Inter v. Barcelona Preview: Buy the Hype!

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Everybody, including me, wants to paint Mourinho as the Dark Lord, the scheming scientist locked in a dungeon in a castle atop a mountain. Due to his playful and sarcastic media mind games, his personality gets depicted in a negative light. Accordingly, we transpose this “abrasive” personality onto his team – if Mourinho is such a downer in press conferences, then surely his Inter play negative catenaccio. Right? Wrong.

Mourinho tried hard to instill a 4-3-3 counterattacking ethos at Inter. He purchased Ricardo Quaresma. He purchased Mancini of Roma fame. Both flopped miserably. So instead, Mourinho offloaded the Swedish and moody winger baggage in favor of Schneijder, Diego Milito, and Samuel E’too. The result? Mourinho, the scheming master of the negative, plays a conventional 4-4-2. Does his team hemorrhage early goals? Yes. Both Chelsea and Barcelona scored at the San Siro. But the spirited remontadas have been a feast of attacking menace.

Both Mourinho’s Chelsea and Inter feasted on the high Barcelona back line, springing the off-sides trap with devastating success. They also refused to get sucked into the Barcelona half, collapsing on the midfield maestros near the halfway line, but never a shade sooner. In summation, the game plan was France v. Spain at the the 2006 World Cup, NOT Italy v. Spain at the 2008 European championships.

I have already criticized the monopoly of the Cule, their stranglehold on the soccer media’s collective imagination. Since when did we place such weighty emphasis on total passes? On passes completed? Should the rules of the game be amended to a timed “monkey in the middle”, whereby goals are a secondary consideration to total passes completed times pass completion percentage? I vote an enthusiastic no, in part because I witnessed with horror the pre-shotclock era of basketball. Shudders.

A dictatorship starts with a shot to the adversary, but establishes power by monopolizing the imaginative realm. Journalists must disappear, editors must flee the country, a watchdog media must be converted into a lapdog. The Cule dynasty has fastened its grip on the press and this realm subtly, twisting the sporting values from goals & athleticism to ten foot passes. When the opposition raises its voice, they are painted as the enemy as the pueblo screams in terror. We must be protected from such infidels! Still, one fundamental doubt arises to the guidance of Barcelona’s Kantian moral compass…

While the success of last season in a sense justified the Cruyff-Dutch-Ideal, on the other hand, doesn’t commitment to an ideal entail sacrifice? Wouldn’t Barcelona’s dedication to the principles of Cruyff be more impressive if they continued to play this way with no success? Many a patriot has sacrificed his own life for the abstract concept of liberty – is patient passing more important than winning?

But why concern yourself with such thoughts? Keep things simple, Buy the Hype. Barcelona =’s pretty, Mourinho =’s negative mad scientist. Every time the Cules complete a pass, set your latte down for a brief round of applause. Every time an Inter defender sticks a tackle or lands a block, hiss in derision or nod in disapproval.

In a way, at the Nou Camp, Barcelona cannot lose. Granted, the result depends upon them and is entirely manageable – they have beat Inter 2-0 before. This time, there will be no travel nor dry pitch to subtly blame.

But win or lose, they will nobly carry the torch of the ten-foot-pass to either ecstasy or oblivion….

10 thoughts on “Inter v. Barcelona Preview: Buy the Hype!

  1. Pingback: Reads of the Day: The Blaugrana Backlash | Must Read Soccer

  2. well played elliott. id only argue that its not really Barcas fault that no one has conquered their ideal, that would be up to those pitted against them (or crooked Scandi refs, of course). and that their sacrifice is indeed present in the games they play, the runs they make, the passes they…..well, pass. to quote some asshole somewhere, that’s why they play the games!

    oh, and elliott; pre-shot clock basketball? did you see time in normandy, too, man?

  3. I understand you’re using dictatorship and patriotic sacrifice as metaphor, but considering the history of FCB and how that is linked to the history of Catalonia itself, I think you need to take care when throwing those ideas around so casually.

  4. Alcatraz, actually…. until I used a wooden spoon to miraculously escape. That’s why i have to blog from Nicaragua and not the United States.

    I’m also not sure I like this concept of a “Barcelona backlash” – I love to watch Barca when they are on their game. My problem is with the media perpetuated monopoly on neurotic-Dutch football-as virtue, not the actual team or individual players.

    I also understand your point J, about sacrifice, but isn’t that “sacrifice” the same as every other team that plays for 90 minutes?

  5. Colin-

    I really did not mean to insinuate any foul play by Barca or any conspiracy. The point was that dictatorships attempt to control our collective imagination by promoting single virtue of justice which only they can provide – the perpetuation of “Dutch football” as the only ideal worthy of aspiration has a similar stranglehold.

    And I repeat – my problem is not with Barcelona!

    For the record, though, I have selectively decided not to wade into the murky waters of Franco-era football for a several reasons:

    1) Opinion blends into fact all too often. When I lived in Madrid and met several individuals who had lived through the regime, the spectrum of theories ran from “Franco controlled everything” to “Franco didn’t do anything.”

    2) Certain facts are odd – like Barca being the first team to beat Madrid in a European Cup playoff during the regime. Also, Barca won the Copa del Generalisimo in Madrid in front of Franco. Of course, people will say he just tossed out a loaf of bread to diffuse dissent, but that logic can be applied to any contrary evidence, no?

    The one fact we can agree on is that Franco ran a brutal dictatorship. However, the only specific anecdote of football interference which I am 100% sure I believe is the infamous “visit at halftime” during Madrid’s 11-1 win over Barca in 1943.

    If anyone has any good investigative journalism or books that go beyond the usual hazy and nebulous conspiracy theories, I am all ears…..

  6. Pingback: Inter v. Barcelona Preview: Buy the Hype! « Scissors Kick

  7. So finally the evil wins.. and i loved it… you totally represents me with your pre-view of the match… greetings from chile (i love the evil characters in movies.. i ove everything that tries to destroy the mainstream)

  8. Tomas-

    glad you liked the piece and hope to hear more comments from you! We try to avoid the mainstream when possible….

  9. Nice one Elliott. Your opinions on Barca more or less represent my feelings towards Arsenal and the English media love-in towards them over the past 7 or 8 years. Main difference is Barcelona actually win things and so deserve all the plaudits they get in my opinion.

    Arsenal haven’t won anything in 5 years and yet ESPN yesterday were referring to the team as “artisans” (in a 2-1 defeat at Blackburn of all places). As if not winning in 5 games and stuttering your way to 4 convincing beatings against your main rivals and no trophies somehow makes one a footballing artisan…

  10. Jonathan-

    Arsenal for me is actually more interesting than Barcelona precisely because they have not won anything as of late. In a sense, they are more “loyal” to the ideal of “beautiful” football than Barca because they have sacrificed trophies for this ideal.

    But yes, the plaudits seem to assume that the next “Invincibles” era is just around the corner, a signing or a year away from materializing, just out of reach like a setting sun….