Real Madrid 0 - 2 Barcelona: Messi Conquers Mourinho's Cynicism

We’d all be talking about Mourinho again were it not for Messi, a comic book hero on a night when Real Madrid and Barcelona stank the house out.
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We’d all be talking about Mourinho again were it not for Messi, a comic book hero on a night when Real Madrid and Barcelona stank the house out.

We’d all be talking about Mourinho again were it not for Messi, the redeemer on a night when Real Madrid and Barcelona stank the house out.

Talking points. There are plenty of those following last night’s horror show at the Bernabeu. There’s Mourinho making a tool of himself with his hollow post-match bleating about injustice, scandals and conspiracies, a smokescreen put up purely to divert attention away from his s***t-on-a-stick tactics. There’s the irony of the Portuguese moaning about referees, one made all the greater by the fact he currently represents a club that’s had more help from the men in the middle over the years than anyone. And then there’s Real Madrid’s miserable tactics, sly shoulder-barges and deliberate trampling of prostrate opponents, or the simulation of Busquets and Pedro and Barcelona’s persistent referee-bothering.

But for all the Spanish media’s slavering about plots, press conference verbals and impressionable refs with a penchant for the Catalans, it’s still about the football. Just. And in the absence of Andres Iniesta, there’s only Lionel Messi to thank for that.

Kicked, bowled over and barged by Real Madrid’s dogs of war, the Argentinian kept picking himself up, dusting himself down and asking for more. A twinkling diamond atop a s**tpile of Mourinho’s making, he provided the only reminders why we fell in love with this game in the first place, a game that disappeared a little bit further up its own a**e last night.

Even when he was being held partially in check by Pepe, the human wrecking ball, Messi kept probing the Madrid defence, barely giving the ball away, jinking and turning through gaps like a slalom skier on the sheerest of slopes. Guilty at times of hanging on to the ball too long in last week’s Copa del Rey final, he continually brought his team-mates into play here. Helped in his task by Guardiola’s decision to station Villa and Pedro on the flanks and thereby prise open gaps in Madrid’s packed defence, he picked out Xavi at one point with a superb through-ball that almost led to his side’s opening goal.

And when his gangling Portuguese minder, a red card waiting to happen, got himself sent off for putting a sneaky boot in, Messi exploited the extra space ruthlessly. His opening goal was the kind only the sharpest of centre-forwards used to score. The only Barcelona player in the box aside from his supplier Afellay, he darted to the near post, neutralising the six Madrid defenders around him, and stuck out a providential instep.

Then, with Madrid resigned to their fate, their post-match excuses long since at the ready, Messi crystallised Barcelona’s superiority in ten magical seconds, diddling Diarra, playing the cutest give-and-go with Busquets and speeding on to notch another comic-strip goal, one he probably wouldn’t have scored had Carvalho been standing in his path instead of Raul Albiol.

One thing we can be sure of is that if Messi had been wearing a white shirt last night, he’d have been putting in a layman’s shift, curbing his natural instincts, chasing down the ball rather than working wonders with it. We should be thankful that he’s in Guardiola’s hands and not Mourinho’s. And though the day will come when we’ll fast forward the game and go straight to the interviews and press conferences, thanks to Messi and a dwindling band of like-minded entertainers it hasn’t quite arrived yet.

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Messi Reminds Us Why It’s Still Just About the Football

We’d all be talking about Mourinho again were it not for Messi, the redeemer on a night when Real Madrid and Barcelona stank the house out.

Talking points. There are plenty of those following last night’s horror show at the Bernabeu. There’s Mourinho making a tool of himself with his hollow post-match bleating about injustice, scandals and conspiracies, a smokescreen put up purely to divert attention away from his shit-on-a-stick tactics. There’s the irony of the Portuguese moaning about referees, one made all the greater by the fact he currently represents a club that’s had more help from the men in the middle over the years than anyone. And then there’s Madrid’s miserable tactics, sly shoulder-barges and deliberate trampling of prostrate opponents, or the simulation of Busquets and Pedro and Barcelona’s persistent referee-bothering.

But for all the Spanish media’s slavering about plots, press conference verbals and impressionable refs with a penchant for the Catalans, it’s still about the football. Just. And in the absence of Andres Iniesta, there’s only Lionel Messi to thank for that.

Kicked, bowled over and barged by Madrid’s dogs of war, the Argentinian kept picking himself up, dusting himself down and asking for more. A twinkling diamond atop a shitpile of Mourinho’s making, he provided the only reminders why we fell in love with this game in the first place, a game that disappeared a little bit further up its own arse last night.

Even when he was being held partially in check by Pepe, the human wrecking ball, Messi kept probing the Madrid defence, barely giving the ball away, jinking and turning through gaps like a slalom skier on the sheerest of slopes. Guilty at times of hanging on to the ball too long in last week’s Copa del Rey final, he continually brought his team-mates into play here. Helped in his task by Guardiola’s decision to station Villa and Pedro on the flanks and thereby prise open gaps in Madrid’s packed defence, he picked out Xavi at one point with a superb through-ball that almost led to his side’s opening goal.

And when his gangling Portuguese minder, a red card waiting to happen, got himself sent off for putting a sneaky boot in, Messi exploited the extra space ruthlessly. His opening goal was the kind only the sharpest of centre-forwards used to score. The only Barcelona player in the box aside from his supplier Afellay, he darted to the near post, neutralising the six Madrid defenders around him, and stuck out a providential instep.

Then, with Madrid resigned to their fate, their post-match excuses long since at the ready, Messi crystallised Barcelona’s superiority in ten magical seconds, diddling Diarra, playing the cutest give-and-go with Xavi and speeding on to notch another comic-strip goal, one he probably wouldn’t have scored had Carvalho been standing in his path instead of Raul Albiol.

One thing we can be sure of is that if Messi had been wearing a white shirt last night, he’d have been putting in a layman’s shift, curbing his natural instincts, chasing down the ball rather than working wonders with it. We should be thankful that he’s in Guardiola’s hands and not Mourinho’s. And though the day will come when we’ll fast forward the game and go straight to the interviews and press conferences, thanks to Messi and a dwindling band of like-minded entertainers it hasn’t quite arrived yet.