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Real Madrid, Barcelona, Orwell and the evil conspiracy

Don’t worry about the games between Spain’s biggest football rivals, the weird post-match analysis and spooky propaganda from both camps is entertainment in itself.


Let’s forget, for the moment, the fact that Real Madrid and Barcelona had an absorbing 1-1 draw in their liga meeting on Saturday.

Instead, let’s look inside the heads of two of the night’s protagonists: Barça midfielder Xavi Hernández and Real Madrid coach José Mourinho.

“Everyone could see that Barça were the better team, that we totally dominated. Although that’s not so great given that it was them that gave us the ball and them that shut down at the back in their own stadium.”

This was the verdict of Xavi after the game. He had a point in that Barcelona did dominate possession, during one phase enjoying 79 percent of it (according La Sexta television’s onslaught of statistics). But what Xavi is forgetting is that despite this glut of possession, Madrid looked equally likely to score.

Barça’s midfield mastermind makes a habit of interpreting games that Barcelona don’t win in this manner. Like some kind of Orwellian football spin-doctor, he tells us that the result that we just witnessed wasn’t really the result we just witnessed. Actually, he tells us, Barcelona won, because they play such fine-looking football.

It’s a little like when he explained how Mourinho’s Champions League triumph with Inter Milan last season didn’t have the same value as Barcelona’s in 2009. “Inter won the Champions League but no one talks about them,” was his verdict. They’re wrong because they don’t play like us, is the logic. And this belief in the Gospel of high-possession tiki-taka is at the heart of Xavi’s Newspeak. For him, the other holy texts (such as counter-attacking pim-pam-pum) have no merit.

In the same vein, Xavi actually complained once after a liga game that an opposing midfielder had violated the spirit of the game by marking him too tightly.

While Xavi inhabits a parallel universe where Barça always win – even when they don’t – for Mourinho, things are a little more complicated. His is a universe where giant lizards orbit the Earth in a spaceship, using super-advanced scientific techniques to brainwash those in charge of UEFA and the Spanish league to make sure Real Madrid, or whichever team Mourinho is coaching, never wins.

“When they were playing against 11, they had problems, but when they were playing against 10, they had the chance to do what they like doing,” observed Madrid’s coach of the sending off of Raúl Abiol in the 51st minute. “Once again I see an absolutely incredible difference when it comes to refereeing.”

Dani Alves, he reasoned, should have been sent off for a challenge on Marcelo. What he didn’t mention, however, was a more clearcut Barcelona appeal for a penalty when Iker Casillas brought David Villa down. But don’t worry about that, this is Planet Mou, where, if he doesn’t win, it’s due to the cosmic conspiracy.

The expulsion of Albiol, Mourinho calmly explained, represents a massive, fiendishly planned, disadvantage going into Wednesday’s Copa del Rey final. “If normally we have one day less than them to rest, this time we have the same days, but we played 45 minutes with 10 men…I’d love to play against Barça with 11. But that, both in Spain and in Europe, is mission impossible.”

On the basis of Saturday’s game, I wouldn’t like to guess who will win Wednesday’s final. But if Real Madrid lose, Mourinho’s greatest challenge will be to avoid blaming the evil reptiles up above, or whoever else he thinks is responsible. The impressive thing is, he’s already got his excuses ready.

If Real Madrid and Barcelona share the spoils of their four-game series over the coming couple of weeks, perhaps Xavi and Mourinho can go head-to-head with a kind of post-game-analysis debate. Each keeps up his brand of propaganda about the games until the other surrenders or runs shrieking from the room. Just a thought.

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Published: Apr 18 2011
Category: Iberoblog
Republication: Creative Commons, non-commercial
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1 Comment for “Real Madrid, Barcelona, Orwell and the evil conspiracy”

  1. Christopher Gamble

    Well it was a very interesting half-way stage! Its will be FUN!

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