El Classico More Like La Abominacion

Many who don’t follow the beautiful game intensely would still have made time to catch a game of this magnitude with two teams as highly rated and with such cherished histories as Real Madrid and Barcelona. This game should have been a spectacle not only for the hard core fans of both sides but also for the lovers of football around the world and even for the casual observers. Instead we witnessed a spectacular disaster and innumerable examples of everything that is wrong with the game.

In fairness, Barcelona didn’t do much wrong except for the awful playacting by Pedro, Busquets, and Alves. I thought Guardiola learnt from his past mistakes and played a very safe game tactically. His teams have struggled in big away games when they have tried to attack. Pep kept 6-7 men in his own half and they just knocked the ball around inviting Real to come at them. A defensive but prudent approach that paid dividends at the end.

Mourinho, probably inspired by Wenger’s tactics of attacking Barca late in the game, kept his players back as the game meandered along. The first half was a pedestrian performance from both teams not only in terms of the speed of the game but also the quality of football. It’s hard to recall a single moment where the technique or skills of the players stood out. The highlights package during the breather most likely contained some dives, playacting, and rash fouls.

It can also be said that Guardiola outfoxed Mourinho by eliminating counter-attacking opportunities. One could also say the Real manager was extremely one dimensional and didn’t have a plan B when his team failed to get counter-attacks going!!

As far as two –legged ties go, I believe the onus is always on the home side to show some initiative. The Dark Lord of Anti-football failed miserably and his rough tactics backfired when his pit bull Pepe was sent off for an over the top, studs-up challenge. Alves’ antics were shameful but it’s hard to argue against the card. Real got away with a lot of rough play in the Copa Del Rey final and one would think it had to come back and haunt them at some time.

I wonder what the Winner Worshipers and Glory Hunting Apologists have to say about Mourinho now. Of course, the second leg is still to come but it will take more than the biggest upset in the history of the game if this Real manager is to win by two goals or more at the Camp Nou.

To my mind, the managers at the big clubs have a responsibility not only to their fans and club but also to the game in general. They cannot send such a talented bunch of players out with such abominable tactics. I criticized Mourinho when he won with Inter and I am going to criticize him now when he flops at Real. People like the Dark Lord set a horrible example for other managers and they tarnish the image of the game. Imagine if someone who doesn’t watch the football is introduced to the sport through such a game after all the hype and hoopla! Will that person ever watch football again!? Mourinho and his ilk might win some trophies and get short-term gratification for glory hunters or billionaires with new toys, but they hurt a lot of people who love the game.

It will be interesting to see whether the bosses at Real, renowned for their lack of patience with the managers, keep the Dark Lord in charge for the next season. Surely no one now fails to understand why they came to Wenger, a manager who hasn’t won a trophy for six years, before they went to Jose. Earlier this season I did an article saying Mourinho was jealous of Arsene and such games show why.

Thankfully, Messi produced a moment of magic that will stay in the memories of football lovers for a long, long time.

The events after the sending off also put into perspective Arsenal’s performance against Barcelona. Way too many fans lost the plot after that game as the bile and hatred directed towards the manager and some players reached new heights. Can someone tell me why Real didn’t have any leaders on the pitch? Where was the winning mentality? Why did they crumble after going down to ten men? Where was the commanding voice that can supposedly be bought by buying proven players? Barcelona didn’t really threaten the Madrid goal when it was 11-v-11 so why did the red card change the game so much?

Earlier I had mentioned that Arsenal were really unlucky to draw Barca in the Champions League, undoubtedly the best team in the world at the moment. If it had been Bayern, Schalke, or Real, the Gunners would have had a great chance of going through. If you pause and think about it, Arsenal are probably in the top four or five teams in the world right now. Not the best, certainly a lot to improve on, but really far from being a disgraceful shambles as many flippant fans like to believe.

To end on a lighter note, just imagine the Tiny Totts (disdainfully dismantled by Real) taking on Barca. Now that would be a spectacle.

89 Responses to El Classico More Like La Abominacion

  1. Domhuaille MacMathghamhna says:

    Superb blog Desi and your Dark Lord analogy is perfect. Our shit-headed Gloomer and Doomer fanboys whine and moan for Wenger’s head but had RVP been on the end of the pass that Bendtner had against Barca at the Nou Camp even with 10 men, we’d be in the semi-final against Real . No team has beaten Barca like we did at the Emirates nor has any other EPL team been in the top 4 for 15 years straight….not Manure,Cheatski, Shitty, the Tiny Totts or Liverpool.
    Real are what’s wrong with ¨modern¨ Football…no cohesiveness, full of egos, negative tactics, sacks of money but inconsistent, playing the manager revolving door, stockpiling good players who never get a game, poor attitudes on and off the pitch and the list goes on.
    I remember the Di Stefano/Puskas era where they had class, home-grown players, pride and a winning mentality but that is long-gone…thanks to their Board and its spend to win mentality!

    • slimshady says:

      Lol, no disrespect m8 but if you “remember the Di Stefano/Puskas era” then I’m pretty impressed that you can make it online lol 😛

      • Irish Desi Gooner says:

        Haha slimshady,

        It’s rare that I laugh when reading something online, but that really cracked me up!

        Good work as always Desi.

      • Domhuaille MacMathghamhna says:

        Slimshady…..I managed to struggle over to my laptop with the aid of my walker, plugged in my hearing aid, put on my cokebottle spectacles, put on my wrist supports and just was able to write my blog response.
        I remember officiating the WC champion English team in 1967 during a tour of my country as well. I also remember officiating Pele in an exhibition game and Beckenbauer,Kruyff and other top champions in the NASL so I guess age has its perks. I enjoy having a laugh at my expense once in awhile but until you see players like DiStefano and Puskas perform their magic, you can’t pretend to appreciate the likes of Messi and Ronaldo. The biggest difference between them and the past greats is not only money but personal pride and love for Football. Messi has it,Ronaldo is still looking for it.

