Thursday, 29 April 2010

Victory for Evil over Good

Last night’s contest ended in a manner that is becoming increasingly synonymous with ‘The Special One’. Sprinklers were never going to be enough to douse the explosive pandemonium that Jose Mourinho precipitated on Catalonia, from the prerequisite mind games to his post-match grapple with Victor Valdes. Along with the psychological jousts, Mourinho has lifted another powerful weapon from Sir Alex Ferguson’s arsenal in the perennial underdog mentality, and instilled it in his Internazionale side with perturbing effectiveness. Thiago Motta’s unfair dismissal before the half-hour mark was the perfect compliment for Mourinho’s ‘us against the world’ mindset, and undoubtedly catalysed Inter’s unsightly but admirable robustness. The white-clad warriors, led laudably by Samuel, Lucio, Zanetti, and Cambiasso soaked up the pressure exerted by Barca’s playmakers of Xavi, Pedro, Toure Yaya, and Dani Alves with discernable content. Consequently, Ibrahimavic looked woefully alienated, while Cambiasso and Chivu quickly shackled Messi’s habit of cutting inside onto his left foot. For all their possession, Barcelona appeared hopelessly casual and unimaginative, sending cross after cross into Julio Cesar’s penalty area, when a white shirt was always first to every ball. There is no exonerating Inter repulsive tactic of hooking the ball into Barcelona’s half with frustrating constituency, waiting for the resultant wave of attack, before winning the ball and repeating the cycle all over again. However, the discipline and organisation with which Internazionale operate is reminiscent of that among armed forces, which is how ten protagonist’s, most of whom are in their thirties, managed to subdue a Barca side that Catalan fans claim to be one of the best in their illustrious history. As every neutral would assert, Inter’s victory came against everything that symbolised the aesthetic joy provided by football at its elite. At optimum performance, Barcelona’s scintillating ball-playing should surely be classified as one of the world’s great wonders. The seamless and ravishing beauty of Barca’s ‘Total Football’ permits their defenders, midfielders and strikers to interchange and reciprocate impeccably, exemplified by the dexterity of Pique’s stunning finish.
Mourinho’s tactical astuteness will likely win Internazionale their first European trophy for forty-five years, having strategically outplayed and conquered the two most potent threats of the tournament, Chelsea and Barcelona. But for all his narcissistic egotism, I hope Arjen Robben can produce another flash of brilliance in Madrid to bring Mourinho back down to earth.

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