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Morbo, 'El Mega Duelo' and Mourinho

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Phil Minshull | 07:30 UK time, Tuesday, 15 September 2009

The undoubted eye-catcher of the opening round of the Champions League group stages is Barcelona's visit to Inter Milan.

With a cast of stars of the world game and characters like Jose Mourinho basking in the limelight, it's a game that has, as the Spanish would say, plenty of morbo about it.

zlat_apjpg.jpgZlatan Ibrahimovic in action for Barcelona against Getafe

As Phil Ball said in his excellent book with the same title that came out a few years ago, it's a word that entails a lot of slippery little notions that just won't rub shoulders with a convenient English synonym.

A sense of what it may entail can be grasped by just looking at El Mundo Deportivo's front page on Monday.

The Barcelona-based - and Barcelona-biased - daily sports newspaper naturally focused on the impending battle for supremacy between Barca's Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Inter's Samuel Eto'o, who swapped sides during the summer.

"Eto'o-Ibra, El Mega Duelo," trumpeted its headline. "The champion will make its debut in Milan in a clash con morbo between the two best number nines". (By the way, that's me partially translating the last sentence.)

You get the idea. This isn't a Spanish lesson but morbo in a footballing context means a game with that bit extra about it.

There's been plenty written about how both Ibrahimovic and Eto'o fell out of love with the clubs where they had been previously cherished.

Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola almost simultaneously decided that the time was right to get rid of their two dressing room prima donnas.

Both strikers scored for their new clubs at the weekend and have since wasted no time in telling the Spanish and Italian media about how much it would mean for them to get one over their old employers in the San Siro on Wednesday.

Then there is also the issue of Mourinho entertaining the club with whom he has had the quintessential love-hate relationship.

He spent four years at Barca in the late 1990s, starting off as a translator and coaching dogsbody for Bobby Robson and stayed on in a more formal role as an assistant coach to his successor Louis van Gaal until 2000.

In that era Mourinho was a well-liked, if slightly peripheral, figure at the club. But he managed to build up a useful network of contacts including Johan Cruyff, who remains a hugely influential figure behind the scenes, and current Barca president Joan Laporta.

Laporta at the time was an ambitious young lawyer battling against Barca's board of directors.

After winning the Portuguese double and also the Uefa Cup with Porto in 2003, Mourinho could have easily ended up back at Barca, when Frank Rijkaard hit a rocky patch during the 2003-04 season.

Winning the Champions League in 2004 continued to keep Mourinho's name in the frame whenever there was debate about who would take over from Rijkaard.

The next part of the story is well-known. Rather than hop across the Iberian peninsula, Mourinho decided to gorge himself on Roman Abramovich's largesse.

jose_ap_jpg.jpgInter Milan coach Jose Mourinho

Nevertheless, there was still an enduring sense that one day Mourinho would still end up back at Barca, at least until several bad-tempered Champions League matches in 2005 and 2006.

The affection of the cules - the local name for Barcelona fans - for "The Special One" declined rapidly after Mourinho infamously decided to get up close and personal with Rijkaard.

"When I saw Rijkaard enter the referee's changing-room at half-time I couldn't believe it. When Drogba was sent off I wasn't surprised," said the then Chelsea manager after the Barca v Chelsea fixture in 2005.

The following season, Mourinho made the unforgivable mistake of publicly accusing the new Barca icon of trying to fool the referee.

"Can Messi be suspended for acting? Barcelona is a cultural city with many theatres and this boy has learned very well," said Mourinho, after his side had been beaten by Barca 2-1 at Stamford Bridge.

At the start of last season, his name still cropped up in the media as one of the contenders for the vacant Barca job.

However, his old friend Laporta decided not to further endanger his fragile relationship with the Barca fans - a vote of no confidence against him received 60% support in the summer of 2008 - opting instead for the unproven option of the Catalan born-and-bred reserve team coach Guardiola.

The gamble paid off spectacularly as Guardiola went on to do the unprecedented triplete last season and the chances of Mourinho ever being employed again at the Camp Nou now seem remote.

The current Barca reserve team coach Luis Enrique Martinez - another ex-player and local hero despite five seasons in his early career being spent at bitter rivals Real Madrid - is also being groomed to follow in the footsteps of Guardiola, leaving Mourinho looking like he'll permanently be on the outside but seemingly happy to play the role of agent provocateur-at-large to the Catalans.


