AC Milan v Barcelona: The Catalans Continue To Butcher Their Brilliance

Cultured if not combative, Barcelona continue to attempt to revolutionise football to an unconscionably sanitised proportion.
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An impressive 3-2 win over AC Milan at the Giuseppe Meazzawas tempered by more needless tomfoolery displayed by Barcelona

Even when advertising their flaws Barcelona were comfortable against a physical AC Milan side. A worthy achievement, especially since the Rossoneri fought back twice to draw level in an eventual 3-2 defeat. But the passing positives are overawed by needless negatives for Pep Guardiola’s hypocritical heroes; the cultured Catalans irk.

Billed as a grudge match between Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Guardiola after the former’s recent comments in his autobiography I, Zlatan (what does Alan Partridge have to say about that?), it was destined to be an overstated sideshow. Ibrahimovic was actually excellent in a big game, but even that rare feat was besmirched by his opponents’ unsavoury tendencies.

When a surfer’s riding the crest of the wave in front of an assembled audience, their aura is such that the crowd are in a hypnotic trance, marvelling, oohing and aahing. They can’t criticise any errors because of the gripping grandeur of this faux demi-god. Pundits and fans are like this with Barça (and Spain too).

Lionel Messi is painted as a paradigm of football yet while his talent is immaculate, he does dive and he does bemoan referees. Although the former is a lamentable practise, the latter isn’t thanks to the b******s in black (or yellow or pink or orange – sigh)’s growing incompetence. But Barça hound a referee extravagantly and expertly because they populate the myth that they must remain untouched. Ergo they are not criticised by their bedazzled disciples, because they embody the ‘beautiful game’.

After England’s semi-miraculous victory over Spain, Cesc Fábregas complained about how negative they were. This is a Catalan symptom otherwise diagnosed as ‘bitterness’. Xavi has trotted out similar disdain before whilst clutching a bunch of sour grapes, and his new teammate exhibited this form even at Arsenal. Cockily delivering lectures from his high horse in what always appeared to be an audition to stress his suitability for a return to the Camp Nou; world class, short, mouthy and resentful in defeat.

Yesterday evening they re-affirmed their weak spot. An oncoming tackle to a culé is like a leper approaching, and if contact is made the effect is devastating. Almost life threatening. Especially if you’re Sergio Busquets.

Busquets was such a nonentity at the San Siro that you forgot that he had been selected until someone grazed him. Writhing in simulated agony, he augmented the retrospective appreciation of that Paul Scholes tackle dished out to him two-and-a-half-years ago in Rome.

Alexis Sánchez then arrived to execute another of his extravagant dives, which the referee unfathomably bought. Or maybe it wasn’t unfathomable. Wolfgang Stark, fresh from creating carnage at the Bernabéu semi-final last season in favour of Blaugrana, can’t conceal his closet fixation for Pep, Xavi, Leo et al.

Abidal had a tumour removed from his lung this year, which automatically enables him to masquerade as someone untouchable.

It would certainly legislate for the award of Mark van Bommel’s own goal despite intended target Xavi being offside, and then the visitors’ captain diving yet winning a penalty. Alberto Aquilani was the last man when he conceded the ‘foul’, yet was only yellow carded – Stark had acknowledged his own doubt by not meting out the maximum punishment.

A rare decision since Barça optioned their influential shtick on the pitch whilst that other paragon of perfection Guardiola animatedly demanded a red card off it. Irked by the feign agony routine, Milan then started to inflict some brutal challenges to remind brittle Barcelona of what defines pain.

Maybe José Mourinho wasn’t that outlandish when he speculated on the good fortune his bête noire are invariably afforded. The blackout over Barcelona’s iffy luck further illustrates how their brand of football has beguiled their sycophantic audience into a lucid reverie. It’s brainwashing Sir Alex Ferguson would love to exact on Her Majesty’s Press.

Then there’s one of football’s Ringo Starrs, Eric Abidal, who has somehow engineered a successful career at a massive club despite glaring shortcomings as far back as the 2006 World Cup. Last night Robinho failed to punish his dithering but then the one-time Fresh Prince of Fratton Park, Kevin P Boateng, did with aplomb.

Abidal however, had a tumour removed from his lung this year, which automatically enables him to masquerade as someone untouchable. Many football folk would have been pleased to see him lift the European Cup final as Barça captain in a commendable gesture of goodwill, but it shouldn’t mask how egregious he is.

Barcelona really aren’t that engaging either. In fact, their Tiki-taka style is quite boring. Alan Hansen, highlighting BBC football pundits’ detachment from reality, stated how Spain were the ‘most exciting side’ at the 2010 World Cup. The three other semi-finalists trumped them in the excitement stakes, and parallels are rising at club level now that Bayern Munich and Manchester City are appealingly gung-ho.

Forget about Barcelona taking on Stoke City on a cold Tuesday night, send Madrid over to obliterate the hairy Potters in Movember. Mourinho can flick that f*****g annoying cap off of Tony Pulis’ head too as his free-flowing and aggressive side use a blowtorch to go through the Potteries' butter, as opposed to Barça’s slow yet sharp knife.



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