Monday, January 16, 2006

Sweet Sixteen *groan*

2-1, sixteen wins in a row, with goals from Ronaldinho and Messi after going 0-1 down to a header from Llorente after only fifteen minutes. Barcelona were, from what I saw of the highlights of the first half, all over the place until 'dinhos penalty brought them level. They were much, much better in the second, Mark Van Bommel in particular was dominant in midfield.

Whatever of the match though, it's what was said afterward by Bilbao coach Javier Clemente that's getting all the attention today. In the 90th minute Deco took a rather blatant dive on the edge of the Bilbao area. Carlos Gurpegui, taking acception to this kind of blousy behaviour said something to our Portugese playmaker who promptly got up and clouted Gurpegui around the back of the head and pulled his hair (yes really). Within seconds everyone was involved, lots of pushing, shoving and other instances of handbaggery with Deco having to be lead off the pitch by Frank Rijkaard.

In the two minutes or so that remained there was plenty more posturing and just a little bit of spitting in the face of Unai Expósito by Samuel Eto'o. Contemptable as Eto'os actions were it was nothing compared to Clementes post match statement that "I thought that spitting was something only done by those who have just come down from the trees."

In sharp contrast to the muted reaction to Luis Aragones calling Thierry Henry a "black shit", the media response in Spain today has been damning. Whether this is down to Clemente being about as popular with spanish journalists as Tana Umaga at a Landsdowne Road as opposed to actual outrage at his comments is open to debate, Clemente is a disagreeable sort who has few friends in the media, born mostly of his spell in charge of the national team. That said it's a start for a country that regularly sweeps instances of racial abuse at football matches under the carpet or issues laughable fines to those clubs involved.

Read Sid Lowes article on Clemente from todays Guardian.

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