Barça Butchering Their Brilliance

by Samuel Luckhurst

A hotel named after a king, fit for a king José Mourinho will doubtlessly feel, as he checked-in to watch this season’s fifth El Clásico from the Hotel Rey Juan Carlos on security advice, but security could just have easily been called to deal with a Keith Moon-esque disturbance. Again the blood-boiling histrionics and gamesmanship of FC Barcelona were showcased brazenly and with particular panache by Javier Mascherano, who the US SEAL’s will receive offers to eliminate once they return from their Pakistan jaunt.

It was maddening enough for a neutral to watch the prolonged agony feigning theatrics of Sergio Busquets, the simulation conducted by Carles Puyol, Mascherano and, whisper it, Lionel Messi, so Mourinho should be excused if he did throw the television into the swimming pool. Bumping into West Ham United’s combative legend Billy Bonds at Bluewater last week, I asked him briefly on what he thought of the first leg, which he said made him “fucking sick”. Of course, this Real Madrid side are not exempt from the unsavoury aspects of football, but their relish for a physical duel has the impressionable pundits effectively labelling them as the Beast to Barcelona’s Beauty.

Jeff Stelling threw a friendly barb Mourinho’s way when at half-time he suggested he may be gorging on a Toblerone and swigging from mini bar sized bottles. Taking a bigger plate to comfort eat may also have been apt, because another referee penalised a Mourinho side without a smidgeon of dishonour. Ever since Uefa referees’ committee chairman Volker Roth branded Mourinho an “enemy of football” for his critique of referee Anders Frisk in 2005, his sides have borne the brunt of some perplexing decisions. A year after the Frisk furore, Asier Del Horno was sent off at Stamford Bridge for colliding with Messi, when both should have been booked for their ensuing theatrics. Then last season, a real enemy of football, Busquets, faked pain to ensure that Thiago Motta was sent off to give Barça a man advantage against Internazionale. This was compounded by Pepe’s unfortunate dismissal at the hands of more simulation by Dani Alves last week, yet the shameful butchery of Barça’s ethos is being glossed over and ignored by the media and pundits.

The usually thorough Graeme Souness displayed a level of sycophancy towards the Catalans that was unfathomable considering his sheer intolerance for play-acting as a player, while the tedious and frankly biased droning of Alan Smith would make the most partisan supporter passable in a broadsheet paper, considering he is one of this country’s football writers. Smith embodied a patent problem whereby people are too eager to laud Pep Guardiola’s brilliant side for their aesthetic beauty and cannot bear to condemn facets of their game that are anti-football. It spoke volumes that Eidur Gudjohnsen, an ex-Barcelona player, was ironically the sole pundit on Sky’s coverage chastising them for their dramatics.

Twice last night the Belgian referee Frank De Bleeckre prevented a goal-scoring opportunity or a goal in Madrid’s favour. He spotted a phantom foul on Puyol by Angel Di María in the first half and in the second period penalised Cristiano Ronaldo for colliding into Mascherano, completely accidentally, which certified that Gonzalo Higuaín’s goal was disallowed. Mascherano clutched his leg as if it was dangling limply on a couple of occasions and executed a shameless dive under a Xabi Alonso challenge, yet analysts focused on Ricardo Carvalho not being sent off in the first half. Carvalho was reckless but his third foul showed no contact on Messi, yet we can’t have the world’s greatest player being put in harm’s way can we?

Ronaldo started to laugh in the face of suspicious officiating, yet members of the British press still lamented Madrid’s assistant coach Aitor Karanka complaining about De Bleeckre in the post-match press conference, ostensibly oblivious to what had taken place before them. Suddenly what is emerging is an agenda with whatever Mourinho has to say and what Madrid stand for. Xavi acutely informs the press how the nurturing mentality of Barcelona differs wildly from the incessant outlays that Madrid have made for over a decade, and he is gaining friends via his thinly veiled digs at Madrid’s hollow approach to yield success.

