Real coach pays penalty for refusing to play fair

If they were in school they would be made to sit apart until the end of term. Barcelona and Real Madrid bring out the worst in each other. Barça, anticipating the opposition's over-physical approach, exaggerate the theatrics. Madrid – and more specifically Jose Mourinho – believe the opposition cannot be beaten at football and so do everything in their powers to stifle the beautiful game.

Mourinho quoted Albert Einstein before the game, citing willpower as the only force greater than atomic power. Another pearl of wisdom from the same genius came to mind as for the fifth game running his side finished a match against Barcelona with 10 men – "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results".

Barcelona were not blameless. Just as Sergio Busquets exaggerated Thiago Motta's foul in last season's semi-final against Internazionale so Dani Alves helped make sure Pepe walked for a challenge that while a little wild barely made contact with the full-back.

The spectacle as a whole suffered. The watching world had tuned in to see the greatest players on the planet but – Messi's sublime goal aside – the enduring images are of the referee being shielded by riot police as he left the pitch, Victor Valdes having a laser shone in his face, a brawl on the touchline at the half-time whistle and Pep Guardiola urging his players to get off the pitch on full-time as the missiles rained down.

Then there was Mourinho's post-match rant, extreme even by his standards although the topic was wearingly familiar; referees and sinister plans to favour Barça.

"I would be ashamed to have won that Champions League," Mourinho famously said of Barcelona's 2009 victory after knocking Chelsea out in the semi-finals. There was no time to ask him on Wednesday night if he felt Porto's success in 2004 had been stained by Markus Merk's decision to show Deportivo defender Andrade a direct red for a playful kick at his close pal Deco in the final minutes of the first leg, ruling him out of the second game.

Mourinho's record against Barcelona is dreadful. In 15 games his sides have suffered seven sendings-off. His teams have failed to finish their last five games against them with 11 men.

But while Pepe's dismissal might have been harsh and Sergi Busquets' theatrics earned Motta his marching orders in last season's semi-final, the three reds in between were all deserved.

"If you play with fire you get burned," said Gerard Pique after the first leg. "It's no coincidence that this always seems to happen to him." Mourinho has admitted that the battle begins in the press room before the game and this assertion seems to underpin another belief that Barça can't be beaten with just 90 minutes of football.

He creates the hostile environment in which reckless challenges and sometimes reckless refereeing decisions are more likely. His tactics also tend to strangle the possibility of an open football match where the referee might pass relatively unnoticed.

Asked about Real's reluctance to play the attacking football that would have put Barcelona under pressure, one Spanish commentator said: "After Pepe got sent off, Real Madrid couldn't, and before the red card they didn't want to."

Guardiola's side were potentially there for the taking on Wednesday night. The Spanish Cup final had been won by a powerful, positive Madrid too strong for the ever-diminishing resources of their eternal rivals. After that win at the Mestalla, Barcelona lost two more defenders to injury and then had to make do without Andres Iniesta – surely Mourinho would go on the attack in the first leg?

Even Cristiano Ronaldo seemed frustrated by the tactic of letting the opposition have the ball until they approached Madrid's final third. Barça's possession was 82 per cent in the first 15 minutes and before he was substituted at half-time, Real's most naturally gifted player Mesut Özil had made two passes.

Do you like playing this way, Ronaldo was asked after the first leg. "No, I don't, but I have to adapt to what I am told to do," was his revealing response. He was back on-message immediately afterwards echoing his manager's conspiracy theory: "These boys [Barcelona players] have a lot of power off the pitch."

Uefa will deal with that particular accusation over the coming days.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...