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Real Madrid-Barcelona, AKA Dive-Fest 2011

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Alright, Madridistas. I'm not going to do a whole recap right now, partly because I'm waiting to see what happens with UEFA's disciplinary case against Mourinho, Barcelona, Real Madrid, and the sport of football generally, but mainly because I'm going to be doing one in conjunction with the guys over at Barça Blaugranes.

I know, I know, I'm a traitor--but they're good guys, and I genuinely enjoy Adi-Oula Sebastian's work (even when he writes about Madrid). So expect to see that piece in the coming days.

I was pretty pissed after yesterday's game, and I'm assuming you all were too. It's hard to describe how aggravating watching powerlessly as your team's players are ejected and given cards because the opposing team dives really is. But watching that against Barcelona? Yikes.

I don't feel like doing the whole list of mistakes thing--it's played out and pretty much embodies sore-loserdom. Suffice to say that both teams made a mediocre (at best) referee's job impossibly hard: Madrid played physical, shut-down defense, and Barcelona threw their bodies all over the pitch. Madrid committed fouls; Barcelona simulated.

The one thing I would like to stress is the importance of Pepe. Losing him was a huge blow for Madrid: he was Mourinho's silver bullet, the tactical anti-Barça that worked so well in the previous matches. Madrid wasn't the same without him, and the game was essentially decided. Whether he deserved to be sent off was another matter--of course, I think it was very rigorous, and the whole situation reeks of simulation and coddling.

But instead of going on a whole rant, I'm going to provide a sample of day-after headlines and quotes from our players:

Mourinho: "We're talking about a fantastic team--Barcelona--(don't misinterpret my words), but I don't understand why in a very equal game like today, they did what they did. Referees are supposed to ensure  equality between both sides--afterwards, may the best team win."

"Are we eliminated? Yes. Sometimes I'm a bit disgusted to live in this world, but that's life. We'll have to go to Barcelona with all of our pride, without Pepe who didn't do anything, without Ramos who didn't do anything, and without our coach who won't be able to be on the bench."

"Today we have demonstrated that no one has any chances against Barcelona, because UEFA won't let any other team play against them. I don't understand why. I'm not sure if it's about the Unicef advertising, or if it's because they're really nice..."

"If I were to tell the referee and UEFA what I'm thinking, my career would be over--that's why I'm only asking one question: why? We could have played three hours and the game would have stayed at 0-0."

"Drogba was sanctioned after the Champions League Semifinals, just like Bosingwa; Motta wasn't allowed to play in the final because he was ejected against Barcelona. And both Wenger and Nasri were sanctioned after their tie in the quarter finals. Now, I've been sanctioned, and I shouldn't even be here (in the press room)."

"Guardiola is a great coach, but he's won a Champions that I would be ashamed to have won with the scandal at Stamford Bridge. And this year, if he wins it, it'll be with the scandal at the Bernabéu. He deserves to win a Champions under normal circumstances. It's what I wish for him because he's a very good coach who I respect as a person because of how well he treated me for four years. Yesterday, I didn't show him a lack of respect, I thought I could call him "tu" but apparently I have to call him Sir Josep Guardiola. I respect him a lot as a coach and as a person, and I wish that un day he'll have the pleasure of winning a Champions League without an incidents."

Adebayor: "Football is a man's sport. But, every time you play with Barcelona, whenever you touch them they end up on the ground clutching their faces and crying like babies. And their coach and fans are always crying."

Sergio Ramos: "In reference to the refereeing, I don't have anything to say. Simply lamentable."

Cristiano Ronaldo: "You saw it yourselves. It's been four years now with the same type of thing happening all the time. Those guys on Barcelona have a lot of power, inside and outside of the pitch. 11 on 11 they didn't score on us and everything was in control. We didn't play great, but everything was in control. Then we ended up with 10 men and they scored two goals on us. Coincidence, right? It's always the same, year after year, I don't understand it. I really don't understand it, it's very hard to play like that."

Iker Casillas: "The red card to Pepe was very rigorous, but that's what we're used to, no big deal."

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