ICYMI – the Oscars edition
In case you missed it – Real Madrid vs. Barcelona [2011-04-27, Champions League semifinal ida, 0-2].
I wouldn’t blame you if you don’t want to read this ICYMI post, but despite all the drama surrounding this game, there were some cute moments involving our boys, and ironically hilarious moments involving Barcelona. And to entice you to read the post, here’s Sergio and The Thigh, again.
Before I start, I’d like to say that I know Madrid players are sometimes guilty of the things that I criticize Barcelona players for doing (and it shames me), but I’m not going to go into that because (1) in this particular game, they weren’t guilty, and (2) I’m sure there are enough culés doing that already.
ONE. And the Oscar for best documentary short subject goes to… Xavi Hernández! In a stunning display of sportsmanship after the game, he said this: “they play dirty, because that’s what their coach instills in them. Once more, we were superior, and on their field. We’re the only team that wants to play beautiful football. Today, football won.”
So modest! And it sounds exactly the same as when Barcelona lost, no? If Barcelona’s not playing it, then it’s not football.
And if Mou instills playing dirty in us, what does Pep Guardiola instill in the Barcelona players, besides “beautiful” football? Acting? Cheating? Poor sportsmanship? Side note: go here to see Xavi describe Arbeloa quite differently than he did after the Copa del Rey game (i.e. he’s much nicer when he hasn’t just been beaten), and Cristiano “as the most individualistic player I have ever seen in my life, but in a ‘good’ way.”
TWO. And the Oscar for best visual effects goes to… Sergio Busquets! The Barcelona midfielder spent most of the game on the ground, with his hands covering his face (which we can assume is his favorite position, since he’s been doing that since last year). That was not the only interesting thing. As you can see, sometimes when he wasn’t even touched in the face – or at all -, he would still fall on the ground clutching his face. It’s gotten to the point where I am even embarrassed for him.
And Iker is so much better than me, I would not have helped Busquets up. Even his own teammate Messi stands around instead of doing it.
It’s almost like a fun game – spot Busquets! Bonus points if his hands are on his face!
Note: some of these incidents were only seconds apart, i.e. Busquets fell down, saw that no one was paying attention and got up, and then fell down again.
Busquets also apparently called Marcelo a “monkey” (watch the video here). It’s not conclusive what Busquets said to Marcelo, but the fact that he covers his mouth with his hand shows something – unless it’s become an involuntary gesture for him, since his hands spend so much time in the area of his head. If this is true, then I’ve lost what little respect I have left for Busquets (from his performances with La Roja) because this is racist, insensitive and boorish behavior. And how can any decent person be capable of this kind of behavior, especially if he has current and former teammates who have also been victims and hurt by things like this? In addition, his own teammates have made anti-racism public service announcements! Maybe they should start getting the message across closer to home, no?
THREE. And the Oscar for best makeup goes to… Pedro! For making up this aggression from Álvaro Arbeloa. As you can see, Pedro basically ran into Álvaro, the two of them collided at their shoulders/arms, and Pedro fell to the ground clutching his left eye.
Notice a theme here?
No, thank you, Pedro, for regaling us with your theatrical skills.
FOUR. And the Oscar for best actor goes to… Dani Alves! For rolling around repeatedly on the ground, simulating pain, when Pepe hadn’t even touched him. And why would he be rolling on the ground if his leg were really injured? Wouldn’t that make it worse? He even left the field on a stretcher, but when the game resumed (and he saw Pepe sent off), he was miraculously alright again, hopping right off said stretcher, running and kicking without any problems! What a performance. That’s why I applaud you, Dani, and why you are a deserved winner.
I guess that’s why the grass was extra long at the Bernabéu. It was to help cushion the fall of the Barcelona players, since we all know how much they like to fall to the ground, and so we were just watching out for them! And this is the thanks we get?
FIVE. And the Oscar for best actor in a supporting role goes to… José Pinto! After all, he wasn’t even in the game, yet he got himself red carded for slapping Álvaro Arbeloa in the face and trying to choke Chendo during the half.
SIX. Another theme of this game was Barcelona’s players constantly running up to the referee to protest each and every single decision that went against them, complete with gestures of indignation. I have never seen Víctor Valdés sprint so fast as when he was trying to reach the referee, and Carles Puyol even often followed the referee around jabbering away.
And when Xabi tried to get a word in, Puyol shoved him away. The fourth official wasn’t immune either, as he had the pleasure of having Barcelona’s substitutes constantly protesting in his ear.