  2. arsene-al says:

    Haha I swear that last bit was spot on. I was thinking just that, how come people are so quick to jump on our asses when we lose and yet what should supposedly be the best or second best team in the world comes short its all fine and dandy. When a team of literally billions of euros running around on a pitch comes short, whereas a team on a shoe-string budget actually manages to beat barca, doesn’t get questioned to the point of agony, it really puts things in perspective

  3. jakarta_1986 says:

    Nice post desi..watching el real playing is really kind of boring..but barca without messi are not special..i think arsenal might be top 5 club in europe..but arsenal still lack of winning mentality and experience in BPL games..the game against newcastle, liverpool, bolton are really frustating me and broke my mood after the stupid lost..wenger must cut the deadwood in this team and buy some real proven players..it’s really painful to see manure v barca in CL final..as i hate those clubs alot..sigh

  4. JP says:

    Real Madrid beat Barca and won a trophy last week.

    • desigunner says:

      Yeah a domestic cup in a two team country. And that too after some horrible football and an insane number of fouls.

      That’s the problem with trophy-based analysis and opinions. There is no perspective whatsoever. Do you really think if this Arsenal team had been in the current Italian league or German league they would not have won some trophies? Would that have made champions out of players like Denilson and Almunia?

      I don’t have a problem with opinions/criticism of the manager or the players. But when the analysis is distorted by the trophy angle it is hard to accept it.

      • mike in africa says:

        it’s simple to dismiss it as a “domestic cup in a two team country”… the reality is it’s a difficult and a coveted trophy; where teams such as sevilla, athletic bilbao and valencia really give a go at it.

        do you know when was the last time barca and real meet in the final of copa?

  5. JP says:

    Also it was not so much unlucky that we drew Barca, we took the opposition for granted in the group stages and paid the price. Another bad decision???? Maybe we could have had a easier route?

    • desigunner says:

      Yes it could have been. It could also have been different if the ref had given a stone-walled penalty for a foul against Vela in Portugal. Small differences. But I agree, it’s largely the fault of the manager and the players that we finished second in the group.

      Drawing Barca was a separate issue. A one in four chance. I’d say it was a bit unlucky.

      • highaimer says:

        why do you class this as unlucky?

        should we not be able to beat them? what you are saying sounds like a defeatist mentality.

        I for one was disappointed with Arsenal because they did not truly believe they could beat barca even though luck was trying to help them in both matches.

        The first leg should have been enough to boost their morale for the second one. That in itself would have been a winning mentality, don’t you think?

        If you are fearful then you leave yourself open to defeat. That is where negativity lives; in your fear.

      • desigunner says:

        I think you are confused.

        When you get the toughest team in the draw it is definitely unlucky. That has nothing to do with mentality. Arsenal gave everything in that game and would have made it really close but for the ref. Certainly closer than Real will get over two legs.

        It’s amusing how many people use words they just don’t understand based on assumptions that have no connection to reality.

  6. JP says:

    I really respect your views Desi, but I don’t know where you stand on how to make the team better at times. Do you support new player signings? Do we need to get rid of certain players or not? And who? Or do you believe coaching changes will transform the current lot into champions?

    • desigunner says:

      Good questions.

      I often try to point out that nothing in this world is black & white. It’s not that I worship Wenger and don’t like any criticism of the man. Nor do I have a high opinion of some of the current players.

      I am in favor of changes. I am in favor of improving the team in any and every way possible. That is why this is a blog that has talked about various issues like bringing in a sports psychologist, improving the medical team, bringing in a defence coach, working on tactics, etc. I don’t talk about new players that often because many others do so all the time.

      One problem that I do have with some fans is that their opinions have an inherent assumption. Unfortunately, they don’t realize it. For instance, buying a couple of players can certainly improve the team. But it does not necessarily mean Arsenal will win stuff by buying a couple of players. So why spend all the time talking about that? And if people do want do that why not spend time collecting facts and relevant details rather than forming superficial opinions?

      I think there are some fundamental issues that need to be addressed if Arsenal are to win major trophies. Those who give it some thought will realize that such an opinion is also a criticism of the manager and could be considered a rather damning one.

      In that regard I’m in a difficult spot. Those who support the manager don’t like some of my articles because I criticize Wenger’s work and that of his staff and players. On the other hand those who are always trying to find something to criticize often don’t agree with me because I try to look at the positives whenever possible.

      As I said – nothing is black & white. I won’t be surprised if many others had similar doubts as yours. Hope that clarifies my position.

  7. AcGooner says:

    Good point, JP. But to be honest Moles (Shakhter Donetsk) were very good in our group.

  8. apollo says:

    I read your articles every time and I really love your knowledge of the game and its tactics but you go overboard defending Wenger too much. Wenger could have won two or three cups since 2007/2008 season, if not of his stubbornness and his desire to prove people wrong. He deserves to be criticized, so stop defending him all the time.

    • Waleed says:

      He is not stubborn, and he has no desire to prove people wrong. It’s only the ignorant english media that don’t respect Wenger. Wenger only faces so much opposition to his ways in England because the way his teams play football goes completely against the traditional English way. A lot of people don’t understand what he’s done and what he’s doing. The people who know and understand the game, they get it. And Wenger has their support.

  9. highaimer says:

    Hang on a second people, how is it us Arsenal fans, who have nothing to play for now, are critisizing mourinho?

    Are we seriously that desparate now?
    He beat them last week and won a cup, we beat them but still got knocked out and we’re on our high horse because their team cost more than ours? The guy is a trophy machine and thought his tactics would breed the same results as last week. We did not get ONE SHOT ON TARGET when we tried to play like that at Barcelona.

