Friday, June 9, 2023

Football embarrassed by two of the greats

I hope they are embarrassed

I’ve had to leave it twenty-four hours before I wrote this because I was too cross to write it before. Like many millions of people around the world I tuned in on Wednesday evening to watch a game of football that should have been an absolute joy. It was a game between arguably the best two club sides in the entire world. If ever there was an advertisement for the game, this was it.


What I watched, unfortunately, was an embarrassment. As someone who regards himself as a football man, I was totally embarrassed by what I saw. I believe that UEFA should fine both teams for their appalling behaviour and for putting on a show that shamed the game.

Yes, Barcelona passed the ball nicely. Yes, Real Madrid defended reasonably well for an hour or so. Yes, Lionel Messi produced a moment of genius that confirmed him as the best player on the planet. All of that is true, but it is also true that the game was little short of a disgrace.


Real Madrid were mind numbingly negative. Jose Mourinho beat Barcelona last year with an Inter team that was made to defend. That was the only way they could challenge Barcelona and it was right and clever management. To adopt the same tactics with a team containing the likes of Ronaldo, Ozil, Di Maria and the rest, against a team missing half their regular back four, is at best defeatist, and at worst, disappointing.

Barcelona were more positive, but a majority of their passing was sideways or backwards and of about five yards. They were as happy with a goalless draw as Real MAadrid quite obviously were.


That was the football, which apart from Messi’s moment of magic, was somewhere between boring and incredibly boring. We could all cope with that in a semi-final first leg because although we wanted great football we knew that in a first leg, both teams would be understandably cagey. What we couldn’t cope with was the rest of the childish and unpleasant rubbish that went with it.

I love the way Barcelona play football. I admire them and think they are the best team in the world. In spite of that, I lost an awful lot of respect for them at the Bernabeu on Wednesday. Some of the tackling was questionable, the diving was outrageous, the play acting to try to get someone booked was pitiful and the surrounding of the referee by eight or nine players, sometimes including the goalkeeper, every time a Real Madrid player committed the slightest foul was nothing short of a disgrace. I won’t even dignify the idiot of a reserve goalkeeper with an opinion.


I love Jose Mourinho as a manager and I admire Real Madrid as a club. In spite of that, I lost an awful lot of respect for them at the Bernabeu on Wednesday. Some of the tackling and off the ball challenges were questionable, the negativity of the team was disappointing and they weren’t far behind Barcelona with their diving, play acting and harranguing of the referee.

Add to the disgraceful spectacle the fact that the two managers have forgotten how to behave and we had an embarrassment for the two clubs, Spanish football, European football and football in general.


They might be two fantastic sides but I’d rather watch Blackburn against Stoke in the Premier League every time.

There, I’m glad I didn’t write that when I was cross!


Graham Fisher



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