The only good thing about this is that Xabi threw out a few poses during these moments.
And now, onto the good stuff (i.e. the Real Madrid stuff), although it pains me a bit to put them right next to that ugly stuff you just saw.
SEVEN. Some shots of the most beautiful stadium in the world.
This is the scene that greeted Madrid’s team bus as they arrived at the stadium on Wednesday afternoon. I love my fellow madridistas!
EIGHT. And this is Marcelo, looking adorable as he walked into the stadium. FP was there to greet the players as they entered the stadium. He told Cris “hoy dos” (score two today), while Higuaín said to him, “¿qué tal presi?”
NINE. One new sign and one old sign greeted the players. The new one says, “we live for you, so beat them for us.” Very brief, yet poignant.
TEN. Our beautiful team warming up. Cris and Marcelo both looked up, while Xabi and Iker looked forward.
And here is Sergio
in a hair commercial warming up, while Marcelo gives someone five.
ELEVEN. Inside the tunnel, the subs hugged the starters as they made their way to the field, and on the field, the team continued with the huddle tradition. I love it.
TWELVE. No words needed.
THIRTEEN. Álvaro, Iker and Sergio sum up perfectly what we were feeling during most of the game, no?
FOURTEEN. At the half, Mou spoke to Iker, Xabi posed and Álvaro changed shirts (he-llo Ál-va-ro!!!).
FIFTEEN. Mou got himself kicked out of the game for sarcastically applauding and giving the thumbs up to the decision of the referee to expel Pepe. He also said “well done” several times while nodding. He also gave the thumbs up to the Barcelona bench, as if saying, “yes, you managed to achieve it one more time.” I love this man, and I even applaud his thumbs ups here.
SIXTEEN. Mou went and took a seat right next to the end of the bench, in the stands (the security personnel placed a chair there for him so he wouldn’t have to sit on a step), where he continued taking notes and communicating them to his assistants, just as he had done up to that point.
SEVENTEEN. At the end of the game, Piqué shook hands with some of his La Roja teammates (it seems to me as if he’s trying to atone for something, no, between this and what he did at the end of the Copa del Rey game, because “sportsmanlike” and “Piqué” are hardly ever mentioned in the same sentence so this is odd behavior for him), while Xabi complained to the referee, and showed his exasperation while looking totally and completely boss.
Iker also showed good sportsmanship, as he always does, regardless of the circumstances, despite some of the undeserving recipients.
EIGHTEEN. Some reactions. I love what Manu had to say.
Cris: everyone saw what happened. When we were playing 11 against 11, perhaps we weren’t playing well, but we had control over the game. It’s always the same against Barcelona, is it a coincidence? We’re very sad because it’s always the same against this team and because the same thing always happens to the míster against Barcelona.
Xabi: it wasn’t an expulsion [Pepe’s challenge], it was a contested ball and it conditioned the game. The game was going how we wanted, without goals but looking for our opportunity. The expulsion changed the game and we feel very frustrated because it was unjust and everyone could clearly see that it was.
Iker: always ending with 10 is not normal.
Sergio: this theater has to end. I hope some things will change because this is damaging the image of the sport. El madridismo and us are both hurt with what we saw on the field. Alves committed his sixth foul and nothing happened, Ramos his first and he received a card. There are players that are responsible for trying to start fights to see if they can get someone expelled, but we’re not like that.
Adebayor: football is a game of men. Whenever you play against Barcelona, whenever you touch them, they are on the floor crying like a baby. Whenever you make contact in a 50-50 they are on the floor, crying, putting their hand over their face, and their manager, their fans, they are always crying.
NINETEEN. The Xabi Alonso pose section.™
See, Barcelona literally makes Xabi sick.
TWENTY. The Mou corner.
As soon as Mou sat down for his press conference, he advised everyone present that “if I say what I’m thinking, my career would end.” He then went on to say, “sometimes football makes me sick,” that he hopes Barcelona can win a “clean” Champions League, without “scandalous refereeing decisions,” and that winning a Champions League like Barcelona had “would embarrass me.” He added, “Josep Guardiola deserves to win a Champions because he’s a great coach that I respect as a person because he treated me fantastically during the four years I was with him. Yesterday, I didn’t disrespect him, I thought I could use the ‘informal ‘tú’ with him but I have to call him Mr. Josep Guardiola. I respect him a lot as a coach and as a person.”
