|photo by Endlisnis||via PhotoRee|
Notes on El Clasico, numero tres:
Well, I guess Pep's outburst at the press conference on Tuesday had its intended effect: His team came out bitch slapping, cat fighting and play-acting like champions, with even their scrub goaltender Jose Pinto managing a massive accomplishment, recieving a red card send-off without ever setting foot on the pitch.
The game opened with a massive yawn, though, as the two sides basically played knockabout for the first 35 minutes. At one point early on, I watched as Barca completed 15 consecutive passes without leaving their own half.
Without Real Madrid pressing them in the slightest.
Is that really the Beautiful Game, or just the boring game?
Things soon hotted up though, as the two teams began to fight like teenage girls who've had their boyfriends stolen. Which leads me to the following obeservation: Screw the game. This contest was something ripped straight out of Correspondent Ed's wildest dreams: it was like watching teenage girls have a pillow fight at a slumber party, albeit without the negligees or sexiness.
The amount of complaining from the Blaugrana was embarassing. Flat out embarassing. My general belief is that players who ask the referee to produce a yellow or red card should themselves be carded, except that action would have left Barcelona with no players on the pitch by game's end. End of story. It was hilarious to see Barca Captain Carles Puyol, Keita, Javier Mascherano and more, all with "Respect" emblazoned on their red and blue sleeves, gesticulating at and arguing with last night's referee when he failed to produce a yellow card.
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The three of them should be carded retroactively for their false injury claims, as two of them held their faces when television replays showed they were lightly bodychecked and never received any contact near their head, and the third made a meal of a soft challenge by Pepe -- which probably didn't deserve even a yellow card. It was embarassing to watch, and any true fan of football, including those who support the Blaugrana, should condemn their cheating behavior in the strongest terms.
At a certain point, and I don't know exactly when except to say it happened some time during the first half, the referee lost control of the match, and allowed himself to be swayed by Barca's cheating, whinging and whining. Jose Mourinho acually ended up in the Beranbeu's jail due to his pointing out the ridiculous nature of Barca's farcical performance to the referee. And from theat point in time the actual outcome of the game was a mere formality, with Real Madrid down to ten men, and it was only a matter of time before the cheaters -- I mean the Spanish champions -- grabbed a lead, and then a second goal to put the tie basically out of reach.
In the end, though, the talking points about El Clasico Tres won't be about the final 2-nil score. They will, and should be, about the manner in which Barcelona achieved their pyrrhic victory. For all those concerned about football's wimpy image, as a sport marred by girlish players who go to ground at the first threat of contact, this game only served to exacerbate the issue. In the very worst way.
I have a proposed solution: based on their performance last night, half of Barcelona's team should be relegated to the WPSL -- that's the Women's Professional Soccer League in the US for those of you who are not (unlike Correspondent James) massive fans -- for their feminine bitch slapping and fake injury claims. It was truly a bitter pill to swallow if you love the game.
And it leaves me with one final thought: I've never wanted Real to win the re-match so badly in my entire life: Hala Madrid!
This is farlieonfootie for April 28.