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  • 1. At 08:24am on 15 Sep 2009, redandblackT-Save 606 wrote:

    Hopefully Barca will triumph spectacularly to put Jose in his place.Ibra has settled in nicely in Catalonia scoring in both La Liga games and setting up Messi in the last game but this will be his first test in Blaugrana colours.I expect a great game.

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  • 2. At 08:37am on 15 Sep 2009, wedontknowfootball wrote:

    i'm a huge admirer of samuel eto'o and a barca fan. when they sold him, and at the same time signed zlatan ibrahimovic for 40m i thought that was one of the wackiest deal ever.

    somehow ibra is making his mark in the la liga with his goals, and eto'o too. ibra will score more goals as he has lionel messi, xavi and iniesta behind him, but eto'o is just a different class ahead of the swede.

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  • 3. At 08:37am on 15 Sep 2009, CharlieDontSurf wrote:

    It would have been nice for this tie to come a little further into the season. If both teams had been peaking it could have offered up a classic - indeed it still could, but unlikely at this early stage.

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  • 4. At 08:39am on 15 Sep 2009, GuusMourEss wrote:

    Barca is not quite the team they were last year and are missing Iniesta badly. Ibra has not quite yet gotten into the Blaugrana rhythm yet even though he has scored in each game. Inter has the upper hand due to home advantage as well as having one of the best tacticians in the game. It's gonna be a game to behold for sure and don't be surprised if Jose becomes the Catalan coach in a few years to come.

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  • 5. At 09:29am on 15 Sep 2009, omegaSoodaBondai wrote:

    Havent seen Barca play this season, but I imagine theyre missing a bit of the fluidity that comes with having a versatile, mobile little-er striker like Eto'o. Not to mention a superior out and out goal scorer. Perhaps a serious bid for David Villa would have been a good option?

    Of course the flip side is having that 'out ball' who can hold it up and who is good and getting others in play- and two goals in two is not a bad start at all from Ibra.

    He is an arrogant git but im in the 'he's a genius' club and I do hope he scores loads - particularly in the CL where he has been below par till now.

    Oh and Eto'o scored a real corker against Parma over the weekend.

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  • 6. At 09:33am on 15 Sep 2009, Wardy4Ireland wrote:

    Our league is much poorer wihout Jose's pearls of wisdom. Hope he returns one day, top man

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  • 7. At 09:42am on 15 Sep 2009, Gazamundo wrote:

    Tell you what annoys me - he took the effort to get Camp Nou right and then says 'in the San Siro'. Inter play at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, San Siro is the sports complex. And if you are going to refer to San Siro there should be no 'The'.

    Picky I know, and other than that a good read :-) Forza Nerazzurri!

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  • 8. At 10:00am on 15 Sep 2009, collie21 wrote:

    morbo = " a tasty little match up"

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  • 9. At 10:04am on 15 Sep 2009, U11846789 wrote:

    If you'd like Sweden and Denmark including in your blog...

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  • 10. At 10:28am on 15 Sep 2009, John Quinlan wrote:

    Ibrahimovic is a flat track bully that only shows up against smaller sides, ask any Swedish supporter. My prediction is that if he plays he will go missing and of the two Eto'o would get my vote.

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  • 11. At 11:45am on 15 Sep 2009, mtirfan wrote:

    I just cannot make sense of the 40m Barca paid to Inter for the swap deal. Is that solely because of the age difference between the players?

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  • 12. At 11:51am on 15 Sep 2009, blue-eyedCatkiller wrote:

    Champion's league is bang and certainly with a big bang!!Inter Vs Barca will be an interesting clash of teams playing with different styles.As both teams looks certain and favourite(I Assume)to book there places in last 16th.I See barca winning 2-1 with a goal from Eto for Inter..
    Eto looks much more composed and naturaly talented and agile than his counter part Zlatan Ibrahimovic

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  • 13. At 12:01pm on 15 Sep 2009, messiisgod and ozil is a genius wrote:

    Ibrahimovic is a flat track bully that only shows up against smaller sides, ask any Swedish supporter. My prediction is that if he plays he will go missing and of the two Eto'o would get my vote.
    In fairness Ibrahimovic has international goals against Russia, Croatia, England, Italy, Netherlands and Spain, and his overall international record is rather good. Needless to say, his club record for Inter is outstanding, and he's started very well in a Barca shirt.