As for the next game, “we will go without Pepe, who didn’t do anything, without Ramos, who didn’t do anything, and without the coach, who can’t be on the bench… and with a result that is practically impossible to turn around. And if by coincidence we score a goal there and open things up, I’m sure they’ll shut us down once more. They’ll shut us down once more! Today, we saw that we have no possibility (of winning). None.” He then asked some rhetorical questions: “why didn’t they allow us to play against them? Why was Pepe expelled? Why didn’t they blow the four penalties against Chelsea? I don’t know if it’s because they have UNICEF on their shirts, or the power of (Ángel) Villar in UEFA, or if they’re nice guys, but I just don’t understand.”
He’s suspended for the next game, which begs the question, where will Mou sit in the Camp Nou?
And although he seemed to give up any hope of winning the vuelta game during the press conference, to the team he said, “we’re going to fight until the end. There are 90 minutes left to play and we’re not going to give up. We will go to Barcelona to fight for the options that we have left. We’re not going to gift them the semifinals, because we are Madrid.” Yes and yes.
TWENTY ONE. Other notes:
– at the game – Fernando Hierro, Vicente del Bosque (the two of them received applause as they entered the presidential palco), Rafa Nadal with his dad, Mario Vargas Llosa, José Mercé, Hugo Sánchez, Lorenzo Sanz (FP’s predecessor as Madrid president his first time around), and all members of the Quinta del Buitre – Pardeza and Butragueño were in the palco as Madrid staff members, while Míchel, Martín Vásquez and Sanchís were commentating.
– some of the chants heard: “¡Piqué, cabrón, España es tu nación!” (Piqué, bastard, your country is Spain), “¡El puto amo, Mou es el puto amo!” Thanks Pep.
– the team canceled their training session for Thursday, returning today, meaning they’ll only have this session to prepare for Saturday’s game against Zaragoza.
– Pepe, Sergio and Mou will miss the second leg in Barcelona next week.
– Granero and Pepe were tested for drugs after the game.
– Valdés, Piqué and Puyol were victims of laser beams, and an announcement was made over the PA system at the half to tell people to quit it. They need to.
– when Sir Alex Ferguson was seen leaving the Mesón Txistu where he had dinner, some resigned Madrid fans sang to him, “A por ellos, oé,” meaning that they wanted Manchester United to beat Barcelona in the final.
TWENTY TWO. And the aftermath:
It seems that everyone is in a revengeful mood. First up, UEFA announced that it was opening disciplinary cases against Madrid and Barcelona. Madrid’s long list of crimes reads as follows: throwing missiles, pitch invasion, the red card shown to Pepe, the dismissal of coach José Mourinho, the inappropriate statement given by Mou to the media after the match (which apparently violates Article 5 of UEFA’s disciplinary regulations). The case against Barcelona, which seems to be a mere afterthought, regards the red card received by José Pinto for trying to take down Álvaro Arbeloa and Chendo. I guess someone is still pissed that he allowed the goal that lost Barcelona the Copa del Rey, no?
I hope that none of this entails a violation of the parole that Mou is on, after UEFA’s decision to place him on that following the Ajax game (this would add a one-game suspension to whatever punishment is meted). The cases will be heard on May 6.
Then Barcelona announced that they were denouncing Mou to UEFA’s Control and Disciplinary Committee for his statements after the game regarding Barcelona’s 2009 Champions League title, which they believe violated Article 5, sections B and D for “dirtying our prestige, our honor, our history, our relationship with UNICEF that of our fans and of the directors that were present with the winning of the Champions in 2009. Barcelona feels injured.” Funny, I thought the club did a pretty good job at that by themselves, with no outside help! For example, regarding the relationship with UNICEF, they’re the ones that relegated the organization to the back of their jerseys for some cash from a country with a questionable record on human rights.
And finally, Madrid announced that they were denouncing Barcelona for unsportsmanlike behavior during the game, concretely the faking of injuries, with the purpose of inducing the referee to make judgment errors. They have listed four specific actions and provided videos to back up their case: the collision of Pedro with Arbeloa that resulted in a yellow for the latter; Busquets faking a shot to his face after getting involved with Marcelo; Keita shoving Arbeloa at the half, and this video showing that Pepe had not even touched Alves in the play that resulted in his expulsion, but that Alves fell to the ground, writhed as if his life were over, and had to leave the game on a stretcher. Once he saw that Pepe was given a red card, he bounced right back, with no apparent side effects.
Madrid will also try and show that all of these actions, including the constant protests and pressures on the referee, were premeditated, and part of a strategy. They also expressed their complete support for José Mourinho, because he had the right to freedom of speech. Read the official announcement here.