    Madrid battered spurs whereas we threw away two leads against them and we feel we have a leg to stand on?

    It was a fiery match last night but, look, both teams showed a rivalry passion that I WOULD LOVE arsenal to show when playing spurs. Plus, the Catalugna were not the aggressors and Barca played REAL/super patient football. That which we obviously aspire to and also they have the greatest player to ever walk the planet.

    Please stop saying shoe string budget, please, you guys make no sense, the way we are run is a choice we, as a club, have made. It can not be used as an excuse to cover the many issues we need to fix from mentality, playing staff, tactics and coaching staff.

    We are so ready to laugh at other teams failures while those who are deluded are always making excuses for our own.

    The reason why i am saying this is because all you have to do is look at some of those shitty players at united going to the champs final AGAIN and in Hernandez’s first season he is set to achieve more than our whole squad has in six years! Tell me that BS like this don’t hurt you…

    Not every person who is not up Wengers rear end wants him out also; All we want is positive and effective change to make arsenal a top force again – the current regime will never make us the ultimate team as some people are so brainwashed into thinking it will.

    • Waleed says:

      We beat Barcelona too. It doesn’t matter if it yeilded a trophy or not. We beat them in 90 minutes and did it playing an attacking game. We did not rely on defending and fouling and physical play.

      And we did not go out to defend at Barcelona. We just couldn’t attack very well and thus were on the back foot for the first half. Wenger didn’t play defensive players, he didn’t play fullbacks as wingers and central defenders in midfield.
      We would have managed shots on goals and we might even have won the tie had the ref not sent RvP off. So you really are painting a false picture by saying we didnt’ even get a shot on target. We played half the game with 10 men.

      Money is an issue, even if you want to avoid it. Can you imagine us spending 200 million like Real did two summeres ago? No it doesn’t mean that because we spend less we are allowed to underachieve, but it does fly in the face of those who are always calling for spending and for Wenger to change his policies.

      United are a good team, and if we had as easy draws as they did we might also have reached the final. Winning 2-0 against Shalke isn’t exactly the pinnacle of footballing achievement.
      How far you go in a cup competition doesn’t really matter. It only matters if you win it.

      And Mourinho deserves to be criticized. Why not? He is all about winning at all costs (what I dislike about him) and when he doesn’t even win he just looks like an idiot.
      If honestly we start playing like Mourinho’s teams and start winning things I would not enjoy it one bit. I want us to win but playing the right way and playing the Arsenal way.

    • desigunner says:

      That ‘no shot on goal’ is one of the most mischievous/malicious slants I have seen used to a twist the facts of a game.

      People forget Arsenal actually had scored a goal in that game! Doesn’t matter how many shots Madrid had they got spanked 5-0 at the Camp Nou. Arsenal were one goal away from progressing. Can’t say the same about Real.

      That doesn’t change the fact that Barca deserved to go through. They were the better side and I believe any team will need a lot of luck to get past a team with Messi over two legs.

      • Prince says:

        Oh come on Desi, we didnt score a goal they scored it for us. I have 2 agree with Xavi when he sed we made no attempt to play football.. They took us apart 11-11 and did even worse 11-10. We weren’t unlucky, we were simply not good enough. Our captain was crap, our best player(Nasri) made only 2 meaningful runs, our wonderkid (Wilshere) was the only gunner still playing after 90 mins and our manager made some lucklusture subs and poor starting line-up (Seriously Rosicky over AA23 and Bendtner before Chamakh?) Then again our fringe are pretty lucklusture aren’t they? We lack a winning mentality coz the players are so used to losing apart from ofcourse Cesc, RVP and Wilshere(Reserve double winning team).. We dont need losing established players, we need someone who gets pained whenever we lose. Someone who hates losing. That will instill some ‘win’ into the boys. Who says manure dnt play beautiful football?? Nani and Rooney and Giggs and even Hernandez play very good and MEANINGFUL passes. We get the ball and its ‘give it to Cesc and let him think of something’ and whenever he cant(He”s human and runs out of ideas sometimes) we criticize him for not being ‘what he used to’. Thats why we suffer so much when he’s not playing. again we waste our talents. We have probably the best young Mexican forward in Vela but Hernandez seemz better coz he has so many chances. If Wenger gave Vela a chance next season, all people labelling him a flop would be praising him. Wenger should definately stay but he should change the tactics and get rid of dead wood and the cups are ours. IN ARSENE WE TRUST… GOONERS FOR LIFE

      • highaimer says:

        to your reply to me above…

        1. So the fact we allowed arrogance and complacency to creep in our game and came second in our group makes us unlucky? – we should have won our group. FACT not an assumption.

        2. The players were saying that they wanted revenge on Barca and bring on anybody. Van persie said this and even Theo. They got their wish come true. FACT not an assumption.

        3. The ‘no shot on target’ FACT is only used to illustrate how our team should do better. Barcelona are the best but why is it that Arsenal are always vulnerable to that stupid decision from the ref? It is because they don’t do enough to make sure it can’t hurt them i.e kill off teams. Plus, it has happened to us all season. FACT not an assumption.

        1 other thing, why do people keep saying we play football the right way like it is the only way you can win a game of football? The best to watch, yes. The “right way”? i’m not so sure…
        How must a team who doesn’t have technical players like us play? The wrong way?
        It is slightly arrogant to think this way because we used to win things not playing the way we do now.

  10. stats says:

    “…nor has any
    other EPL team been in the
    top 4 for 15 years
    Manure,Cheatski, Shitty, the
    Tiny Totts or Liverpool.”
    Plz do some research before stating such statement.

  11. Domhuaille says:

    @Shats…Did my research and stand by what I said….except for United, who like Arsenal have been in the top 4 every year since 1995.My typo….happens to the best of us…..its Domhuaille you twat….sarcasm is pointless.