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  • 14. At 12:13pm on 15 Sep 2009, MontytheVillain wrote:

    I think it was something of a masterstroke by Guardiola to sign Zlatan, because he will really get the best out of Messi. Messi thrives off those little one-twos around the box, it's his life-blood (and the reason Argentina can't get the best out of him is because they persist in play the midgets Aguero and Tevez up front). Eto'o was always a little too eager to shoot (and he wouldn't always score), and besides, to the guy who said Zlatan doesn't show up under pressure, if you remember Eto'o in the two semi-final legs against Man Utd in 2008 he was absolutely shocking.

    I think tonight will be a draw, but a score draw mind. Mourinho's tactically clever enough to keep Barca down to a couple of goals at the most, and certainly has the attacking players to cause Barca problems (Sneijder has started his Inter career with the brilliance that makes you wonder even more incredulously why Real sold him for merely £14m). To my mind these are two of the four biggest non-English challengers for the Champions' League (the other two being Juventus and Real), so it will certainly be an interesting night.

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  • 15. At 12:22pm on 15 Sep 2009, boomshakalak wrote:

    Ibrahimovic, like Berbatov, has a style that is very easy to critices.. but the fact is that no matter what us footballing plebs think, managers with such rich pedigree as Ferguson and Guardiola vanue the quality that they bring to the team so highly that they have swapped/spent heavily on them.... even Mourinho described Ibra as the best player in the world when he played there....i realise that this would have been for obvious motivatinal reasons etc - but still he has to be a decent player to come out with a statement like that... as he wouldn't come out and say "x is the best player in the world" if he wasn't sure that he was the best player in his team!.... as it could have de-motivating effects on other players!

    The number of people that just criticise Ibra (and Berba) will always be huge - just like Cantona had his detractors... but they are class.

    That said - I think that the £40m + Eto that Barca paid was a massive fee - as i personally would take Eto ahead of Ibra anyway... never mind the cash... bu then again Barca had to buy someone big - as their rivals, Real were buying up the whole world... so they/Laporta needed to show their fans that they were also serious players...

    Barca should beat inter - not because or despite Ibra, but because player for player this barca team is arguably the best i have ever seen!

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  • 16. At 12:23pm on 15 Sep 2009, messiisgod and ozil is a genius wrote:

    MontytheVillain - I think that's an excellent post. There's already signs that Messi's understanding with Ibrahimovic will be better than it ever was with Eto'o. When looking at the transfer too many journalists and pundits just seemed to compare the goal records of the 2 players - when what really matters is how the individual fits in with the team and raises the games of his team-mates.

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  • 17. At 1:15pm on 15 Sep 2009, Liverpool Andy wrote:

    Even if Ibra scores 40 goals this season there's still no way that was a good deal for Barca, a straight swap deal may have been worth it but to pay £40m for Ibra is ridiculous and to include Eto'o on the deal as well easily makes it the most ridiculous football transfer ever!
    Bargain for Inter though.

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  • 18. At 2:03pm on 15 Sep 2009, sirjawa wrote:

    Mourinho master tactician? Yeah right! Oh I'm losing, chuck on two more strikers and take off two defenders. Wow Genius!! How does he doe it? A manager that has had most of the worlds best players at his disposal at his last two clubs yet still targets 1-0 wins and his teams play some of the dullest football ever witnessed. As a motivator and someone who can instil self belief in players he probably can't be beaten, but tactician? Absolutely not!

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  • 19. At 2:58pm on 15 Sep 2009, Stuartisgod wrote:

    So explain to me his lack of tactics when he took porto to uefa cup and champions league? none recognised as world class until later

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  • 20. At 3:40pm on 15 Sep 2009, KPisSEXY wrote:

    I've just come back from Italy and being the manager of the Serie A champions IS centre stage, trust me. He's a great manager, just ask Sir Alex. Much missed in this country, where our managers think it okay to stamp on other players' faces.

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  • 21. At 3:49pm on 15 Sep 2009, trettio wrote:

    Right. It is not even a question about Eto'o vs Ibrahimovic. They are two totally different players and couldn't be compared any more than apples and pears. Guardiola obviously has an idea of how he wants his team to play and needed Ibrahimovic to achieve this. True, Eto'o is a better goal scorer and works substancially harder off the ball than Ibrahimovic. True also that Ibrahimovic is far better at controlling the ball and keep it, make space for other players, make plays and he is not too chabby at scoring goals either, whether through luck or some exceptional skill. The fact remains, the manager is looking to use him to have more options, more difficult to close out and not be so reliant on Iniesta and Xavi for play making, Messi for making space and holding the ball, Henry and Bojan to score. In the end it depends on what you are looking for in a player, in Ibrahimovic he has got it all. However, so has Mourinho, he now has his much preferred goal poacher, that fits the Inter team much better than Ibrahimovic did. Graziest deal ever! Don't think so! Don't be surprised if these two much improved teams contest the final in May, thanks to both managers and both players. First blood and a taster of what to come, should be a great game!

