After seeing his Real Madrid side defeated 5-4 on aggregate in the two-legged Spanish Supercopa, Jose Mourinho referred to the competition—which might be best compared to England's Community Shield—as "pequenito", or, "of little importance."
I'd have to disagree with the two-time Champions League winner there. While the Supercopa holds no real implications on the season, the 2011 edition will be remembered as the first epic battle between the two sides. It's significance on the upcoming season could be monumental.
It was the latest snide comment from the Portuguese tactician, who has seen his considerable reputation questioned after failing to defeat Barcelona upon taking the helm at Madrid.
Despite winning the 2011 Copa del Rey title (after defeating the rival Catalans in the final), Madrid endured a 2010-11 season where they "dropped the trophy—er—ball" repeatedly.
They played Barcelona five times, managing only one win.
With former Madrid legends heaping vitriol upon the man dubbed "The Special One"—whether because of his negative playing style, or lack of success against the 2011 Champions of Europe—Mourinho came into the Supercopa with something to prove.
After a 2-2 draw in the first leg, which took place at Madrid's Santiago Bernabéu, the stakes were as high as ever going into the Supercopa return leg between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid at Camp Nou.
The match itself was top class, a fitting testament to the dizzying number of international superstars currently employed by the two sides.
Madrid were tantalizing going forward—although Cristiano Ronaldo wasn't at his disruptive best, he still managed to unleash a shot of unparalleled ferocity, forcing Barca keeper Victor Valdez to make a desperate save up over the bar.
Yet the match would once again become mired in ugliness—for those who watched the two sides in last season's Champions League semifinal, where play seemed to stop every two minutes for the latest infraction, Wednesday's match was deja vu.
Barca substitute Adriano, who would supply the cross for Messi's peach-of-a-gamewinning volley, quickly became Real's whipping boy upon entering the game. Newly signed Cesc Fabregas bore the brunt of a crunching Marcelo tackle.
We all saw how the brawl began, and how the match eventually ended.
Yet certain details have been misconstrued—or left out altogether—and that is what I want to address.
Not necessarily to pinpoint what got the ball rolling, but rather minute details that might have been missed during the chaotic fracas.
Keeping notice of Real playmaker Mesut Ozil at the left hand side of the video, watch as his head suddenly cocks to his right as his face is met with a strike (0:32) from an unknown assailant. The German international trequartista is then immediately struck once more, yet as he turns to face his then-unknown assailant, who else but Barca striker David Villa is revealed as the instigator.
It is quite interesting that this incident has generated little to no media attention, despite extensive video evidence depicting an incensed Ozil being held back by a combination of teammates and trainers.
How good will the first regular-season El Clasico be, if the Supercopa provides any indication?
With all the talk of Jose Mourinho being in line for a lengthy suspension following his own altercation—which I will get to shortly—I wonder whether or not Villa will suffer any consequences for striking a player that was not only facing a completely different direction but who was by no means acting as an aggressor.
We've already seen Arsenal defensive midfielder Alex Song receive a three-match ban for his stamp on Newcastle's Joey Barton. Though Song wasn't even carded for the offense during the match (he was on a yellow at the time), the English FA reviewed the incident after the match, and decided to dole out the completely-justified suspension.
Whether that kind of post-match discipline will be handed out by the Spanish federation remains to be seen. It should be, however. Referees cannot be expected to see everything during a match. Thus, it is the duty and responsibility of administrative parties to hand out punishment where it is due.
A multitude of media outlets have claimed that Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho “gouged” the eye of Barcelona assistant Tito Vilanova during the melee in the closing stages of Wednesday night's second leg at the Camp Nou.
Those reports are completely false.
While Mourinho has a history with Barcelona—he served at the club in the mid-nineties before his big break as manager of Porto—and while he's been accused in the past of unruly action against Barcelona players, he wasn't at fault this time.
While the Portuguese's actions were out of line, it is clear that Mourinho extends his right arm to pull Vilanova’s right ear lobe. The pulling of the stretchy bit of skin and the turning of the Barcelona assistant led to the pinky and ring fingers of Mourinho occluding the eye, thus presenting the perfect picture for the allegations that have been made.
It was subjective media coverage at its best.
As I had previously said, I have not written this to chastise one side over the other—I simply wanted to point out what had happened, and what had been missed in the post-match hubbub.
If Villa does not receive any discipline or penalty for effectively sucker-punching an innocent player—not just once, but twice, mind you—then any ruling against Mourinho would be nothing less than hypocrisy.