  12. stats says:

    If you lose a game it’s a game of ifs and buts. Arsenal played amazing against Barcelona and beat them at Emirates. No one can deny that. But I am pretty sure messi disallowed goal was a mistake from the linesman. See there is ‘But’ if you viewed from barcelona point of view.

    Despite chelsea’s indifferent form this season they are still a good side. Man Utd beat them home and away. I was pretty sure chelsea would come out on top of tha tie but they lost both game. So man utd having easy run is little hard to accept. Arsenal finishing second on a very winnable group was the reason for getting barcelona on a first knock out stage. Complicancy from the manager and the players is to blame I think.

    • Waleed says:

      The linesman got the call right. It was offside but only marginally. There are ifs and buts in every close game whatever the result. Messi missed a very easy chance earlier in the game. When you’re in form and confident things tend to go for you. Like when we played at Birmingham and won 3-0. We scored from a deflected FK and an own goal.

      I agree the Chelsea tie wasn’t easy for United, but Chelsea this season aren’t the force they once were. I think Real Mad or Barcelona would have knocked out United had they met earlier.

      But again, I don’t care whether you get knocked out in the 2nd round or in the final unless you win it. It’s a cup, so you either win or lose. Getting a little farther than others because of an easier draw doesn’t make you a better team. So I don’t think facing barca in that round was a bad thing. It was a real test early in the competition that could’ve given us great belief had we gone through.

      There were a lot of factors as to why we came second, including (and you can file this under the “ifs and buts”) the horribly officiated match at Braga (as all CL games in Portugal are). If the ref had given that clearest of penalties on Vela, we would have finished first.

      It’s a game of very small margins.

  13. stats says:

    ha ha, sorry about ‘dumhuaille’. Would you believe typing mistake. But seriously it was typo, didn’t mean to offend you.

  14. stats says:

    @domhuaille, sorry again i think i got it right this time.

  15. arvind says:

    Regardless of what our opinions are on barca or madrid, no one can doubt that we are all witnessing sheer brilliance of Leonel Messi. It is truly something historical that we are witnessing with this kid. Once in a lifetime no question!

    He is the reason why Barca will wipe Manure clean. I cannot wait. not a barca fan, but watching the manure going down is something I always relish.

    • desigunner says:

      I’m not sure United will go down that easy. I agree with you about Messi. I would have stopped watching Barca had it not been for the phenomenon. Barca are not that good away from home and the final is in England. It won’t be easy for Barca. United have a very good chance in that one.

      • arvind says:

        Barca have too much in attack for united to handle. Sure their backline is pretty solid, but they have not faced a team like this since the last time they were beaten, and I would say this current barca team are even better. I cannot see United scoring that much against them either. It most likely wont be a blow out but I think that barca have too much for United to deal with.

        too many weapons. regardless of score, watching united lose is the greatest thing for me. I hate them!

      • Kushagra India says:

        I believe the ramifications of this nite might take a toll on Barca otherwise they dismantled a better Manure side than this imo they should get spanked…

  16. Domhuaille says:

    Not an easy name to spell….took you three tries LOL. My point is that Wenger has performed miracles in 15 years on a budget that Real spend in 6 months! His best, in my humble opinion, is yet to come!

  17. james says:

    “Arsenal are probably in the top four or five teams in the world right now.”
    Desi, we are not and I honestly think it’s thinking like this that continually hurts our team. Without the ability to close out seasons in any and every competition, they’ve been made to believe that they are better than they are and the results which speak for themselves don’t teach them any lessons hence the same problems we see week in, week out, and season in, season out.
    About Mourinho learning from AW’s tactics, I think you should chill a bit with that as you almost make it seem as though you’ve forgotten that Mourinho’s Inter did beat Barca last year over 2 legs and maybe he was attempting to use the squad at his disposal in such a way- hence the defensive responsibilities of an Ozil and a Di Maria. I do agree that Mourinho’s always going to envy Wenger for a couple of reasons:
    1) He feels huge envy at Wenger’s relative success (especially before this barren run) in molding teams that play beautiful soccer and win with no deleterious bankrupting of his club’s coffers and feels like he did something like that in Porto so he always will point to AW’s barren years when he’s showing his jealousy.
    2) He knows AW was respected and above all, loved and realizes that nobody (except his current players) loves him that way.
    About the game, I disagree with the red card, it was a yellow and the play-acting made it disgusting because that was a typical foul in the heat of battle- no malice and no force when he came down with his foot. Both teams do whine to the ref a lot and ask for cards so much that UEFA needs to do a better job warning their refs to give cards for such behavior. We met Barca because we met Barca, let’s not get back to excuse-making as there has been too much wrong with this season to fall into an excuse-fest. Next season awaits with the opportunity of a new dawn in tactics, training, discipline and a refreshing of he squad in terms of new players, new focus and new responsibilities. Even if I am wary of our curmudgeon sticking to his ways, I hope for once that I am drastically wrong and next season does not leave me caring less about what will happen to our Darling Arsenal.
    Gunners for ever!

    • santori says:

      Different circumstances. Jose lives and dies by the sword.

      As he would readily admit, few would enjoy the benefit of the doubt as arsene has. This is his own doing in delivering a wealth of success early on and transforming Arsena;’s fortune as well as future stability.

      BUT you have to give Mourinho credit.

      He steped into some well funded squads yes but he started the hard way with Porto (and they were tactically brilliant). Moreover, we might want to remember the fact that those well heeled clubs had individuals before him that didn’t exactly deliver on promise.

      Put it this way, a wealth of talent comes with it’s own set of problems and does not necessarily make it any easier.

      What Mourinho is good at is adpating very quickly and getting the necessary tools to acheieve his ends.

      His results are impressive.

