep
        April 28, 2011

        you’d think with all the practice they get against us they might learn to be graceful about it. Practice makes perfect after all.

  6. April 28, 2011

    Let them roll in the mud…
    but it stupid really, we can show marcelo stepping on pedro, adebayor on xavi and busquets…
    what are they thinking…?

    • barca4eva
      April 29, 2011

      Thank you my brother.

  7. EA
    April 28, 2011

    They have no shame. Unbelievable.

  8. PM
    April 28, 2011

    I have seen all Barca matches this season. Busquets, Alves, Pedro.. absolutely no one dived or acted like yesterday’s match this whole season. Why did they suddenly decide to do it yesterday? Well, what else you can expect… You spend two nights in a prison cell trying to act like an angel among bunch of thugs, on the third night, my friend, you become THE Devil, and all Hell breaks lose. ‘Fear not,’ my friend, a man of great faith, says, ‘God saves us at the end with two golazos!’.

  9. gowtham
    April 28, 2011

    Hey Everyone!!
    Just watched the game for the second time and their are quite a few things I would like to point out:

    -Diving/Playacting: Our Players, when playing Real Madrid, have always been treated hard. They have been kicked, elbowed, and they have even been sat on!(cough*Ramos*cough). There must come a time when our players tend to get scared as well. We are one of the smallest teams in the world, and when there are players such as Adebayor running around trying to body check them, then the team is bound to get intimidated. And that will lead to an excess of diving, and the team will do anything to try and get players sent off, just for the sake of fearing for their safety. Think about it, Your in THE most highly charged game in the world, and you know that the only way your opponents are going to play the game is by beating the crap out of you. It must be frightening. IMO this is why we’ve seen an excess of play-acting and diving yesterday. In no way am I saying that it is right, I for one, hate it. But tactics and theatrics such as these are part of the game, and unless a red card is issued for play-acting/diving/running to ref, then it won’t stop. I wasn’t extremely proud of Busi, and Pedro, but they knew about the treatment they were going to get, and they acted accordingly.

    -Red Card: It was a red card. No question about it. The minute you go in a challenge with your studs showing, your bound to be punished. From experience, it is one of the most brutal things to happen to you, I was knocked out for 11 months because some jacka*s broke my ankle:S. What Pepe did was wrong and he deserved it. Thinking about it, RM players deserved a lot more red cards then they have gotten in the past three El Clasico’s.

    -Mou: Don’t like him, Hate him, I think he’s disrespectful, egotistic, and selfish. It boils my blood when I realize that he once used to be part of this club. His UNICEF comment was just low…

    -Pep: He nailed his tactics. His outburst was timed perfectly, and the response he got from the players was just wonderful. His decision to bring on Affelay was wonderful. Marcelo has hardly played against him, and his pace just destroyed the RM left-back. He’s becoming a much better tactician…on and off the field (*smirks*)

    -Signings: Many people, including Cules, have criticized his signings. But I think that he is learning from his mistakes. Ibrahimovic, and Chiggy, were bad pieces of business, but this season’s signings have been wonderful. Four players were signed for the season, and all of them have shown us that they belong to be in the starting XI. And the highlight is that being one of the smallest squads in the world, versatility is key, and the signings of Adriano, Masch, and Affelay were key to he squad. Masch can probably play up to 5 positions, so can Adriano. Affelay can play up to 3. And Villa has proven that he can interchange between any of the forward positions. Wonderful!

    -Last but not least, I want to share my thoughts about the young bloke who scored our two goals yesterday. Seriously speaking, I started to tear up when he score the second goal yesterday. He’s just outstanding. His brain, his stamina, vision, pace, finishing are all unparalleled. 52 GOALS IN 50 GAMES! and 25 ASSISTS…WTF!!! He’s only 23, yet he’s 7th in all time CL goals with 36. He is the THIRD all time top-scorer for FC Barcelona. Already holds most goals in Spanish La Liga( All Comps ), and has the most assists ever made in La Liga. Top scorer in CDR (Joint), CL, and La Liga. Two Ballon D’Ors (record is 3). This man is special. He never ceases to amaze us, yet he goes one step further every god-damn time. Any one thinking 60 goals this season???

    -BTW: what do you guys think would happen to Ibra when he eventually returns at the end of the season? My Idea: Sell him to Man City for 35 Million…

    Sorry for the length of the comment:D:D:D I VERY VERY HAPPY AND PROUD

    • Barcaleya
      April 28, 2011

      Well said 😀

    • barca4eva
      April 29, 2011

      Am with you all the way!

  10. Judas Pissed
    April 29, 2011

    We beat them at their own game – end of…

    Would any Cule REALLY rather we played like angels & lost 2-0? No we ruddy well wouldn’t…

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