Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Let's have a fair fight rather than cynism

author: Patrick Barclay
source: The Times

date: 5 May 2009
editing: fcbtransfers.blogspot.com

Those fortunate enough to have been in front of our televisions during Barcelona’s 6-2 triumph at the Bernabéu on Saturday evening might have been mistaken, through our purrings with pleasure and whoops of excitement, for antagonists towards Real Madrid.

It would also be an error to deem anti-Chelsea anyone fervently hoping that Pep Guardiola’s scintillating team prevail at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.

Football like Barcelona have been playing this season — and Real were playing when Zinédine Zidane occupied the place in our hearts now devoted to Lionel Messi — edifies and elevates us to the level of the cricket crowd who, during a fiercely contested Ashes series, will rise to salute a visiting player’s fine innings.

If you think this an exaggeration, cast your mind back six years to Old Trafford on the night that the Brazilian Ronaldo was cheered off after scoring the hat-trick that knocked Manchester United out of the Champions League.

So no genuine enthusiast should be ashamed of wanting to see Messi, Xavi Hernández, Andrés Iniesta and the rest collect the trophy in Rome on May 27. Although Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea are riveting sides, Guardiola’s Barcelona, even more than Arsène Wenger’s team or Sir Alex Ferguson’s, represent the ideal of pure football as judged not only by artistic impression — which is in the eye of the beholder — but the number of fouls conceded.

That is why Barcelona had every right to be outraged by the weakness of Wolfgang Stark, the German referee, in dealing with Chelsea at the Nou Camp, where Guus Hiddink’s men committed three times as many fouls as Guardiola’s but picked up the same number of yellow cards (two) and lost an important player, Carles Puyol, for the second leg. Fouls are awarded for a purpose: to punish an intention to cheat. They were never meant to be used tactically, as in the modern game.

To be fair to Hiddink, he did not squeal when one of his South Koreans was cynically chopped down in the 2002 World Cup semi-final by Michael Ballack, the German accepting suspension from the final as the price of preventing a possible equaliser, so he could consistently argue that Barcelona were making too much of their treatment at the hands of Ballack and company last week. But the interests of football demand more skill-friendly refereeing.

Unfortunately for Barcelona, who habitually record low foul counts because they like to get on with the game, refereeing in Europe has become more English than the English in the sense of allowing physical intervention. Uefa should do something about it because football is not wrestling and our game should cherish the precious quality that sets it apart: the opportunity for deftness to overcome power that makes it suitable for people of all sizes without weight classification.

That applies to everyone from Messi, Xavi and Iniesta to the boy (or girl) in the playground. Or should. But Barcelona got a rough deal at the Bridge four years ago — John Terry scored the aggregate winner after Ricardo Carvalho had fouled the goalkeeper, Víctor Valdés, and Pierluigi Collina, Uefa’s favourite referee, ignored protests — and I fear they may be up against more than a very good team this week.

It was always going to be tougher than at the Bernabéu, where the Spanish league’s inferiority to the English was starkly exposed, and even Latin-style officiating might not be enough to see them through. But let’s have a fair fight rather than an exercise in cynicism, because, to the football- lover, kicking, tugging and diving prove nothing.

read the full and original article here


barcan said...

One momment please...and Real were playing when Zidane??? WTF!?? Real have never had a game and a style like Barca not even in franco era...
No team having players like this Barca and such a play...so just fuck off.

rory said...

i don't even mind the weak Real crap...i'm just happy the british papers are going in hard against chelski's bullsh*t tactics. I'd rather lose to a team playing football than beat a team trying to fight a wrestling match. Sadly, chelsea doesn't agree...hopefully we still win, but anything that turns the tide against these shite tactics, i'll take.

FCBarca said...

I like Patrick, typically, although he does veer towards his UK bias often...Here, however, he gave props to Barca (And strangely, to Real as well?)...Anyone with a love for the game know full well that what Chelsea has shown is that they are not interested in the game...Cowards

Charles said...

Great article..I think it is very fair and as much as I dislike real..they were magical the day they defeated man united at Old trafford...and i insist magical...
I hope the referee for this game is Italian or French and its a done deal. I think the best thing that came out of the classico...is the fact that Eto'o didnt score,,,he is going to play out of his mind tomorrow.

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