We advanced. Through all the nonsense, all the recriminations, all the nastiness, we advanced. People will talk, people will natter about what might have been, but we advanced, and are through to the Champions League final.
This match demonstrated a lot of things, but most importantly, that Mourinho got his tactics right. He knows that his side can’t play football with us, that the only way to make it happen is to kick, foul and try to make the match into a disjointed affair where his side’s strength on the counter and off set pieces can carry the day.
And it almost worked. Recall that he was all but playing for a 0-0 at home, then a 1-1 in our house. He only got the back part of that result, and history won’t remember that he almost made it work against us …. again. That we prevailed came down to some amazing, amazing football from our No. 10, who took the away and home legs by the scruff of the neck for about 10 minutes each time, but in that period in each match, he managed to instill doubt, to put them on the back foot and facilitate his team’s moving through to the Champions League Finals, against an opponent to be determined tomorrow.
There were many beautiful moments, from the goal that was scored, to Messi battling through challenge after challenge, picking himself up and proceeding to work like a demon unbound. The moment when Abidal came onto the pitch was glorious, and for me, despite what I can only imagine people are saying, the ref got the annulled goal right. Mascherano would have gotten to that ball, had he not been clipped by TB. Incidental contact? Perhaps. But certainly contact that adversely determined the outcome of the play, and guaranteed the goal.
This match had so, so many moments, but I can’t really do a review of this one, but rest assured that someone else will. Apologies to everyone, but I just can’t. Instead here are some pictures that for me represent the moment. I’ll deal with precisely why I can’t review the match, after the images.
And now for what is, for me, the bittersweet part. Obviously, these reviews are personal documents. Yes, they’re subjective evaluations of the match, but I put a lot of myself into them, as I do with any writing task. And for the record, this will be my last review of the season, and quite possibly my last, period. I know that he is innocent until proved guilty, but I just can’t deal with the idea that Busquets might have called Marcelo a monkey. And I don’t know what the outcome will be of the club’s investigation into the matter, or if there will even be one. I do know that I’m having a really, really hard time dealing with the pain that I’m feeling right now.
I wrote what honestly began life as a review with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. It really, really hurts right now, because I just don’t know what to do. Guardiola dedicated the winning of the tie to Abidal, his wife and his children, an amazing thing to say. But Abidal is a black player, and you can’t help but wonder, if the horrible, horrible allegations are proved true, what Busquets would call him in a moment of strife. Yes, he is innocent until proven guilty. But for me, it’s the doubt. And it’s that doubt that’s killing me.
With all that weighing on me, I have to recuse myself from doing a review, because my heart just isn’t in it. For me, as usual, SoMa speaks with an eloquence that I can only hope to aspire to, so I will simply add her comment, and offer my apologies to the group. This document began life as a review. I watched the match twice, took the usual copious notes and everything. But I just can’t do it. It hurts too much right now to do anything except offer full disclosure, and my heartfelt apologies. Celebrate and celebrate well, cules. It was a job well done by the club.
This is a long-abandoned thread but I haven’t been able to get here until now. I think we need to be realistic here.
First: Sergio Busquets did not call Marcelo ‘momo’. He called him ‘mono’. This is clear from the video: a bilabial occlusive followed by a front dental articulation.
Second: Nobody calls anybody a ‘momo’. He called him ‘mono’, or ‘monkey’. This is a racial slur.
Third: Sergio Busquets did not put his hand to his mouth in order to make his voice louder to Marcelo. He put his hand to his mouth because he knows, just like the coaches on the bench and the partners on a free kick, that thousands of cameras are trained on him and he didn’t want his comments heard by the refs or decoded by the press.
Fourth: Sergio Busquets did not call Marcelo ‘mono’ in the heat of the moment. He does not appear angry, or flustered, or even particularly excited in the video (unlike, say, Xabi Alonso at the end of the first half). He calls Marcelo ‘mono’ deliberately in order to irritate Marcelo and provoke unsportsmanlike conduct on Marcelo’s behalf.
Fifth: There is no way Sergio Busquets is going to be removed from Barcelona FC. They made him, they broke him in, they bought him. He is a principal on a World-Cup winning national team, he is a starter on one of the best soccer teams in Europe, and he is one of the top midfielders in the world. He also has family ties to FCB. I would be very suprised at an official complaint, no matter how justified, from Marcelo himself or, more likely, Real Madrid’s behalf, simply because I would imagine that a lot of stuff gets said on a field that no one wants anyone else to know about.
I disagree with PJ O’Rourke on just about everything, but his quote (on drug use among professional athletes) is relevant:
“True, children look up to professional athletes. But children are short and look up to everything.”
If we want to discuss this matter — or any matter — let us do so, but let us do so honestly.