The Herald of Galácticos

Jose Mourinho must beat Barcelona in a way that upholds Real Madrid's status in the world.
Share |

Image via Wikimedia Commons

At heart, every football club is as pompous as a lord mayor's chain of office. For example, supporters of clubs from Anglophone lands are wont to sing, regardless of their side's actual stature, that theirs is "by far the greatest team the world has ever seen." There's a real sincerity to this, a parental certainty that the idiot overspill of their loins really is special. But it's modified by irony. Within football clubs, dopey romanticism and bitter realism exist alongside one another. They know that their grandiloquence isn't backed by the merest whiff of evidence. It's barely even an aspiration.

Whereas most clubs are scruffy hamlets hoping the world hasn't forgotten them completely, Real Madrid and Barcelona–who play each other in the Spanish league tomorrow–are empires. They are masters of self-aggrandisement, all royal flash and ermine undergarments. They do have the evidence to back up their claims of greatness, and boy do they know it. They flaunt their wealth–supplied by their worldwide fanbases, individualised TV deals, and flexible bank managers–which is made flesh in the form of the most dazzling collections of talent in the world game today. They are comfortably the most successful teams in Spanish history, and in recent years, the gap between them and the rest of the La Liga has become so chasmic that their seasons are basically separated into Clásicos and the times between Clásicos. So rampant have the pair been in the bits in between that their games against each other take on an outsized significance. When two great pomposities meet, the results are spectacular and inevitable, in the same way the dying sun swallowing the Earth will be spectacular and inevitable, except that we get to witness this particular supernova via television and web streams of dubious legality.

For such cold warriors, every defeat is felt twice, the second defeat being the enemy's triumph. Pep Guardiola became Barcelona manager in 2008, won a treble of league, cup and Champions League in his first years, and took the league title again in 2010. These seasons were punctuated by what seemed like ritual slaughters of Real Madrid, most pointedly a 6-2 at the Bernabéu in May 2009. Worse than this for Real was that Barça were being earnestly compared to the greatest teams in history, a pantheon which included the Real side that won the first five European Cups, between 1956 and 1960). Madrid were in despair. This was more than just an obstacle to overcome: it was a humiliation to be erased, a revolution to be reversed, a natural order to be restored.

Enter the smoothest, stubbliest sherrif around. José Mourinho had worked a small miracle in coaching Porto to Champions League success in 2004, and he more or less made the modern Chelsea in his image (with the help of owner Roman Abramovich's oil-gotten gains). When Barcelona decided to appoint Guardiola instead of him, he went to Inter, whom he led in 2010 to their first European championship in 45 years, defeating Barcelona along the way. Mourinho got things done, and made sure we all knew about it. In a few short years, he had constructed a self-image, an aura–a myth, in the non-pejorative sense–of a magnitude it takes most football clubs decades to amass. When Madrid hired him in 2010, they were arguably hiring the best. But by putting themselves in his hands, they were also dangerously close to acknowledging a demotion in their status. This was in effect, a test of the power of this most insane of rivalries.

Mourinho's first derbi español became a piece of instant football lore: Real lost 5-0 to an inspired Barcelona performance. Yet arguably more interesting was what happened towards the end of the season. Owing to a combination of circumstances (chief amongst which was the teams' own brilliance), the pair were scheduled to meet four times in three competitions in two-and-a-half weeks at the end of April and the beginning of May. The first game turned out to be a non-event, a 1-1 league draw which handed the title to Barça. The second, the Copa del Rey final, was a hard-fought and well-deserved extra-time victory for Real. But the real follow-up to the manita, and the key matches in the current slice of Clásico history, were the two legs of the Champions League semifinal.

In the 5-0 game, Real had attempted something of a proactive reply to Barcelona's dominant approach, pushing the defence up the field and attempting to disrupt Barça of their precious possession. Mourinho was onto something, but the latter part of the strategy failed, leaving the former amounting to a giant "KICK ME" sign. Mourinho's response in the first leg of the Champions League tie was not to modify, nor to find a new proactive approach, but to go entirely reactive. During his time at Chelsea, Mourinho introduced the phrase "parking the bus" into the English football lexicon to describe a team that played with as many players behind the ball as they could muster at any given time. In this match, Real parked the fleet. The playing of what might be described by some as football was hardly even an afterthought. One of the strongest images of the season was the sight of Cristiano Ronaldo--the Cristiano Ronaldo--reduced to flailing around upfront, all on his own with no help, like an insect sprawled on a pin and feeling damned grumpy about it too.

Just as Real and Barça could be said to consist of pure essence of football club, so too is Mourinho the Übermanager. Half a modern coach's role is public relations, because his career depends on it. A manager is a politician in perpetual reelection mode, a huckster whose product is himself. He must always give the impression that he's in control, because that is what sells: to supporters, to the media, and ultimately to his bosses. Paul Whitehouse's Mourinho send-up might be called José Arrogantio and end every interview with a pout to camera, but Mourinho is just better at it than other managers. Here was a man who would ride into town and do things his way, because he knew. He has a reputation for always making his teams play dour football, but this is inaccurate, and anyway, it misses the point. Mourinho does what's practical with a ruthless disregard for aesthetic, historic or diplomatic niceties. Or rather, that's the image he conveys. He's very good, but even he can fall short.

