ICYMI – the defending this “escudo” edition
In case you missed it – Barcelona vs. Real Madrid [2011-05-03, Champions League semifinals vuelta, 1-1].
All I can say is, I was happy to see much more civility in this game, and I am proud of my team. They fought and played hard, and that’s all we can ask of them, especially if there are things we cannot control. They have my support, and always will.
ONE. I loved Iker’s “¡vaya cara!” gestures! Seeing him do that twice made my day, and summed up the game perfectly.
According to AS, Iker might be investigated by UEFA for these gestures. Once again, UEFA shows themselves to be a big bunch of “eejits” (as they would say on a favorite TV show of mine – anyone know what it is?).
TWO. Some pre- and mid-game scenes. The two most elegant men in the stadium making their way to the locker room, and Cris giving a little pep talk while warming up.
And before the second half started, Marcelo shook his hair to get all the water out (I love Marcelo’s hair), while Iker adjusted his gloves. And Xabi stretching is such a mesmerizing sight!
THREE. José Mourinho decided to watch the game from the hotel, as there was no safe spot for him in the Camp Nou – after all, if one guy can elude a dozen security personnel and get close enough to Cristiano Ronaldo to attempt to put a hat on him, what’s going to happen to Mou, who’s public enemy number one as far as the Camp Nou is concerned? Several members of Madrid’s staff, including Silvino, Rui Faria and Chendo, were seen using iPads and mobiles, leading people to believe that they were secretly communicating with Mou. Aitor Karanka denied that this was the case, saying, “we spoke before the game about possible hypotheses and what we were going to do, but not during the game because it wasn’t allowed.”
The team left a symbolic seat empty for Mou, and Mesut and Karim looked cute in the second row.
FOUR. Speaking of the pitch invasion, here’s the shot of Cristiano avoiding the hat. He received praise from the referee for remaining calm. I love the way that Marcelo is just observing, with his arms crossed! By the way, UEFA better open an investigation against Barcelona for this pitch invasion, just as they did against Madrid.
I wonder if this had happened to a Barcelona player at the Bernabéu, would they have fallen to the ground clutching their knee or ankle (or face, if it were Busquets)? What we can be sure of is that if there is a foul like this one from Pedro on Lass, the Barcelona player would have fallen to the ground and not kept on running like Lass did, despite the lack of contact.
FIVE. Random moments: Álvaro Arbeloa lifting up his shirt to dry the ball, and Iker gesturing.
SIX. Some signs of frustration from our players, out of many during the game.
SEVEN. Vicente del Bosque watched the game next to Zubi, while FP was so nervous he was biting the piece of paper he had in his hand.
EIGHT. Marcelo’s goal. Valdés’ gesture after it looks less like a sign of frustration and more like an entreaty to the referee to find some way to have this goal annulled, no? I love the way Marcelo’s hair bounced as he ran in slow motion!
Side note: I also liked how Barcelona celebrated their goal by doing what they do best – diving. It really was like a swimming pool out there, between the rain and Barcelona watering the field.
NINE. More Marcelo – looking like he was at a water park, and more of his hair in slow motion.
TEN. In the 47th minute, the referee called a foul on Cristiano Ronaldo, thus negating the goal that Gonzalo Higuaín had just scored, saying that Cristiano had fouled Mascherano. What he seemingly neglected to account for was Piqué pushing Cristiano into Mascherano. After that happened, Mascherano first touched his knee, then decided his ankle would be a better injury spot, so his hands moved down. He then rolled around on the ground several times for effect. Of note: he rolled right on top of the supposedly injured ankle he was clutching. He would repeat this exact same move at another point in the game, only this time, he would pause mid-roll to see if the call was going to go his way, or if he needed to do some more acting.
So, the lesson at the Barcelona school of diving (Cris insinuated this exists) must go like this: roll at least twice, clutch knee/ankle/face, gesture and grimace in pain until the referee is convinced and makes a call in your favor.