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  • 22. At 4:10pm on 15 Sep 2009, Joseph wrote:

    I thought Mourinho has used the press to overrate himself. If you look at his record, he won the CL in the least competitive season and his successes in the EPL coincided with the time Arsenal, Man U and Liverpool were in steep decline. And as soon as he realized he was about to fail he abandoned ship and ended up at Inter-a club he has yet to improve in any tactical and philosophical way. As for Etoo, he was a 'problem adult' at barca and I for one was happy to see his back even if we didnt get his replacement. Ibra gives a different dimension to barca's game- as an excellent passer, an aerial threat and a clinical finisher- in comparison with Etoo's wasteful attributes. Ibra has yet to begun and when he does barca are going to be great again.

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  • 23. At 4:32pm on 15 Sep 2009, Ilicipolero wrote:

    Rule nothing out with regard to Jose Mourinho eventually taking the helm at either Barcelona or Real Madrid. In the same way Joan Laporte and Florentino Perez spare no expense and chicanery to deny each other the words top players, (Alfredo di Stefano still rankles in some Catalan quarters), the same goes for one of the best coaches in world football. Cules and Los Merengues will forgive recent past history if, whoever is in charge of their respective clubs delivers a Champions League victory.
    Without the distraction of the giant Perez ego Mourinho would probably fare better at the Catalan club. The revered Johan Cruyff wasn't always flavour of the month in either dressing or board room during his time playing for and managing Barcelona, however Cruyff was a winner. So too is Jose Mourinho! Cruyff is close to both Laporte and Mourinho and wields huge influence at the Camp Nou. What price success for the "Special Portugese One" in a fourth different European country?

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  • 24. At 4:59pm on 15 Sep 2009, SS11 wrote:

    Rightly said - Champions League cannot start off on a better note, hopefully a winning note for Barcelona.

    Mourinho is a character and he will have some plan up his sleeve to wrest initiative. Guardiola is a reserved personality and he will go doing his usual business. Let's look at a few interesting battles emerging out of today's game

    Messi vs Maicon
    Eto'o vs Puyol
    Sneijder vs Xavi

    Hmmmm, its going to be a great game, Barca to sneak it 2-1.

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  • 25. At 5:08pm on 15 Sep 2009, LincsKopite wrote:

    If both teams are fully on form, I can see this being a cracker. I know the stakes are not as high, but still...
    Could be fascinating to see how Eto'o and Ibra perform for Inter and Barca respectively.

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  • 26. At 5:29pm on 15 Sep 2009, MontytheVillain wrote:

    Messiisgod - thank you very much, and I agree very much with your name!

    To those doubters, Mourinho truly is a master tactician, almost too much so. The fact is that he's still a relatively young manager who never played to any standard, which means that, at first, he's very likely to go defensive in order to win games (rather like Rafa Benitez), and also he certainly doesn't have the idealistic attacking vision of someone like Arrigo Sacchi. As he gets older, his style may well change to one of attack. But for now, he's a magician of tactical defence - and if Inter get rid of him for not winning the CL then they're fools because, at the moment, with all of Serie A's financial troubles, Mourinho is the only thing keeping Inter among Europe's elite.

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  • 27. At 5:35pm on 15 Sep 2009, Romario84 wrote:

    Mourinho no doubt is a very good manager, however his teams tend to play very pragmatic football. The thing is at Barca boring football is very rarely practiced or tolerated. Being a fan of both sides the deal was very good for both in particular Inter whom ended up getting Eto'o and spent some of Ibra's money on Sniejder, I still reckon Inter may need another creative player unless Quaresma steps up to the mantle. This will be a very good season in both Italy and Spain considering the likes of Juve, Genoa have come on leaps and bounds as well as in spain with Real madrid and teams like valencia.

    If Mourinho can utilize Sniejder properly and get the best out of Balotelli Inter could potentially go very far, but my bet for the Champions League this year is Chelsea.

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  • 28. At 5:39pm on 15 Sep 2009, leon boylan wrote:

    In repsonse to number 18!!!