      Porto. Chelsea dominated in his short tenure in England. Took Inter to the CL as promised. We can’t fault him for having a slightly harder time against barca this season.

      I would still have no one but Wenger in charge of Arsenal but you have to give Jose the credit he deserves.

    • desigunner says:

      Name five teams better than Arsenal. And please don’t mention the likes of Dortmund who haven’t proven themselves in terms of consistency. Fluke seasons don’t count.

      Mourinho has definitely learned from AW. He accepted the plan was to hold on till the final few minutes and then go all out on attack. What he did with Inter would not work with Real. How do you think the Bernabeu faithful would react if he put 10 players in his own penalty box?

      I don’t understand why people take a simple statement and convert it into an excuse. There is no excuse. Arsenal were unlucky to draw Barca. That doesn’t mean there weren’t other problems or that the team could not have done better in the group stage. Those are independent issues that can exist in parallel. I am amazed at the sheer numbers who can’t see this or similar other situations. Any attempt to get into details is summarily dismissed as excuses, ultimately rendering any possibility of an honest discussion looking rather bleak.

  18. Chir says:

    It is just classless the way Barca played yesterday what with their playacting and imaginary red card waving. If they are ‘the best team in the world’ IMO they shouldnt have to resort to such antifootball tactics. Frankly they disgusted me yesterday (Btw am an arsenal fan) and i do not like the way you framed this post today Desi. You are better than this, you do not list sterotype opinions most of the time. Yes, Mourinho is an unsavoury character but that should not mean that he wasn’t the victim yesterday. It just the truth. Your post is however thought provoking. Didn’t RM win the copa del rey? Mourinho has improved this Madrid team for all to see. I bet he will be staying for another couple of seasons.

  19. Gunneresque says:

    ummm… i think that branding Mourinho a dark-lord is going a bit overboard.(The way our team defended at Wembley against Manure??)
    He is paid to please the fans of the team he manages, not the neutrals.
    Jose uses his ‘ugly’ tactics only when facing technically superior teams, and that is called ‘maximising your resources’. And dont tell me that if you were an Inter supporter, you’d not be happy with the team winning the treble. I enjoyed 10 man Inters battling performance at Camp Nou as much as 5nil humiliation of Real Madrid.

    Meanwhile, Manure are going to beat Barca at Wembley, just a gut feeling though.

    • santori says:

      I hate to say this (actually not) but we (wenger) can learn a thing or two from Mourinho.

      Jose is excellent at adapting and he does it very quickly.

      Playing Pepe in the middle effectively shackled Barca.

      I think Wenger could take pointers from the ‘dark lord’ and I think he could use some of those tactics without detriment to our attacking ethos.

      After all, Jose was flexible enough to have adopted some of ours against barca;)

  20. Well barca are a team who are light years ahead of football clubs in the world. So even getting a draw against them merits a celebration.

    I personally felt barca were despicable with the diving antics. I felt you might have well have a shawcross in real’s color to make them feel what real pain feels like.

    Yes wenger’s tactics worked. But calling jose a failure is a colossal joke. Why do we only like teams that lose against us playing our style of football (blackpool to small degree).

    Even I bought the claim that we are the only one’s playing “football” in the real sense in our league. Unfortunately sometimes there seems to be a trade off between beautiful and successful football.

    Jose has gone after the latter. Winning the CL with porto is no mean feat. Remember chelsea Vs barca, remember arsenal V barca.

    Barca wouldn’t have won any of these matches without the undeniable leeway they got from refs

    • santori says:

      Let’s not forget jose also recently beat Barca in the Copa Del Rey.

      He has evolved his tactics since the rude awakening 5-0 trashing they recieved.

      It was always going to be hard containing Barca with one man short, particularly with Messi around.

  21. Raghugovind says:

    Its tough to say we could have beaten Real . For 3 reasons I think Arsene has never won against The Dark Lord of Anti Football . Second they would have parked the bus against us . Thirdly Christiano Ronaldo . On a totally different note Desi how do you think Denilson will perform in Cesc’s role . I know its a radical question and I will be attacked for asking this but just wondering .

    • Waleed says:

      Interesting question about Denilson.

      I think Denilson would be a terrible choice for that role. I dont’ think he is a bad player but he is not a creative player.

      Maybe it is the nature of the role he plays but the focus of his passing is always to keep possession. He rarely plays a penetrating pass.

      Against big teams this can be useful as his pass and move style helps us keep possession, but usually we are playing against parked buses, and Denilson’s short sideways passes slow us down too much. That’s why Diaby, Song, Ramsey, Wilshere work better in midfield because they can drive forward with the ball and play penetrating passes.

      Denilson would only play in that role for us if we somehow decided to play a very defensive game, and he ended up being the highest player in a deep midfield shield.

  22. GunneRon says:

    Many people believe this barcelona team to be the greatest ever with arguably the best player ever in lionel messi.
    Seeing Real being outclassed at home by Barca makes Me recherish that glorious night at the Emirates, makes Me realise that what our players did that night was something very special indeed…… As we managed to beat The Greatest ever team, at their prime, who came into the match having lost only once in 34,and who had certainly never lost a match with xavi, messi ,iniesta , pedro playing together!
    Our potential and our abilities have never been in doubt,only our mental strength is…

    • santori says:

      I didn’t think real were being outclassed at all.

      In fact I thought (recent games in mind) that they have narrowed the gap and have learnt how to contain Barca.

      Not much sharp end yes but Real were very much in the game until the timely card.

  23. Football hav lost d flavour we like it 4 such skill,passing scoring,dribling name it bcos of d desire of trophy ,introduce by morino,well football should be played d right way & let dose flavour dat made us like football com back.D Prof.

    • Well I am tired of this rhetoric. EVERY team plays to win. Why should we feel sad or wenger feel angry that his team has lost out on the title race.Again?.