Indeed it may be a hollow approach, but Barcelona deserve just as much, if not more, flak because they are spoiling their success shamelessly. Mourinho made a valid point when he stated that favourable decisions pushed the blaugrana towards European Cup finals this year and against Chelsea in 2009, but their players are perpetuating the myth of tainted triumphs by embracing gamesmanship and cheating to gain advantages over opponents. And this is unlikely to abate when even their esteemed coach is prone to feeling sudden agony. Barcelona’s nimble and fleet-footed players evidently don’t relish the physicality which football entails, and their willingness to successfully demonstrate its ugliness when contact is minimal is working to their advantage. Alas in the other corner is a man so arrogantly brash that Catalan antics are but a mere footnote to the Special One’s front and back page spreads.

13 Responses

  1. boohoo says:

    That accidental foul on Mascherano, was still a foul. It impeded his run in defense, even a neutral can see that. Just saying.

    1. NICEGUY says:

      No true. Decision should be or foul by Pique or goal for Higuain.

      This was never Ronaldo’s foul on Mascherano, because he was falling because Pique stopped him.

  2. Santiago says:

    What a load of rubbish, you should stick to doing something else. Its all Barcas fault right?..

    Why does your blind eye notice Mottas sending off and not Barca’s disallowed goal by Bojan, what about Inters offside goal to make it 3-1 (turned out to be the tie winner), what about Alves being denied a blatent penalty in the 1st leg V Inter.

    Have you also forgotten the diving and play acting of D Maria, Ronaldo and Marcelo througout the year. What about the stamping by Marcelo on Pedro….I bet you didn’t see that did you, what about Marcelo’s dive in the 2nd league match on April 16th then jumping up as if he won the lottery once he realised a penalty’s been given. It does’nt end here….the countless violent fouls waved away in the Copa Final, and Carvalho, Alonso, Diarra and Adebayor getting away with single bookings. Did you see how Adebayor in both games attacked players with his hands up, kicking and lunging like the Sunday league?….then again you wouldn’t see that would you. The fact is over 2 legs and nearly half a billion of bought talent Mourinho and Real could not beat Barca face to face. Look at their ridiculous amounts of posession, shots at goal over the two legs from them…4 shots in 180 minutes from a team costing 500 million now thats a disgrace.

    1. segz says:

      Young Man….. so much grammer and yet u said nuthn….. possession doesnt show superiority; tactis does…. barca has always been favoured….. Fact is Fact…. the only truth is they played good enuff to get that favoritism and other teams should probably do same… but no sweat, the bitter truth is barca cant beat 11 Men real without antics…..That they still have to prove!

    2. issa says:

      segz already said alot of what i wanted too but thier are a few things i want to add.Barca dive and simulate under minimal contact but this should not allow them to paint themselves as victims of the brutal madrid, Busquets made a tackle on Alonso worse than Pepe’s red card, and Barca players comitted numerous fouls-the difference being that players like Lass, Pepe, Alonso didn’t behave as if they had been shot. As to Marcelos stamping on Pedro, I do not believe that anyone could prove that it is intentional- if it is 1 it is a step not a stamp and 2 while i don’t condone Marcelos actions people should remember that Pedro had twice previously tried to get Marcelo booked, as well as poking him and hounding him with comments. It is also important to remember that another player Busquets had done the same as well as mouthing the word mono at Marcelo( which means monkey), I think in the circumstances Marcelo showed remarkable restraint- Barcas place in the final is tainted, (Copenhagen, Arsenal , Madrid) as is thier 2009 title(chelsea) and the bias shown by the British press and pundits as to condoning thier flagrant and disgusting gamesmanship is pathetic.
      btw props to the auther for the guts to admit that Messi behaves just like the rest of the FCB dramatics society.

