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Barça must cut theatrics if they want to go down in history

Barcelona’s 2-0 win against Real Madrid may underline the Catalans’ quality as a world football force, but its players are doing the club and the sport a disservice with their constant attempts to trick referees.


There are plenty of skills young players learn at Barcelona’s La Masia youth centre, and which are then refined at senior level at the club. Tight, triangular passing; quick movement off the ball into space; keeping possession of the ball; respect for the great institution they are a part of. And, you might add, after Wednesday’s Champions League semifinal first leg against Real Madrid: writhing on the floor like a hammy actor when tackled by an opponent; clutching their face when a rival’s hand goes anywhere near their upper body; and generally doing everything possible to get the other team’s players booked or sent off.

This is the contradiction that Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona side offers. Few would argue that over the last three years it has been the world’s outstanding team in terms of results and quality, attacking play. Barcelona take as much pride in their flowing style as they do in their packed trophy cabinet. Més que un club is their motto – more than a club. And more than results, you might add.

But as Pedro Rodríguez collapsed to the ground, hands to his face, after Álvaro Arbeloa had touched him in the chest during Wednesday’s game, you had to wonder how much Barcelona do in fact value the style in which they go about their business. And when Sergio Busquets -now known as much for his cynical, yet infantile histrionics as his substantial talent- pulled a similar stunt, the doubts gathered in my mind.

However much José Mourinho’s own predictable, post-match histrionics tainted the reputations of himself and Real Madrid, it was the way Barça play-acted their way through this tie that left the sourest taste, even though their 2-0 victory was fully deserved, in purely “footballing” terms.

Busquets and Pedro are not the only offenders in the team. Dani Alves appeared to be at death’s door as he was stretchered off after the tackle that saw Pepe harshly sent off, before jogging back to action minutes later. Up front, David Villa often looks for the penalty rather than the goal, while the extraordinarily gifted Andrés Iniesta (who did not play on Wednesday) is not averse to making a meal of innocuous challenges.

So do they learn these dark arts at the youth academy? I like to think not. And pragmatists will argue that with so much at stake in today’s game and with managerial anti-heroes like Mourinho to battle, you’ve got to do a bit of writhing around. But Guardiola is not a hard-hearted pragmatist. One of the joys of following his side is that it has done things its own way and he has, for the most part, been a low-key, dignified ambassador for the club.

And as long as he allows his players to hoodwink referees and violate the footballing spirit he claims to be inspired by, this Barça side will go down as a great group of footballers, but anything but a great group of sportsmen.

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Published: Apr 28 2011
Category: Sports
Republication: Creative Commons, non-commercial
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11 Comments for “Barça must cut theatrics if they want to go down in history”

  1. theatrics?… Do you see “la final dde la copa del rey” past week? (Arbeola deserved sended off due stamps Villa when was on the floor, and more dirty tricks…)… Playing with teams who play dirty is a huge risk for players. Yesterday If Alves doesn’t keep the leg before impact, Pepe breaks it… Marcelo deserved send off too… he stamp two times Pedro when was on the floor in front of R Madrid Area. Sergio Ramos deserved too to be send off for two yellow cards (first one related to one hand in first time). If you play to play dirty and renounce to have the possession of the ball, you are more prone to finish matches with 10 or 9. Mou is a great strategist, maybe the best one, but as a pure football coach I think is not the top. Always play at limit. Some times playing at limit ends with no desired results.
    Is true that maybe some Barça players did not very well exaggerating sometimes. But if they do not do in this manner (as not do in the final of the Copa del Rey). Reffer allowes dirty play, and only who seek destroy are benefit at the end. I apologize for my bad and poor command of English.

  2. THEATRICS??? Is this all you can say after a total domination of the Catalans, in every possible way? Excuse me but it is at least as laughable as Mourinho’s rants after Guardiola, the refs, the UEFA and even UNICEF. Please.
    The match was tense, but this is the only way your team could ever reach to 0-0 with Barça. Otherwise: la Manita. Remember? Real Madrid lacks of tactics, intelligence, style and personality, and without any doubt I woud add you guys, team and supporters just lack of CLASS.

  3. When real play badly no one talk about it when it comes about barca every one talk about it i remmber ronaldo push barca coach in first match in la liga no one talk about it

  4. Pepe Got the BALL!!!
    Still think its A RED??
    Alves deserve an oscar

    Nice article, you’re pointing out the shameful fact, which makes 2 of Messi goal less attractive… Only beside Barca fan..

    Facts are:
    Vs Chelsea 2009
    Vs Inter 2010
    Vs Arsenal 2011
    Vs Real Madrid 2011

  5. Real MD theatrics hindered their chances of winning that game and coming out of the Bernabeu with diginity. You guys really need to get it together , its no fun competing against a desperate team .
    Maybe you need actual motto by which you can all live by rather than a expression

  6. the side mou doesn’t remember… well, I think the side he has no interest to remember… as usual 😉 … Is a genuine manipulator. From 10 years ago is doing similar strategies in all championships and matchs he has take place… Lie, confuse, cry, raise false or biased claims, inflate errors, prompt “rivals”… and a lot of other dirty tactics, in and out of pitch…

    Automatic Google translation from spanish newspaper… (other side about his complains)

    In addition remember that this year Lyon played with 10 againts Madrid… 😉

    If Alves doesn’t away the leg just before impact, Pepe broke it. Remember too that marcelo, sergio ramos and arbeola could be send off if refer w

  7. Ricard, Mundo Deportivo is not a newspaper, is a pamphlet for fanatics. Besides, this article is only pointing out one fact that nobody’s mentioning, nothing to do with Mourinho whatsoever.

  8. Agrione, I talk about facts exposed in article, not about opinions… And facts tell us that mou only talks about 1/2 of truth (his truth)… As usual.

    And another fact is that it has hard disputes with almost all coaches from leagues and teams where he has coached. Sometimes seems a poor fellow (mal compañero) .

    Here there is a video about some referees decisions help 😉 mou in past champions leage… Even againt barça in semifinal last year.

  9. The theatrics certainly weren’t pleasant, but another way to loom at it is that they helped to get the job done against a group of players (and a coach) who is equally apt in the performance arts. Don’t kid yourself, Barcelona, and in that regard I would highlight Busquets, Alves and to a lesser degree Pedro as repeat offenders, are not the only ones who do this. Ever witnessed any of the countless times CR has gone down without any contact induced by his opponents? What about di Maria yesterday? How often did he dive? Or since the special one had to mention the 2009 semifinal. Who will forget superfeatherweight performance of the likes of a Drogba, Malouda or Anelka in the penalty area.

    Of course, the Italian teams in particular are also well known for often adding a personal dramatic note to the game. It may just be a fleeting impression, but it does seem to happen more often south of Alps than in the northern leagues.

    Finally, to get back to my point about Alves getting the job done after what was clearly a bookable, but most likely not a red-worthy offense by Pepe. When Mourinho opens his mouth to lash out at Barca, the refs, the whole world it seems… I don’t think for a minute that he is all that sincere in those thoughts. Maybe he even believes some of the drivel that spews from his mouth. But certainly he knows that all this trash talk goes a long way in terms of playing mind games with your opponent. Well, all these gestures, all the words of disrespect…they are all part of his game plan to defeat an overall better team.

  10. adebayor, marcelo, sergio ramos and maybe arbeola, deserved a send off as well… See the final de la copa del rey from last week, you see who was real theatrics… It seems only mou teams are allowed to do teather… This guy -mou- is a cynical and hypocritical one. It has doing that from the begining of his career.

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