Respect but revulsion meets Chelsea display
Mork and Mindy man, Robin Williams, would have been more useful than Pep Guardiola in the Dream BoysÃ¢ÂÂ dressing room on Tuesday night.What the perplexed players of the Camp Nou needed was a rousing, desk-standing, pecker-inspiring speech about following their dreams, making hay and seizing carp. And maybe a forceful argument insisting that Ã¢ÂÂWhat Dreams May ComeÃ¢ÂÂ is an avant-garde, thoughtful study of guilt and death. And not a load of sentimentalist tosh. Instead, MessiÃ¢ÂÂs mob may well have received a relentless rant over the lack of referee protection and how it wasnÃ¢ÂÂt fair that they had to play against the most vulgar of sides whose tactics were Ã¢ÂÂCech-Drogba, Drogba-CechÃ¢ÂÂ as Pep complained after the game.
In the first half of the Champions League encounter, it felt as if Barcelona were close to peeing their pants. Their normal fluid, flowing game was strained, passes were being misplaced and confidence was rock-bottom.
It was only in the final 30 minutes when the likes of Dani Alves and AndrÃÂ©s Iniesta pulled themselves together and went with the lip-stiffening did the side play anything like they have been all season. Indeed, if it hadnÃ¢ÂÂt been for that pesky Bojan missing an absolute sitter in injury-time, BarÃÂ§a would have had some reward for their work. Instead it was the clubÃ¢ÂÂs first goalless draw of the season. Over 90 minutes, the Barcelona players crashed into more walls than a Guantanamo Bay prisoner. It was another classic Chelsea display of power and pragmatism and exactly why the club continues to win fans the world over.
Billions spent to produce the kind of performance that a replay-seeking second division side would put up against a top flight club in the FA Cup, as one person noted on a comments board that La Liga Loca read. However, Chelsea failed to grab an away goal with their one chance on goal and this leaves the Catalan press with hopes of a more successful game in Stamford Bridge next week. Ã¢ÂÂWe will go through!Ã¢ÂÂ says SportÃ¢ÂÂs headline. Inside, all their editorial pieces are respectful of ChelseahÃ¢ÂÂs performance, but fairly scathing. Ã¢ÂÂAnti-football won,Ã¢ÂÂ sighed Josep Casanovas. Ã¢ÂÂItÃ¢ÂÂs sad but Chelsea came not to play football but to not lose.Ã¢ÂÂÃ¢ÂÂWeÃ¢ÂÂll win in London,Ã¢ÂÂ agreed his more feisty colleague LluÃÂs MascarÃÂ³, Ã¢ÂÂwith the permission of the ref,Ã¢ÂÂ he quipped. ItÃ¢ÂÂs an opinion shared by the normally sober El PaÃÂs who complain that Ã¢ÂÂthe referee had more respect for the foreign intrusion than the local delicacy.Ã¢ÂÂ
Over in Marca-land, there has been as much coverage of the game as a mid-table clash featuring Mallorca. Which is about a page.
After all, if Florentino PÃÂ©rez isnÃ¢ÂÂt interested in the affair, then nor is Marca. Heaven knows what will happen if SpainÃ¢ÂÂs King of Industry suddenly takes a shine to Ã¢ÂÂLostÃ¢ÂÂ.
Eight page pullouts on the programme, probably. AS half-pretended that the European clash was important to the paper - but only in its relation to SaturdayÃ¢ÂÂs Madrid match - with editor Alfredo RelaÃÂ±o writing that Ã¢ÂÂBarcelona did the attacking, but lacked the flourish.Ã¢ÂÂÃ¢ÂÂThe bad dream would have been completed had Jose Mourinho been in HiddinkÃ¢ÂÂs place,Ã¢ÂÂ chuckled Fabian Ortiz. While there seems to be a sense of outrage in the English comment-o-sphere that Chelsea were a gutless, disgrace to the beautiful game, there is more understanding in Spain in response to the English sideÃ¢ÂÂs parking-the-bus business. However, while Chelsea may have won the advantage in the semi-final clash in Spain, they lost what few friends they had left in la Liga.