ELEVEN. After the game, Sandro Rosell said, “tonight, football and the values of Barça have triumphed” (I see he and Xavi have the same speechwriter). He added, “the culé fan has set an example for good behavior. Our socios behaved civilly, and were very responsible.” So Mr. Rosell, would those examples of good, civil and responsible behavior include:
(1) Throwing an extra ball on the field to disrupt Madrid’s play when they were in Barcelona’s half of the field, right after they stole the ball from Barcelona? (2) Throwing hard objects on the pitch? The referee made Dani Alves pick it up. (3) the Camp Nou crowd making racist monkey noises at both Manu Adebayor and Marcelo during the second half, after they got tangled up with Busquets and Messi, respectively? (4) The pitch invasion? And would an example of “the values of Barça” be licking your lips as you watch your captain cavort topless around the field?
Rosell went on to say, “our players were marvelous, they were the great actors of the night (han sido los grandes actores de la noche).” A Freudian slip, no doubt.
TWELVE. More post-game declarations.
Iker said that Mourinho sent them a message congratulating them for the game they played, and that “there were certain things that I didn’t like about the Barcelona players, some comments that they made.” As to Higuaín’s annulled goal, our captain said, “what else do you want me to say. One more time, it’s the same thing as always. But whatever any Real Madrid player says will be used against them in the future. No one likes to be eliminated like this. They shouldn’t receive so much help from the referees. We’re hurt and angry. The referees killed us. They robbed us here and there. We’re not in the final because of them.”
Meanwhile, Xabi said, “we’re very disappointed with these decisions.” In allusion to comments made by Xavi about Real Madrid’s style, he said, “I don’t criticize the football of any teammates.” And Cristiano added, “it was Mission Impossible IV. We knew something was going to happen. Higuaín’s goal was legal yet they didn’t allow it. We knew that if we scored, they were going to do everything to make sure we wouldn’t advance. That’s not good for football. It will be better next season if they just give Barcelona the cup directly… Mascherano wasn’t like this in Liverpool, he would never have dived, while here, it seems like he dies each time he’s touched, like the rest of them. Barcelona has a great team, so there’s no need for them to be helped.” Cue Barcelona’s legal team complaining to UEFA!
And Xavi said after the game, “we won, and we showed that we’re superior. Football justice was served. The best team moved on to the final.” And no, this was not cut and pasted from Xavi’s declarations after the Copa del Rey final or the first leg, even though they sound exactly the same. So, win, loss or tie, no matter how they play, no matter how the opposition plays, no matter if there is even a game, Barcelona is always the best team, superior, etc.
Arbeloa and Xabi, showing much more class than Xavi, waited around at the end of the game to congratulate and shake hands with Barcelona’s players. Piqué and Arbeloa hugged, as did Piqué and Xabi. Yay!
THIRTEEN. The Xabi Alonso pose section.™
Now I know why the referees are always making calls for the other team… they just want Xabi to come up and argue with them, because he looks so good while doing it!
Xabi ran 11.15 km during this game, the most on Madrid. Lass was second with 10.38 km, and Ángel di María third with 10.05 km.
FOURTEEN. The Karanka corner.
In his post-game press conference, Aitor was blunt: “once more, the míster was right. He said that it was going to be a mission impossible, and that’s what happened. There’s not much more to say, millions of people saw it, just like they did the last game… they annulled a legal goal, but at least they let us finish with 11 players.” He also praised his players, saying, “madridistas should be proud of the month we’ve had.”
I for one am.
FIFTEEN. Looking ahead and other things: Madrid’s players had today off and will resume training tomorrow to start preparing for Saturday’s game against Sevilla in the Sánchez Pizjuán. Should Iker bring along a helmet?
And of course, go Raúl/Schalke, but failing that, go Manchester United! ¡A por ellos!
Go here to see a short video of Ozi’s family talking about him. His sister (who could be his twin) says that he’s very family-oriented, they talk by phone every day, and that he’s very affectionate and loves telling jokes. His mom says they’re all very proud of him.
Tweets! Álvaro said it was a tough day for everyone, and thanked everyone for their constant and unconditional support. Esteban said that the team will return, and thanked the fans for being a “10.” And Sergio congratulated his teammates for the game, and said it’s better not to talk about the referee.
Meanwhile, Xabi told us that his cousin Gorka is a geek!
And a note: please keep comments civil, free of cursing and respectful of others.