Perhaps he just backed his own judgement of himself when he sent Real out to play like that in the first leg. Perhaps Barcelona had just gotten under his skin. Either way, it was an extraordinary decision. "Parking the bus" is a legitimate tactic, one that had even had some success applied against Barça by other teams. But Madrid were not supposed to be just another team. In the previous season's league, they had amassed just three points fewer than Barcelona's almost incredible 99. Madrid may have been underdogs, but they weren't that far under: they were at least the second best team in the world. They may even have been the best, had they given themselves the chance. They had the weapons at their disposal to overcome their hated opponents; what they did was take an AK47 and try to poke Barça to death with it. They had fallen into the trap of playing the idea of Barcelona rather than just playing Barcelona. They played like one of the tame rabbits they and Barça corral to take potshots at in between Clásicos. All they had done was enable the myth of Barcelona's invincibility; they lost 2-0, almost dutifully. It was a gesture of submission. They were not Real Madrid: they were Generic Barcelona Opponents.

Mourinho being Mourinho, he and his team were, naturally, blameless. He had never looked so mortal, and his post-match press conference sounded like Kim Jong-il blaming the Americans for his cold soup. But he had enough willing dupes that he wasn't dismissed unanimously. More importantly, he wasn't dismissed by Real Madrid. Madrid presidents have been notoriously trigger-happy over the years, but Mourinho was getting a rare second chance. He had failed, but they still needed him. He was the high priest who might possess The Secret.

And he really might. In the second leg, Real played more like themselves; they played Barça, not the Wizard. They sought to impose themselves rather than merely disrupt. It may have been from necessity and not high concept, and the 1-1 draw was not enough to save their season, but Real found themselves again. In the Super Cup at the beginning of this season, again against Barcelona, Real took that attitude and applied it mercilessly. They lost 5-4 on aggregate, but Barcelona had never looked so uncomfortable in the Guardiola era. Madrid had laid down a marker for the season to come. What's more, in doing this, Mourinho has revealed two fascinating things about himself and the Real-Barça dynamic. Firstly: even a Great Man such as he can find it hard to impose his will on such a weird, weird world. Secondly: by easing off from being so Mourinho the whole time, he can unleash his full Mourinhoness on the situation. He still goes in for the same bluster and shit-stirring, but so far this season, he hasn't tied himself up in knots with his own cleverness. Real have a three-point lead with a game in hand, and they go into this first league Clásico of the season with a swagger unseen in years. But it's one thing to cultivate that swagger before a Clásico; it's quite another to display it in a Clásico. If they can do that, and especially if Barcelona can respond to it, stand well back.


Share |

Comments

Glowpink is a Women only 360° Health Community, wherein women can discuss their beauty, health & wellness problems. Here women can post queries and answer other's related to topics, including but not limited to, beauty, health, parenting, lifestyle, and fashion. Here we also try to connect best of the experts in related areas to the users. how to reduce pimples

Exceptionally valuable post. This is my first time i visit here. I discovered such a large number of fascinating stuff in your site particularly its exchange. Truly its awesome article. Keep it up. http://www.SomaliLife.net

I high welcome this post. It's elusive the great from the terrible here and there, yet I think you've nailed it! would you psyche upgrading your online journal with more data? outsourcing software companies

Although more men are enrolled at FVTC this year, more women graduated with diplomas or two-year degrees, according to schoolrecords. Gadget and Tech News

Amazing! This could be a standout amongst the most helpful web journals we have ever run over on thesubject. Really superb data! I'm additionally a specialist in this theme so I can comprehend your exertion. mobile auto detailing orlando

A debt of gratitude is in order for a superb offer. Your article has demonstrated your diligent work and experience you have in this field. Splendid .i adore it perusing. Sprinkler Installations

"If those students have something come in the job market, they say they would leave in a heartbeat and go back to work," Jorgensen said. "There are also a lot of students who understand the value of completion." purchasetramadol.co

MoneyIsWhat.com is a one stop destination for all information and advice related to personal finance, credit cards, loans, mortgages, credit score and more.. MoneyIsWhat.com forum is for the people by the people community focused on issues and problems related to personal finance , where in you could post your queries and get answers from people who had gone through a similar experience already or experts in that category, alternatively you could also post your experiences and help other people with their questions and problems related to personal finance. how much does a financial advisor cost

This is very interesting, but it is necessary to click on this link: TV Series Free

I can give you the address Here you will learn how to do it correctly. Read and write something good. Cinema Movies

Actually I read it yesterday but I had some thoughts about it and today I wanted to read it again because it is very well written. New Movies

I should assert barely that its astounding! The blog is informational also always fabricate amazing entitys. 123movies

Much obliged to you for extremely usefull data.. cheap 12 x 18 canvas print

A debt of gratitude is in order for a superb offer. Your article has demonstrated your diligent work and experience you have in this field. Splendid .i adore it perusing. site