    Jose Mourinho is a genius in management terms, he worked his way up in purtugese football, Porto being the 3rd team he managed over there. In 2003 he won the leauge, the cup and the uefa leauge with Porto on a reletive shoe string budget, and the following year retained the leauge and also won the champions leauge with the same squad.
    Anybody who can suggest he did this without a special tactical knoweldge and the ability to change games clearly views football in a one dimensional manner. I understand many people do not like Mourinho, and his style of football is often not the most exciting but he gets results, FACT!!

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  • 29. At 6:30pm on 15 Sep 2009, andythetoonfan wrote:

    i think barcelona would have improved if they bought ibra or villa as they need a target man sold eto'o and bought a left sided midfeilder or striker like mata or silva so if the lacked the pace from eto'o they could play henry throught the middle but now they dont have that they have got weaker going forward and lack the intesity they had last year, inter have improved considerabiely with the signings off milito,lucio,eto'o and sneidjer they finally have some top classs players and a top class manager and have a chance of winning a champions league this year however it may have come too soon and there backup is old but Inter and Juve have gone from a very very old team to a slightly old team and i will fill there teams will only get younger and thats why AC Milan wont win the title or champions league as there still full of old players

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  • 30. At 6:32pm on 15 Sep 2009, Jack0fSpades wrote:

    Is it me or is Ibrahimovic one of the most overrated players of all time? I expect Barcelona to win but I also expect to see Ibrahimovic to put in a poor performance, as he does so regularly in the big games.

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  • 31. At 6:34pm on 15 Sep 2009, RonTarmac wrote:

    I think Inter got the better of the Ibra / Eto'o deal. Eto'o would improve any team in Europe, top centre foward and will always get goals! For me, Ibra is just another Berbatov (I'm a United fan), great player but tends to go missing too often.

    I can see Barcalona winning this one. . .

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  • 32. At 6:49pm on 15 Sep 2009, littlejklc wrote:

    Agreed with #10. Ibrahimovic is no better than Eto'o. I cannot see him scoring tomorrow night. My prediction 2-1 to Inter with Eto'o scoring twice.

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  • 33. At 7:32pm on 15 Sep 2009, cliveeta wrote:

    Pretty much the only match-up in the group stages worth watching.

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  • 34. At 8:21pm on 15 Sep 2009, DrCajetanCoelho wrote:

    Jose and Pep have squads capable of playing entertaining football. For finish Eto'o is still the most dangerous in the early stages of the game. Give him a little space and you see his name on the score board. Best wishes to Inter and Barça.

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

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  • 35. At 11:16pm on 15 Sep 2009, kalpesh wrote:

    Both of these players are way over rated. Ibra has some touches but is not a real prolific goal scorer. Eto scores goals but has the touch of an elephant. Put these two togehter and you have a Torres!

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  • 36. At 02:10am on 16 Sep 2009, Fred wrote:

    This Inter is stronger than the "Grande Inter" of the current owner's father. Both teams will go through, but Inter will humiliate Barcelona this year. Inter (Italy's team for foreigners) has the best from a number of the strongest national teams, Barcelona hasn't a chance against this year's Inter.

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  • 37. At 03:54am on 16 Sep 2009, Hristinho18 wrote:

    Zlatan is a very good player, undoubtedly. On occasion he is breathtakingly artistic and visioary with the ball. He seems very lazy and difficult to motivate. However, Eto'o is the best striker in the game, a modern Romario. When he plays, he gets goals. The fact that Barca won an unprecedented treble off the back of his goals and STILL trade him out AND pay extra for another player, means that he was obviously such a destructive influence at the club that it was affecting the team longterm. The fact that the 'other' player is Zlatan- himself a famed prima donna, more mercurial and disruptive than Eto'o, says that Barca were desperate to be rid of Eto'o, as well as 'needing' a big name replacement to sell jerseys to compete with the CR9s selling by the truckload at the Bernabeu.
    I think Inter may have negotiated one of the biggest bargains in transfer history- hopefully (being a Milan fan) I am wrong. That little Cameroonian is a thorn in the side of anyone facing him.

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  • 38. At 10:44am on 16 Sep 2009, roadrunnertog wrote:

    I remember a comment once about Gabby Agbonlahor being much stronger than he looks.That really is the case with the smaller players at the top level of the game.And bigger players tend to assume that they'll win any battle of strength or height.That is why Scholes has scored so many headers in his career.No one takes his aerial threat seriously.Et'oo might be difficult,but he's better. I like Guardiola.He comes across as a very laid back person.His leaning on Hiddink in the later stages of the infamous Chelsea-Barcelona match when things weren't looking to rosy for his side is one of the best sights in football ever.The lesson was probably lost when acrimony ensued,but we're friends through football,and the better for it.The enemy is the referee,and they're untouchable.Jose Mourinho is however the freshest thing in football.I dunno why people don't like him.That man's wit, sarcasm and insousciance can light up the dark side of the moon.He's a global treasure and Inter have upped their presence by having him.

