The SuperCopa De Espana 2011 Final: Is Football Just a Game or Much More?
Everyone's cursing Jose Mourinho these days after the SuperCopa de Espana 2011. Yes, we're talking about Real Madrid's current head coach who likes playing "head games" with people even if it means resorting to acts of physical prodding and poking from behind—which was a bit "girlie," to say the least.
The second match of the SuperCopa de Espana was clear evidence that Real Madrid didn't mind taking out Cesc Fabregas by any means necessary (and as unsavory as that sounds) just so that they could perhaps dampen the joy associated with Barca's winning streak for sometime now—say hello to Barca's Sextuple in 2008 and what they've won since then!
Of course, there are reputations to be held and losing is not an option especially when it comes to the El Clasico, but at what cost? Is it fair to Cesc? Should this be condoned on the football field?
History tells us that the modern day El Clasico is but a rerun of the long-held sentiments of Catalanism vs. Spanish nationalism, albeit on the football field! It isn't just about winning here, but upholding a tradition that both sides have come to represent over the years—and rather passionately at that too!
This has nothing to do with the mindless football hooliganism of the '80s or the '90s (the Heysel Stadium Disaster, anyone?), but stems from a long history of regionalism that will perhaps never be resolved.
So can you put a player's career on the line, and do what Marcelo did, in defense of tradition? Or is it just professional jealousy especially since Cesc, Barca's prodigal son, was welcomed with open arms? Or is it just the fact that Real Madrid was getting tired of losing?
It's all of them, really. Or so I think.
Football is a competitive team sport, and gets tougher by the year, just in case you haven't noticed. You don't see one-man dribbling extravaganzas anymore that Maradona and Pele immortalized, thanks to tight man-marking, professional fouls and the abundant use of technology that coaches use to analyze these players in order to keep them in check. Of course, Messi seems to be the exception.
No one understands this better than Barcelona, and if you notice, their wins have come through sheer teamwork, quick (and simple) passes that stems from a clear understanding of their opponent's weaknesses and strengths.
One might attribute a lot of their wins to Messi (which is true), Pedro, Villa with midfield players like Xavi and Iniesta playing their roles to perfection. Yet it's just teamwork that has seen them through time and time again!
Trust me, Victor Valdes has the easiest job on the planet.
It's something that Real Madrid seems to lack, which is a result of ignoring the "homegrown players" approach. And it doesn't look like Madrid will be able to muster their efforts (with their current crop of expensive foreign players) to produce results such as Barca's for some time.
Of course, if you're a Madrid fan, this would be even more frustrating than ever, but if you're a Barca fan, you'd know how much fun it is to effortlessly stay on top. And God, have we waited for a lifetime to see days like these.
You must understand that with the combination of football and television (not forgetting the large amounts of betting money), the game gets a lot of attention from fans, media and football gurus alike. And almost all of us know that if football isn't played with heart (read: "passion" to a lesser degree), there won't be any titles to take home!
So, was Marcelo ethical with his foul on Cesc?
Probably not, but these are the realities of football today, and the media should be smart enough to expect such extreme events to occur in modern day football rather than raising such a hue and cry about footballing ethics. You have to understand that these players are the gladiators of our times, and injuries are part and parcel of a career in football—even if it isn't fair!
My apologies for presenting the hard truth but this isn't a beauty contest for popularity where how people look and what they say is most important, but a war, a war that must be won even if it means making sacrifices—and you shouldn't expect any less as a Barca player and in being worth about €65 million!
Trust me, if there's anything that Mourinho is good at, it is talking trash and playing dirty, that's how he plays the game, and he won't be changing that approach for a softer one anytime soon—despite the rants of millions of fans and the media around the world. And if you think he really cares about the media, you've got another thing coming!
To me, the SuperCopa de Espana 2011 final only clarified a couple of things: Real Madrid has lost the plot, and in the harsh world of football, it means that they've tied themselves in a knot which is a bad place to be—and Marcelo's frustration and the ensuing fracas is an omen of things to come in the upcoming 2011-12 season!
And you can be sure that there will be more of these shocking incidents because if there's anything that is true of football (as opposed to cricket), it is anything but gentlemanly. And perhaps it's this idea of 22 men plus two referees roughing it out on a field is what makes it the most popular sport in the world today.
Yet there's no doubt that, in the game of football, (and as Guardiola puts it nicely) all it takes is one mistake for passions to run too high—and for things to get ugly—and which is why we must ensure that incidents like the Heysel Stadium Disaster are never repeated!
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