Awesome blog. I enjoyed reading your articles. This is truly a great read for me. I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles. Keep up the good work! Flower delivery brazil

A debt of gratitude is in order for a superb offer. Your article has demonstrated your diligent work and experience you have in this field. Splendid .i adore it perusing. Repair your iPhone now

I might want to say this online journal truly persuaded me to do it! Much appreciated, great post. how to build a dog fence

Pleasant post. I was checking continually this online journal and I am inspired! To a great degree accommodating data uniquely the last part I watch over such information a considerable measure. I was looking for this specific data for quite a while. Much obliged to you and good fortunes. Webhosting

I discovered your this post while hunting down some related data on website search...Its a decent post..keep posting and upgrade the data. economical 55 printers

A debt of gratitude is in order for a superb offer. Your article has demonstrated your diligent work and experience you have in this field. Splendid .i adore it perusing. temporary protection

Incredible data! I as of late went over your site and have been perusing along. I thought I would leave my first remark. I don"t comprehend what to say aside from that I have. cheapest postcard printers

http://www.markedsindex.dk/blog/B992/Koncertbussen-Fyn.aspx Actually I am not habituate to reply a comment on blogs but this blog caught my attention and I am compelled to write a comment here to express my gratitude to you. I would like to appreciate for this awesome work.

Much obliged to you for peopling get the data they require. Extraordinary stuff of course. Keep up the colossal work!!! designer wear

Took me time to understand all of the comments, but I seriously enjoyed the write-up. It proved being really helpful to me and Im positive to all of the commenters right here! designer leather handbag

I use only high quality materials - you can see them at: watch series free

For many people this is the best solution here see how to do it. gomovies

Fantastic data on your site, thank you for setting aside an ideal opportunity to impart to us.
high quality backlinks

Positive site, where did u come up with the information on this posting? I'm pleased I discovered it though, ill be checking back soon to find out what additional posts you include. Are really brilliant! Dofollow Blog Comments

Wonderful, just what a blog it is! This blog has provided the helpful data to us continue the good work. I definitely enjoying every little bit of it. It is a great website and nice share. I want to thank you. Good job! You guys do a great blog, and have some great contents. Keep up the good work. 100% Manually, So your site is safe you can get all HQ links, that definitely increase your SERPs. 20 High Quality Backlinks gig Only for fiverr members just for 5$ WOww...high trust flow backlinks

This was more than just an obstacle to overcome: it was a humiliation to be erased, a revolution to be reversed, a natural order to be restored.The large coat of arms of the Russian Empire

the sight of Cristiano Ronaldo--the Cristiano Ronaldo--reduced to flailing around upfront, all on his own with no help, like an insect sprawled on a pin and feeling damned grumpy about it too.minecraft gratuit tablette |
playstation store cards

the Real side that won the first five European Cups, between 1956 and 1960). Madrid were in despair. This was more than just an obstacle to overcome: it was a humiliation to be erased, a revolution to be reversed, a natural order to be restored.
Hendel

I like viewing web sites which comprehend the price of delivering the excellent useful resource free of charge. I truly adored reading your posting. Thank you! feldco company profile

Gives you the best website address I know there alone you'll find how easy it is. feldco

This is a good post. This post gives truly quality information. I’m definitely going to look into it. Really very useful tips are provided here. feldco jobs page

I was pinning away for such type of blogs, thanks for posting this for us. feldco twitter profile

You are doing the very nice job guys by your efforts people will get much knowledge on the latest things well. Feldco's Facebook page

Checking any blog may make others just want to come up with a greater number of. webinar jeo review

Real side that won the first five European Cups, between 1956 and 1960). Madrid were in despair. This was more than just an obstacle to overcome: it was a humiliation to be erased, a revolution to be reversed, a natural order to be restored.jeux gratuit minecraft |
psn credit card not valid

Great site and a great topic as well I really get amazed to read this. Apprendre la photo

That will operate short-term, nevertheless it’s not only a workable long-term option pertaining to folks who want to always be achievable one particular particular young lady that they can’t end thinking of. fair trade jewelry

A colleagues will most certainly be raging on the subject of some stuff even nowadays I just explore for what reason. compagnie de demanagement

Document was aware of the fact that impact was first only just all the foreign language benefit from it also yet seemed problematic. At this time it’s definitely do- effective. With thanks for those support. arnp ceu

Buy backlinks I was very pleased to find this site. I definitely enjoying every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post Dofollow Blog Comments

Not long ago i experienced a particular make available for you to do a remarkable on a online site. Spot ? help and advice everybody to have this unique through the best ways potential? gold plated gifts

As i considered together your site because May possibly learned a lot of around ones own content articles.
halloween

From check on your blog, you've gotten previously had a relatively good feel by means of making. authority site review

The appearance positively wonderful. All of these miniature info are fashioned utilizing massive amount historical past experience. I want it all significantly. african hairstyles

I can seek web-sites having applicable information on presented subject matter and gives those to educator your judgment along with the document. Silk Necktie

Need to investigation web pages by using suitable home elevators supplied issue and give the theifs to coach all of our impression as well as posting. real estate investing