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  • 39. At 10:45am on 16 Sep 2009, Phil Minshull wrote:


    Thanks as always to everyone who has taken the time to post comments in response to my blog.

    There has been a lot of additional debate about the money involved in the 'swap' between Ibrahimovic and Eto'o.

    Just to add my thoughts, I think it was a great bit of business for Inter as I definitely don't believe there is a €46 million disparity in value between the two players.

    Mtirfan may have had it right when he queries the issue about the ages. The other issue which may have influenced the amount of extra money involved is that Inter will lose Eto'o for up to five weeks for the African Cup of Nations. At the start of next year.

    I don't agree with everything that's written in the story that I've linked below but the writer's comments relating to Chelsea and Manchester City could equally apply to many leading European club sides, not least Inter.

    When Eto'o was at Mallorca and Barca, he came back injured from international duty at the African Cup of Nations on several occasions.

    Having said all that, I still don't think Ibrahimovic is worth €46 million more than Eto'o.

    I'm looking forward enormously to tonight's game... which I will be watching on TV in my local bar. Don't think the BBC fly me here, there and everywhere, just because I write this blog!

    In case you read Spanish, or want to start, here's a link to a Spanish sports newspaper's preview, with the likely teams. It's worth noting that most pundits in this part of the world think that Iniesta will be on the bench again as he's probably still not fit to play at his best for 90 minutes, even though he looked good when he came on as a second half sub on Saturday in Barca's 2-0 win at Getafe.

    OK, onto other stuff briefly.

    Gazamundo: you are absolutely right. The correct name for Inter's home ground is Stadio Giuseppe Meazza and San Siro is the associated sports complex. Spanish football writers often lazily refer to it as San Siro and I was following in their shoddy footsteps.

    Pokerbotlee: I tend to agree with your assessment of Jose Mourinho rather than some of the other negative comments about his ability. I think his time at Porto proved what he is capable of as a coach. His playing to the gallery in press conferences tends to obscure the fact that many players have publicly said there is a very different Jose Mourinho in the dressing room and on the training pitch.

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  • 40. At 1:02pm on 16 Sep 2009, GenesisRed wrote:

    @6 don't worry, Jose will be managing United before too long

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  • 41. At 1:29pm on 16 Sep 2009, west_chilt_warriors wrote:

    So having carefully told us that "there is much more to it than only Real and Barcelona", you proceed to write an article that only mentions Real and Barcelona.

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  • 42. At 3:45pm on 16 Sep 2009, supermokh wrote:

    Its not that easy going to the San Siro and beat Mourinho's Inter. Eto has been with Barca for a lot of seasons, he'll be key to Mourinho and Inter if they are going to stop the catalans. my guess is 2-1 to Inter. Eto scoring both of them.

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  • 43. At 10:57pm on 16 Sep 2009, VengaEspuelas wrote:

    I'm a Brit living in Barcelona and working as a translator, and I found your comments on the word 'morbo' to be very interesting! I agree, it is a difficult word to translate satisfactorily ... I tend to use 'titillating' (even though it's an adjective and not a noun like 'morbo') as it has both amorous and non-amorous connotations.

    Anyway, after reading your article on how 'morbo' was the best - perhaps the only - word to use for the Barca-Inter match, it interested me greatly to read the comments in this week's Mundo Deportivo, where one of the leading double-page spreads said that the only word to describe this game was 'feeling' (they used the English word). Funny how people the world over often reach for foreign words when really trying to express something!

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  • 44. At 5:33pm on 17 Sep 2009, ktfoot wrote:

    Phil, your suggestion that Mourinho and Cruyff are some kind of pals leads me to question your knowledge of what you're writing about, they hate each other.

    Mourinho has spoken of his contempt for Cruyff and his time at Barca, and his machiavellian behind the scenes manipulations at the time he was assistant there to Robson and Van Gaal (another Cruyff enemy).

    They weren't exactly sending each other love notes in his Chelsea period either. And is he really friends with La Porta?

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  • 45. At 07:59am on 22 Sep 2009, spainrico wrote:

    You referred to 'Morbo' Phil Ball's book on Spanish football history - it is a great read - came out more than a few years ago though! Thoroughly recommended reading for all those who want to understand more about Spanish football culture.

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