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Barcelona vs. Atletico Madrid, 2-1

Well, that was a real nail-biter of a game. By the time it was over, lion-hearted defender Puyol actually needed to lie down for a bit :P. Man of the Match goes to keeper Victor Valdes for almost single-handedly limiting the home team's goals to one. Leo Messi had a very uneven game but was certainly second in the running... which doesn't say a lot for the performance of the rest of the team.

Man of the Match! (No, that wasn't gratuitous at all...)

Messi certainly started the game off on the wrong foot... or make that hand, as he was awarded a yellow card instead of a goal when he was caught in a handball on his way through the box. His utter disbelief was apparent...


...but the referee was unimpressed. That made five yellow cards for Leo, who will have to sit out the next La Liga game, which happens to be against relative lightweight Sporting Gijon this weekend. In the meantime, though, he gets to play for Argentina in a friendly against Switzerland on Wednesday, so I'm sure that will cheer him up. </sarcasm>

Fortunately, Leo later set up a beautiful combination play involving Cesc Fabregas and Dani Alves that resulted in Barcelona's first recognized goal. I don't know what Dani was doing up there given that he was nominally assigned to the right wing defense, but since he scored, I won't complain. He also responded to the boos and whistles from the home fans with his usual chutzpah, dancing around making faces and ending with a goal dedication to his children directly into the camera.

More attacks and a veritable parade of yellow cards followed. Even Cesc attempted a nasty tackle that earned him a yellow card and a sore jaw for his troubles. Mama spank.

Atletico Madrid continued to press aggressively against our defense, which seemed even weaker than usual (possibly because two of our defenders were busy doing presentable imitations of strikers, ahem). Near the start of the second half they scored a goal of their own off a corner kick that was unfortunately assisted by one of our guys (I thought it was Xavi Hernandez, but the FCB website claims it was Sergio Busquets.).

The tie was agonizing. Victor Valdes seriously deserves a medal for 1) preventing any additional goals and 2) not losing his temper at his teammates (I can only imagine the ass-kicking they would have gotten from Iker Casillas in a similar situation). Finally, with about ten minutes left on the clock, Messi was fouled yet again, and to everyone's astonishment (especially, it seems, the frozen goalkeeper's), he used his free kick to send a perfect ball into the corner of the net and put us ahead 2-1 :D.

Yet more yellow cards, last-minute substitutions on both sides, and the game finally ground to a halt so that we could catch our collective breaths. (Puyol's teammates were so surprised by his immediate collapse that they actually ran over and rubbed his chest as if wondering whether mouth-to-mouth might be in order. Unfortunately, it wasn't necessary.)

So... we won! Yay... I think...

Yes, that's Leo being cuddled under Xavi's arm.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 27th, 2012 06:43 am (UTC)
Look, if Leo painted* a perfect free kick in ten minutes before the end when no one expected it anymore, he's done his job. This is calcio, lady. Calcio's not about the beauty, it's about the win. That's why the Netherlands hasn't won anything and Brazil hasn't won everything.

I wouldn't put it beyond being standard strategy to get the last yellow card before a suspension on purpose, so as to get out of an unimportant game. Also, doing so in a nnviolent way (not that I can ever imagine Leo being violent, except possibly as taliation if they trample on him too much. He's so tiny).

The black outfit is so cool.

*The verb I want is pennellare. Pennello is paintbrush. Damn it's hard to speak of calcio in a language other than my own.
Feb. 27th, 2012 12:30 pm (UTC)
Where did you get the impression that I thought that Leo hadn't done his job? Apart from Victor Valdes, I thought he was the only one who did!

But I have to disagree with you about the beauty vs. the win. I watch Barcelona in particular because I love to see them play so beautifully - I have no interest in, say, the Premier League. Of course I want them to win, too, but when they're playing well, it's almost inevitable.

It's not uncommon to earn deliberate yellows before unimportant games, but it is frowned upon. Jose Mourinho was sanctioned when they caught him conspiring with two of the Real Madrid players to do just that.

Leo rarely fouls people - almost all of his yellows are for handballs. I say "almost" because he earned one for tackling Pepe during the last Real Madrid match. Pepe, who stamped on his hand in the previous game, who routinely kicks other players on purpose, and who has earned the same number of yellows this season as Leo. Go figure.
Feb. 27th, 2012 05:22 pm (UTC)
when they're playing well, it's almost inevitable
Maybe almost, but not inevitable. I'm still gloating 30 years later. God I'm old.
And "winning is what counts" is the way I was (dis?)educated.

Jose Mourinho was sanctioned when they caught him
Well, Mourinho was a very successful trainer in Italy :).
Italians frown upon corrupting referees and players, tiny things like fishing for yellows go below the radar. When I was a child we suspected Serie A was rotten, now we know.

he earned one for tackling Pepe
That's exactly what I expected from him. A perfectly nonviolent player, with an occasional burst of anger at a "picchiatore" (beater?).
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )



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