Barcelona won the first leg 2-1 after dominating possession and could have scored more than they did. The header from Eto’o sealed it. So that should have been the end of it with all the focus on March 7.
Well, this is Barcelona versus Chelsea. The clash which has developed into the biggest game in club football. Of course there was more.
How do you say cheating in Catalan? Can Messi be suspended for acting? Barcelona is a cultural city with many great theatres and this boy has learned very well. He’s learned play-acting.
Of course he forgot, as Jonathan Stevenson from the BBC points out:
It is only 17 days since English football widely condemned Blues winger Arjen Robben for theatrically diving to get Liverpool keeper Jose Reina sent off in a key Premiership encounter. There is little doubt that Robben’s acting was greater than Messi’s, yet Mourinho accused Reds boss Rafael Benitez of sour grapes for bringing up the incident in his post-match analysis.
Step back in time at this juncture. Chelsea was down after the first leg. In a few minutes of inspirational football in which they caught Barcelona napping, Chelsea capitalised and took the tie away from Barcelona. Did Barcelona fans cry over the fact that Barcelona dominated possession for much of the two matches last year and still lost?
Step back further now. Mourinho attacked the referee Anders Frisk of talking to Barca coach Frank Rijkaard at half-time in Chelsea’s 2-1 first-leg defeat at the Nou Camp last year. This followed Frisk announcing his decision to retire from the game because he had received death threats, and Mourinho was fined and banned for two games for his comments. So in that light, the comments which directly implicate the referee Terge Hauge of wrong doing were unwarranted.
Even if Messi did play act to an extent (if he did, we can never be sure either way) isn’t it a part of football. Players from most teams do it despite the rules hoping not to be caught. I do not see why such a big deal has to be made out of it.
Even if it was a gross error from the referee, aren’t errors part of the game? Isn’t it all about facing adversity and triumphing or at least trying to triumph in the face of it? I can understand Mourinho trying to make as much of an issue out of this as he can. There is still one match to go. So the more he tries to show the loss was undeserving, the more he can avoid his players from going into a shell or thinking negatively. He did it last year and his players came out triumphant.
What I do not understand is why fans, who act neutral, need to do it. Chelsea and English Premier League fans who wanted Chelsea to win have been speaking loudly over the red card since it happened. The attitude will not deny Barcelona any thing. But a better attitude and applauding Barcelona for playing well could have probably meant these fans themselves getting more respect.