By Chris Wright
After sorting out an issue with some ridiculously large, screen-blotting subtitles, I took a seat in the local alehouse awaiting a feast of football afore football’s twin behemoths set about each other for the third time in the space of a fortnight though – as tends to happen all too often with these over-hyped Barcelona/Real Madrid games – the match itself was somewhere akin to watching two twin brothers squabble in the back seat of the car for 90 minutes.
Last night’s Champions League semi-final first-leg Clasico was a soul-sappingly terrible game for the most part, littered with feigning, fawning, yellow-bellied simulating, chirruping, fouling, unwarranted red cards, sniping and whatever-it-takes gamesmanship. My heart sank.
Thankfully, Senor Messi pulled goals no. 51 and 52 out of his silken bag (#52 was a work of true beauty, no?) to at least furnish the game with a smidge of grace.
Speaking after the game, Real coach Jose Mourinho – who was sent to the stands for ridiculing the referee’s decision to dismiss Pepe – unveiled his conspiracy theory behind the loss to the baying press:
“I hope that one day [Guardiola] will win a clean Champions League, with no incidents behind it. Today it’s clear that against Barcelona you have no chance.
“I don’t understand why. I don’t know if it’s the publicity and sympathy of UNICEF (Barca’s sponsor), I don’t know if it’s the friendship of (Spanish football federation president Angel Maria) Villar at UEFA, where he is vice-president, I don’t know if it’s because they are very nice, but they have got this power. The rest of us have no chance.”
Barca are now threatening to report Mourinho and Real Madrid to their friends at UEFA. In truth, they’re both as bad as each other – always have been, always will be. Spoilt brats, the lot of ’em.
Bonus fun fact: Barca ‘keeper Victor Valdes covered more ground than Mesut Ozil and Ibrahim Afellay combined (3796 metres) by running head-long at the referee at every single sound of Wolfgang Stark’s whistle.
David Villa is buffeted from behind by Marcelo
Lionel Messi nips away from Pepe
Pepe sees red for a shin-high challenge on Dani Alves, who drove his face into the turf and rolled around in ‘agony’ before being stretchered from the field, despite the fact that almost no contact was made…
…that said, I thought it looked like a red-card offence in ‘real time’ – just because Pepe’s an absolute pig
Jose Mourinho has words with Carles Puyol on the sidelines…
…before being sent to the stands for his sarcastic applause and protestations over Pepe’s dismissal
Emmanuel Adebayor and Gerard Pique chase down a loose ball
Cristiano Ronaldo glides past Xavi’s outstretched leg
Emmanuel Adebayor steers the ball away from David Villa
Real Madrid players react to Lionel Messi’s opening goal
Cristiano Ronaldo reacts after spurning a chance
“Who’s the f**king chief now Jose?”
Barcelona celebrate en masse after the final whistle
Without wishing to jump the gun, how does a Manchester United vs Barcelona final at Wembley sit with everyone?
Photos courtesy of the PA.