      Its because he felt that our team would “Win” the league. By that measure are we consciously generous with our defense?

  24. ozziearsenal says:

    @dhanesspeaks your comment about undeniable leeway from refs I dont agree with…you might be used to the EPL refereeing where they have 3 to 4 teams with very few skilful players in there team so they use brute force as their weapon and their allowed to in England Players like Messi would have their legs broken in the EPL.I can see Man U playing rough house tactics with Barca as they did with Arsenal .

    • No where I am saying that barca are not worthy enough to be world champions. What puzzles me is that with the pool of talent that they have got they don’t NEED to get into referee bullying. They can toy around with their possession. They have the resources to break a counter attack. Its more to their work rate than their talent which wins them matches.
      Call it luck, but refereeing decisions have gone a bit too much towards them, especially when they are playing big games.

      And messi is a player beyond reproach of any kind. I am sure even Madrid fans have a soft corner for him. Even if you kick busquets in the nuts he is going to go to the ground clutching his face, crying my face, my pretty pretty face.

  25. Steve Palmer says:

    I must comment on our game with Barca, they overpowered us from the start of the first game and again in the second, in the first game we had luck on our side and scored a late winner against the run of play, but in the second we were never at the races. Barca play some lovely football but are cheats, the football authorities pander to their whims, Barca are the best team in the world againt ten men that is now part and parcel of their game . the Champions League stinks of corruption draws are fixed and so are the games, the only rule is you cannot tackle the golden team as they are fully protected. What you have to ask yourself is who the authorities want to win the champions league, and with the final being staged here and how Utd tackle, you wouldn’t expect Utd would have a chance but I think there will be an upset for the Barca supporters, as the authorities have all ready fixed the final result.

    • Waleed says:

      I think the first game it was pretty even. Barca gained the upper hand toward the end of the first half because our pressing became more lax. The second half I would say it was pretty even again, and we probably had more chances to score than they did.

      A lot of possession by Barca in the frist leg, but not a lot of penetration. We figured them out.

      The second game it was all Barca right from the start, the ref generously helping them with each step along the way.

      • santori says:

        Yes but it was still very close.

        We only needed a goal despite shipping 3.

        The red was a timely insurance for the favorites.

  26. Aussie Jack says:

    Maybe it`s because I`m a bit of a `short arse ` myself but I do get a little tired of Arsenal being referred to as `midgets`. I always seemed to compensate for my lack of height and we can`t all be six feet three can we? What kind of reaction would Wenger get from Arsenal supporters if he turned down Messi because he is to short? haha!

    • santori says:

      Another fallacy.

      1) Barca have no problem defending with their midgets

      2) Our midfield is 50-50 split between those above 5-10 and those under. Diaby (6’2), Song(6), Frimpong (6), Ramsey (5’11). There is a reasonable amount of height there. Add to Szcezny (6’5), Djourou (6’4), Vermaelen 96), Koscielny (6’1), RVP (6’3), Bendtner (6’2), Chamakh (6’3)

      3) The bloke ont he Barca team that does the most damage is 5’7.

      4) Some of the most solid DMs are short. Makelele, Essien, Marscharano are all comfortable in a cave with an axe.

  27. Aussie Jack says:

    Desi… Your clock`s wrong. The UK is 9 hours behind Sydney. Time here right now 5.32pm.Thursday 28th.

  28. gumbiGumbi says:

    Mourihno is right: When will back win a Champions league without the hand of Mad refs? Why was Van perse sent off? Why were all Barca players sorrounding him for doing nothing wrong? I watched the game and I dont know where all these good reviews for Barca are coming from. Playing acting to get opponents sent off so that they have advantage. We all saw what haapened to Motta last year. Between Arbeloa and Pedro, who was suppose to be shown a yellow card. SMH.

    • santori says:

      Busquets could (should) have got at least a yellow for poor simulation (and an Oscar thereafter). Shades of Rivaldo.

  29. Prince says:

    Real are crap. Barca are crap but Messi is not. He walks himself into space and just when you think you’ve got him you find out you dont. The red can’t be argued but the acting was too much. All in all the game would probably end 1-0. People might argue that Pepe would have tracked Messi’s run for the firs but it was a simple moment of magic for the second. Hate Barca all you want but Messi makes them a world class team.

  30. Cremedelacreme says:

    This one of the worst articles to be written on the net for a long time

    First the irony of the author criticising the flory hunting apologists

  31. alphie says:

    i disagree desi,
    The only way to beat barca is control the midfield zone just around the halfway point…they weren’t deep…you must understand the sole reason all teams can’t cope with barca is because messi is a genius…not only talent but his intelligence is unique…infact the only players on a similar level are few like henry,rooney,hernandez,luiz,bergkamp and others…this might sound strange but i believe Arshavin is the most intellient ATTACKING footballer in the world!…my opinion:-)

    • I totally second you on this. But his work rate doesn’t do justice to his talent. He sees the game 10 passes ahead. But i think he is kind of wasted in the flanks.

      He is really creative and I would love to see him play behind the striker as a cam.

      • santori says:

        Absolutely. Pepe did his job well.

        OTOH, one wonders if Wenger would be practical enough to adopt similar tactics particularly when we have to protect a crucial lead.

        If TV and Djourou are strong, there is every reason to experiemnt with Koscielny as an extra shield alongside Song to shut the door when needed.

  32. Pistil says:

    Desi, I may be the only one here to notice this but you contradict yourself….

    You say Mourinho could have been inspired by Wengers tactics against Barca by remaining compact (defensive)and STAYING in the game until the last 20 minutes when he could bring on Higuin, Kaka & Benzema to look for a late winner (see Ronaldo’s comments about Real’s strategy)

    I actually believe had it got to 70 minutes at 0-0, Real would have won the game and taken a lead to the Nou Camp but Barcelona’s play acting, hounding the ref. diving and cheating ensured that a player was sent off. They were nothing other than a DISGRACE. After the red, the result was inevitable as Real’s game plan was shattered. Football is a tactical game, not all out attacking. Mourinho was famously quoted last year as saying Inter controlled the game whilst Barca controlled the ball.

