It's not a big surprise, but, yet again, Barcelona outplayed and outclassed a Real Madrid side, winning the match by two goals to one. On a night where Jose Mourinho deployed two surprises in Ricardo Carvalho and Hamit Altintop, and Cristiano Ronaldo went missing once again, Barcelona proved why they are the de facto team to beat.
Ronaldo did manage to get on the scoresheet and looked fantastic, but that lasted only till the 30th minute or so. Barcelona, as usual, started to control the tempo, making key incisive passes that finally led them to a win via two unlikely sources in Carles Puyol and Eric Abidal.
However, it was not the fact that Real Madrid were defeated again that proved to be the biggest blow; it was how they conducted themselves.
This night showed a level of poor sportsmanship by the Real Madrid squad that hadn't been on display for quite a while. The main offender was Pepe.
Pepe was a disgrace today. He did make crucial challenges and played great football, yet he will be remembered for his antics and his ignominy. On the 64th minute, during a tussle with Cesc Fabregas, Pepe went down in agony, clutching his face, when absolutely no contact had been made at all.
Then at the other end, Barcelona's I-try-to-get-other-players-booked Sergio Busquets tried to do the same. But that's not any surprising news, is it?
Back to Pepe. On the 68th minute, after hacking Lionel Messi down, Pepe stepped on Messi's hand. Whether it was inadvertent or not, no one will know. However, I am convinced that it was on purpose.
When you step on another player's hand, you realize it immediately, but Pepe showed absolutely no change in countenance and pretended as if nothing had happened. That alone highlights why people like Pepe don't belong in this game. This is not the first time that Pepe has been an absolute disgrace. He had been sent off and banned for assaulting Getafe captain Francisco Casquero.
I don't are how desperate Mourinho's men are to beat Barcelona, but the situation is severe. Messi was being hacked down all over the place. Carvalho tackled Messi from behind in a reckless challenge, and Coentrao, in a gesture which seemed to be friendly, ended up shoving Messi's head towards the ground.
Finally, I thought that the violence in the Clasicos, as highlighted in the Clasicos of last year, were coming to an end, but it raised its ugly head once again. Shame on Pepe and shame on Real Madrid for their underhanded tactics!
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