    3. Thomas Gaunt says:

      Santiago, please answer me one question, without talking about ANY other team or ANY other incident. What do you think about Busquets holding his face, then peaking through fingers to get Motta sent off, and more recently Pedro running into Arbeloa with shoulder contact and then holding his face in order to try and get him sent off? I would be ashamed and appalled if that was my team – it is the most disgusting behaviour in football. Please answer my question, and remeber just this question :-)

  3. karen says:

    couldn’t agree more.

  4. Cam says:

    Barcelona were by far better over the two legs, and would have won by more if they weren’t being fouled every time they had the ball.

    Mourinho’s tactics have been to kick and foul them so that if they lose and get men sent off they can then moan. Sadly, it makes Mourinho to be the arrogant and bitter man he is and the whole ‘us against them’ attitude he carries on to all his clubs has rubbed off on to this Real Madrid side, which is a shame.

    And the whole Barca can’t beat Real with 11 men is nonsense, they were 5-0 up before Ramos got a red card for kicking Messi.

    In the end, what is worse? A player feigning injury or a team playing and going about the game with complete cynicism.

  5. Bob says:

    Ive no problem with people taking issue with diving and simulation, but Barca ought not to be singled out for it. Its a disease that is infecting the game all over the world.

    Oh and Messi is one of the most impecibly behaved footballers in the world. Dredging up the Chelsea games from seasons back is a little desperate.

  6. Bear Crotch says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NQUGK7fWP3Y&feature=related

    Yep, he sure is an angel isn’t he? Sorry, but Catalan shit is as foul Pep’s potty mouth that also went unpunished.

    There may not be a conspiracy, but it is financially beneficial for the media to swoon at Barcelona’s every move and sweep the bad under the carpet. Be objective and call a spade a spade.

  7. Brandy says:

    Good article. Whilst we rightly admire the passing-game that graduates from La Masia are brought up on, we can’t ignore the fact that they are also encouraged to behave as they did over these 2 legs.

    Busquets, Pedro, Iniesta, Valdes, Puyol and even Messi constantly dive, feign injury and surround the referee. Yes, other teams may do this, but not to the extent or frequency that Barca do.

    Xavi often mentions how he and his team-mates have been brought up to play ‘the Barcelona way” – I couldn’t agree with him more.

  8. Mahesh says:

    There is truth to both side. As Real showed, they can play an awesome game and play like champions as they did in the return leg. But the first leg was a bitter case of narrow mindedness by Mou and a bad example of sportsmanship by some Barca players. A true champion who loves to play football will play football rather than preventing your opposition from playing theirs. I dont see that as often as Mou does. All great coaches (Van Gaal, Hitzfield, Wenger, Sir Alex to name a few) play to thier advantage rather than to only counter your opposition. Mou has always trued to play the victim card to use his negative tactics and he is doing the same. Being a Real fan, it embarasses me that we have stooped to this level to beat Barca. I agree that Barca is superior now but complaining about it all the time and winning against them at any cost is not the way to go about it. Everything has a cycle. Its Barca’s time now.
    When Mou used such negative tactics, why is it wrong that Barca used negative tactics of play acting to counter Mou’s.
    And wrt to Messi diving, he dint dive looking for a red card from Del horno. If he had to dive, he would dive a a 100 times for every game with all the foul that’s been committed on him.
    All in all just a disappointment for both sets of fans who wanted to watch a few good classicos irrespective of the result.

  9. Thomas Gaunt says:

    BRILLIANT ARTICLE. I was just penning somthing myself, then saw this and you have articulated it for me :-)

    Couldn’t agree with you more, and i think the responses show how blind the world is (or choses to look the other way) to Barce’s cheating. Many teams dive, many teams foul and get punished… so i am happy to not look into that. HOWEVER – Busquets, Pedro, Alves, Mascherano commited the ultimate sin in football, feighning injury in an attempt to get another player booked or sent off….. and noone has said or done a thing. I dont support madrid but i felt sick watch barce and their cheating. If they are favoured by refs, there is nothing the manager and players can do – BUT they can do something about their cheating and so can FIFA – but obviously they wont.

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