    When you actually look back at the decisions that went Barca’s way recently, it is hard not to see Jose’s point. 4 classico’s, 4 reds for Real, none for Barca (although at 2 were deserved). Even going back to the chelsea semi final at the bridge – 3 or 4 penalties not going against Barca, Chelsea the year before when Del-Horno was sent off, then you look last year, Inter down to 10 men after more Barca cheating/playacting and bad officiating and of course the ludicrous Van Persie red card against arsenal when we were winning the tie (headed into the last 1/4 of the game when Barca are at their weakest). In all honesty it bloody stinks doesn’t it?

    Then there was last night – never a red card, sorry but I disagree with you there, both players had studs up going in for the challenge, Pepe was just a fraction late – yellow card was the right call but after the hounding of ref by Barca, a red was inevitable. Alves going off on a STRETCHER and coming back on? It’s laughable really if it didnt make me so angry.

    I never ever in a million years thought I would feel even a bit sorry for Real and Jose after a defeat but on this occasion, I do and I hope they (somehow) manage to get through and beat utd in the final.

    Look back at Barca in CL and it does smell more than a little funny. Jose’s comments following the game are strong indeed and he may get punished but I think they have merit behind them and warrant further discussion having looked at some of the facts over the last few seasons (another post on those maybe?! :))

    If I am honest, it does seem set up for Barca (again), I think there could be something bigger (conspiracy) going on and it’s killing my enjoyment of the game.

    What are your thoughts on this, I would be really interested to know because looking at the bare facts – Jose Mourinho raises a valid point and with so much money in the game, it would be naive to think it wasn’t possible (see italy 2006).

    Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

    • santori says:

      I agree with you.

      I thought Jjose’s tactics were spot on. We weren’t that adventurous ourselves either. It would have been suicide.

      What Jose did with putting Pepe in front of the defense effectively negated Barca’s sharp end.

      He would have then hoped to have worn them down and loaded up the strikers toward the final third of the game.

      The card made a hige difference.

      You can’t help but wonderwhy some of these ‘more popular’ teams enjoy an undue advantage at crtitical moments.

      Thinking back to just recently, sure we have had a poor run and only have ourselves to blame for it but there can be no better insurance then awarding a match levelling penalty for Liverpool in the 12th minute of stoppage time, and particularly with Sir Alex watching from the posh seats (what was he doing there lord knows being that he wasn’t pplaying either team next)

      You have to wonder.

      Their shirt may say UNICEF but Barca are no angels.

    • desigunner says:

      Well you can argue it both ways. Inter scored an off-side goal. Take that away and Barca would have qualified. Would Mourinho then have talked about controlling the game? Inter also got away with two clear penalties against Chelsea when their defenders litterally dragged the opposing players to ground from corners. Can’t see Mourinho mentioning that? He’s a guy who has taken cheating in football to new levels. When you watch his teams it’s not difficult to realize they practice diving, rough tackling, etc. Can’t really have any sympathy for such a man when a decision goes against him (After seeing again I do agree it wasn’t that obvious a red although I have seen it given just for the intention of a bad tackle, and Alves didn’t have his studs up).

      Basically Jose wanted to apply cheap/dirty tricks for 75 mins and hope to frustrate the opponent and hurt a few with bad tackles. Then attack them in the final minutes. It flopped. But as Pique said – If you play with fire, you can get burned.

      The theatrics by the Barca players made me cringe but there was no saving grace for the Dark Lord. Such tactics at home with a team like Madrid says he’s completely given up the idea of trying to play against Barca. For that reason alone Wenger deserves immense credit.

  33. Pistil says:

    Cremedelacreme – go away mate, your bringing nothing to the conversation, Desi’s posts are insightful and provoke interest and debate, if you don’t want to get involved, go elsewhere please.

  34. Northbankhighbury says:

    Great article desi with sensible realism that many people could do well to take a large dose of especially when assessing our team. It annoys me when people keep using the no shots on target statistic to put the knife into arsenal. The fact is that before van opersie was sent off we didn’t need a shot on target because WE were leading the tie. Obviously powers that be could see we had them in trouble at that point and I believe we would have gone on to win in the last 20 mins, the same way we did at home. So somebody had to be sent off which seems to be a recurring theme with those cheating bastards. I cannot stand to watch their diving and remonstrating. Football governance needs to act now and treat the constant harrassing of the officials ( even by the substitutes warming up, telling the lineseman who was offside at one point!) as a red card offense. I stopped watching at half time because I knew what was coming and it leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Its not the game I want to be involved in.
    Wolgang Stark was the ref last yr when we lost @ camp nou. I was there and we would of lost any way, but he gave absoloutly everything to barca but turned a blind eye to their misdemeanors so I expected controversy last night.

    • santori says:

      With 11 men on the pitch, there is every reason for Arsenal or Real for that matter to match Barca. BUT with a handicap against, it is nigh impossible with Messi rampant.

      Barca are very lucky to enjoy their advantage. almost too convenient for my liking.

  35. Personally, I don’t Barca think are much better than other teams. It’s simply down to one players…Messi it is. If we had such a magical player, we’d be winning many more trophies. About Mourinho, I think he is right this time cuz it wasn’t a red card by any standard.Another Swiss referee. What was the name of the one who didn’t know any rules but did know that when there’s a difference of 1 second b/w the whistle and the shot, you’ve got to give a red card. Especially against Barca cuz they are the best team in the world.
    The footballing world associates Arsenal & Barca with class .True class. I guess only one team has had it in the recent past. And that’s us.And that’s why Fabregas will not leave this summer.
    Check my new article:

  36. Kushagra India says:

    Desi pls

    • desigunner says:

      Thanks for sharing this. I have change my original opinion. It doesn’t look like that obvious a red. I have seen them given for a rash challenge even when the opponent has pulled his leg out but it’s not as clear cut as it looked live. Still given the ref’s position it’s a difficult call to make.

