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El Clasico at its Absolute Worst – UEFA CL Semi-Finals Leg 1

April 28, 2011

The game was a disaster. It’s nothing that should be remembered. It definitely WAS NOT a classic. Simply put, the game was such a disappointment and disgrace that even footballers themselves are condemning it. Diving and fighting was such a prevalent part of last night’s match-up – it was as if one wasn’t watching a game between two of the best football teams in the world.

The game started sanely enough. It was apparent that Madrid were going to stick with the ‘defense is the best offense’ strategy, which sent some people scoffing. To quote Rio Ferdinand loosely, “Real Madrid are doing what they have to do in order to win. The last time they played expansive football against Barcelona, they were beaten 5-0.” Barcelona, meanwhile, stuck with their same-old strategy – ‘pass around the ball until a chance to score a goal comes along.’ I cannot deny however, that the first half (sans the fighting) was EXTREMELY BORING. Barcelona spent so much time passing the ball around their own half. Other people think this may be beautiful football, but I beg to disagree. Of course they can pass the ball to each other with accuracy – majority of the Madrid players are waiting along the Madrid half of the pitch for Barcelona’s attack. But yes, to each his own. I digress again furtively that is not the kind of football that I am fond off.

The second half was much more interesting – in a god damn awful way.

Allow me to state that as early as now, despite of the fact that I am a Madridista, I will not be defending my team’s wrongdoings. Marcelo and Di Maria had their share of diving. Ozil played rough (this one’s up for debate actually, as I think that ALL players in the pitch should ALWAYS play rough, and he wasn’t necessarily playing unfairly). Most of the players in white had their fair share of barraging the referee incessantly with complaints as well. Some of Ramos’ actions (eg. picking up Messi abruptly after a fall) may be considered rude. Also, Mourinho is a whole other story (I’ll get to him later).

But in all honesty, Busquets, Pedro and Alves just played dirty. I’m not going to hold back – they were a pathetic excuse for world-class footballers. Slight contact was made on both Busquets and Pedro by Marcelo and Arbeloa respectively during the first half, and they both fell down while clutching their faces. It was apparent, however, that NO CONTACT was made on their faces when several instant replays were shown. What on earth was that? I was severely disappointed and mad with the behavior of these two players, players who clearly aren’t even PLAYING football in actuality. It’s like they were just so desperate to get Real Madrid’s players carded that they would result to diving.

Also, at half-time, scuffles ensued at the mouth of the dug-outs. Until now, I’m not clearly sure of what happened. I’ve seen photos however of a man in a suit (from Real Madrid most probably) grabbing Barcelona goalkeeper Pinto around the neck, and Pinto slapping Arbeloa. The slap resulted in Pinto getting a red card.

During the second half, Ramos was yellow-carded (thus resulting in him missing the next leg at the Camp Nou) for body checking Messi (Messi fell to the ground). However, replays show Messi elbowing Ramos’ legs while the latter was walking away. Messi also commits an intentional handball, but fails to get a rightful yellow card for it.

And Alves. Oh my. Pepe was red-carded for a tackle on Alves that resulted in the latter to fall down, clutching his ankle. Replays, however, show that absolutely NO CONTACT at all was made of Alves’ ankle! Here, look at this carefully. Furthermore, Alves was stretchered off the field, only to return seconds later – PERFECTLY ALL RIGHT – to the game! What on earth was that!? To quote Rio Ferdinand, this time in verbatim, “If you ever see me go off on a stretcher and then run back on play, I give everyone on here the green light to hit me with a two-footed tackle.” There you go. That’s about as unbiased as you can get.

Moreover, can somebody please explain to me how Valdes managed to get himself involved in all the fights that ensued?

Mourinho, of course, contested the referee’s decision on red-carding Pepe. Hell, I also would have! To make matters worse for Real Madrid, Mourinho was sent to the stands by the officials for protesting too much. I am absolutely certain that this was the final nail to Real Madrid’s coffin. The more pivotal one, however, was clearly the sending off of Pepe. Pepe was integral to the defense, and was one of the most reliable men on the pitch for Real Madrid.

But there you go. Jose Mourinho once again ends the game against Barcelona with 10 men. That’s 4/4 now.

Surprisingly, there was actually something amazing that happened in this farce of a match. Messi scored two absolutely brilliant goals, and I would never dream of taking away from him compliments that he rightfully deserves. He was phenomenal. The first goal was pretty much inevitable (goal went through Iker’s legs) while the second was a result of poor defending, most probably due to the fact that the Madrid defense was one man short with Pepe out of the game. To quote Rio Ferdinand once more, “Messi saved that match from being talked about exclusively for all the wrong reasons.

This game was absolutely disgusting to watch. I expected world-class football. I expected fighting and diving, but I did no expect them to fully occupy the match. To cap things off, this El Clasico was the worst football game I have EVER watched.

Madrid will be having their hands full at the Camp Nou next week with Ramos, Pepe, and Jose Mourinho banned from the game. However, as most footballers are fond of saying, anything can happen in football.

Final Score: 2-0 for Barcelona

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