In the year 2050, Real Madrid and Barcelona will take their huge TV revenue cut, split from La Liga, and start a separate “Super Iberian league.” They will play one another twice a week, every week. And the ratings will be amazing. Until that date, though, the soccer Gods at least have bestowed upon us a ton of clasicos. Mourinho’s arrival at Madrid has coincided with the blanquillos pushing Barca on numerous fronts – a major improvement from the Pellegrini/Schuster/Ramos era.
However, not all the action has happened on the field. What I most love about this rivalry is its eccentricities. Here’s some of the crazy stuff that has happened as of late.
The Petulant Pepe Apology
Last year, Portuguese defender Pepe stamped on Leo Messi’s hand. It was a pretty nasty thing to do, but the half-hearted apology was arguably worse. On Real Madrid’s own website, Pepe claimed that it was “involuntary.” Later, he claims that “if Messi is offended” then he “asks for forgiveness.” Offended? When somebody makes a crude joke, you get offended. When somebody stamps your hand, it hurts. A lot.
I’d like to think that Pepe’s heartfelt words of apology got lost in translation, but the Portuguese-to-Spanish change of language isn’t so much a jump as a little hop.
The Wet Willy Pepe’s hand-stamp was bad, but Mourinho’s wetwilly of then-Barca assistant Tito Vilanova was inexplicably heinous. Why? First, coaches should not fight. Second, coaches, if they do fight, should not fight like second graders. Third, Real Madrid had already lost the game and the Spanish SuperCopa at this point. Rather than guide his players onto a mature path, he followed their red card-laden example.
To his credit, unlike Pepe, Mourinho apologized and in person to Tito at a later game. No word on if he washed his finger beforehand or if Tito suffered any permanent hearing damage.
The Kinds of Coaches & the Puto Amo
A few years ago, Mou managed to unsettle the normally calm and composed Pep Guardiola. In a two-legged clash, Pep had stirred the pot by talking about the referees. Clearly, he wanted a ref who would call a tight game and not let any physical play go. Mou called him out on his shenanigans – he said that in the past, there were those who complained about the referee and those who didn’t. However, Pep had bravely created a third type of coach: those who complain about a ref before he’s even refereed a game.
Of course, Mou was wrong. Sir Alex and other coaches have complained about games and referees beforehand for decades. However, his words painted Pep as a perpetual whiner. Rather than brush off the third grade “whiner whiner pants on fire” insult, Pep lost his head at a presser. He conceded that, in press conferences, Mou was the “puto amo,” Spanish for “f+++ing master.” Whoa.
Mindgames winner: Mourinho.
Close Encounters of the Parking Lot Kind, Part I
In the United States of America, we love to tailgate. Basically, before a game, a large groups of fans with transportable grills and beer congregate in the parking lot of a stadium. We eat, we drink, we share, we laugh. It is normally a merry time. Aside from that, parking lots serve for, well, parking. Yes, teenagers congregate in gas station parking lots in tax haven exurbs on the weekends, but they are not a good place to loiter. After all, you may get ran over by a car.
Undeterred, Jose Mourinho decided to hang out in the Camp Nou parking lot to speak with a referee after a 2:2 draw with Barcelona. He did not plan on showering the ref with compliments, one can imagine. However, at least the Portuguese stayed true to his earlier “types of coach” comments – he complained about the ref after the game, not before it.
Close Encounters of the Parking Lot Kind, Part II
You know things are out of whack when Barcelona players start to lose it. Imagine if, one day, you were driving along, saw Superman behind the wheel of another car, and, at a red light, saw him flip another driver the bird. What would you think? Would it shatter your worldview? Yes, we can accept that certain members of the cule-brethren dive like Di Maria, but Messi crossed into Mourinho-antics when he insulted Alvaro Arbeloa in a parking lot in front of his wife.
Barca tied the first leg of the game 1-1, but lost the moral high ground. If Real Madrid can pull out a 2:2 draw at the Camp Nou like last year, then they will advance. I’m most excited about the next estacionamientazo. You know it’s gonna be good. And bloody.
IMAGE CREDIT: Barcaloco