  37. Kushagra India says:

    Desi I think there is no need to mention Arsenal’s percieved weaknesses in this otherwise pretty good article…Every team has its weaknesses Arsenal have different than Real Madrid, 11 Dhoni’s won’t win you the cricket world cup its all about balance and lets laugh at Moaninho and I have always maintained Arsenal were the best placed team to beat FARCA thats why the agony and some over the top comments

    • desigunner says:

      Arsenal were the best placed team to beat Barca? Aren’t you the one of those who keep claiming this is the worst Arsenal squads in Wenger’s era? So the worst Arsenal squad in recent memory was best placed to beat one of the best teams of all time? Do you realize how ridiculous that sounds?

  38. Kushagra India says:

    Desi ur view on the video pls!!! that’s what the beautiful game has been reduced atrocious PROUD TO BE A GOONAH.

  39. Kushagra India says:

    what goes around comes all the way back around

    • desigunner says:

      Nice one. I remember this game really well. Loved the second goal by Ronaldinho. In those days I had a lot more respect for Barca and was really sad when Carvalho pulled that stunt. This is one of the many incidents that have made me despise Mourinho.

  40. Kushagra India says:

    Gr8 comment from another blog hahahha
    Keyser says:
    April 28, 2011 at 17:10
    I have sympathy for Mourinho because I’m not heartless and because Barcelona generally do employ the black arts of gamesmanship to extremes, though at the same time this is what Mourinho wanted .

    He dragged it all down to his level, it’s like seeing the bully at your school get battered by the bully of another school.

    • santori says:

      Busquets should have won an Oscar.

      Whilst Mourinho/Real are sore losers, BArca are a real petty club.

      Why bother bringing charges on the Portugese Maestro honestly?

      Fortunately for Jose, they didn’t turn the sprinklers on this time round.:D

  41. santori says:

    I thought Real were actually very effective before the sending off.

    Forget the hot air, since the 5-o drubbing, Mourinho has gotten the measure of Barca.

    The tactics used made sense.

    As you mentioned, Mourinho has taken a page out of our victory over Barca realising that the Catalans tend to run out of steam around the hour mark.

    He showed good tactical flexibility in putting Pepe right ahead of the defense thereby negating Barca’s attack.

    Could we say the same of Wenger? when we need to protect a crucial lead, would he adopt something similar to shore us up at the back.

    Once Pepe recieved his referee sponsored marching orders, it became very difficult for Real to close down the space (Much like it was for us when RVP got sent off for being a striker)

    As a result, Messi had plenty of space to waltz through and Braca were 2 goals to the good.

    You simply can’t play against Barca (Messi) with 10 men and not get punished.

    But as Desi says, put into perspective, we didn’t do too badly. Pity we didn’t have enough belief and were handicapped because all it took was one more goal (bendtner) on our part to have knocked them out.

  42. Claver says:

    Outstanding. The willingness of some to be gullible is science fiction in itself!

    There is not a shred of doubt that Pepe was rightfully sent off. He was showing his studs and had zero intention to play the ball.

    Dani was extremely clever in avoiding serious injury and drawing attention to the seriousness of such outrage from Pepe.

    I only wish that more Arsenal players did that kind of ‘diving’. We would have far fewer injuries.

    Well done to the Ref. Bravo. The EPL needs more Refs like that. Is it any wonder the Germans are better at football?

  43. […] El Classico More Like La Abominacion Many who don’t follow the beautiful game intensely would still have made time to catch a game of this magnitude with […] […]

  44. 7masters says:

    I have nothing against Desi…..But lately it has all been about defending Wenger. I think he is AKBS or in Wenger we trust Brigade… Presumably Dark lords are anyone who question Wenger Authority right.

    Well the issue with Wenger and Arsenal today are obvious for all to see, First I would rather Wenger stop wasting time talking about winning trophies, Being second and qualifying for Champion League every season….Plus premature excitement that happen then fall flat on his face..He claimed we can win treble? Now I like Wenger but that to me is out of Order. Second he claimed Being Second is like winning? another mad utterings.

    Wenger problem seem to be he has suffocated the club to the point he is every where. Arsenal are run like Business club and these has filtered down to even players, Their is no sense of unity amongst players and even leadership on field is lacking. Cesc Fabregas at the moment is not even their in person, All these are noticeable by everyone.
    The club has become a soulless cash machine, from Stadium to training ground it obvious making money seem to be the order of the day. If players are left alone and make effort to play then it worth it for most fans. Put it these way winning two or three league is Arsenal Average and most supporters knows that, Coupled with 3 or four FA Cup in a decade. Europe has not been our strong points but we can be first land Team to win Champion League.

    But these would never happen because the manager is untouchable and his tactics are not questionable why? It now the 4 seasons in a row that we collapsed before finishing line and same excuses are being made by Wenger?

    Desi, A lot of fans liked Wenger but he has gone senile and you would be making excuses for long time on his behalf. I think we need to plan ahead and have a normal manager whose legacy is not going to overshadow footballing decisions like we are in right now. Wenger dismantled unbeaten team overnight and tried to sign some back why? He has refused to strengthen in Key areas, defence, Goalie which has cost us dearly why?

    Why is he so special that any criticism is not possible? I trust in God not Wenger and something tell me he has gone senile. I am not calling for His head but urging everyone to look at what he is doing to Arsenal that all.

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