So much for the 'beautiful game'
So much for the 'beautiful game'. It was Pele who coined the phrase and I don't think last night's Barca-Inter kerfuffle was quite what he had in mind.
Of course, Pele played football in a different age - if you want to see what players could get away with in them days just watch a clip of him against Portugal in 1966.
Last night was worse in that it was a game built on deviousness, rather than attacking creativity. The fact that Mourinho was involved is hardly coincidental.
Sometimes I reckon when he slags off the opposition pre-match he's really talking about himself. He said Barca were obsessed with getting to the Bernabeu, and who could disagree, but if you think he wasn't a tad preoccupied just check out his winning gesture. I interpreted it as 'Translate this, Catalans!'
Of course, Barca are the darlings of world football, what with their lovely kit and their ability to move the ball around being so superior it's become known as the 'surpassing' method. And there's the charitable donations to Unicef. All unimpeachable stuff.
But children don't need to be copying Sergi Busquets, who completely Rivaldo-ed Thiago Motta. Motta should have kept his hand down, yes, and he probably would have been sent from the field any road cos a booking was nailed on, but Busquets rolled around like he'd been thumped by David Haye.
Sergi Busquets falls dramatically to the ground following Thiago Motta's challenge
It was typical of the game as a whole. Inter worked very hard on the darker defensive arts. Depending on your point of view it was brilliant or rugged or dirty. Lucio, a great defender in many ways, spent half the game doing Drogba impressions. I've never seen such a lot of bleating. It was like watching a mammoth complain about a splinter.
Walter Samuel may sound like he's off've The Archers but if he was he's be half-inching ploughs and selling knock-off tomatoes from someone else's greenhouse, and never getting caught.
Julio Cesar is an incredibly reliable Brazilian goalie. Time was when your average gold n green keeper was an converted centre forward still desperate to show his flair and individuality, and as such couldn't catch a cold let alone a cross. Nowadays, they treat the job seriously - and with Dunga's array of muscular defenders and ankle-tapping midfielders, the Copacabana samba football has gone all military two-step.
Inter also had the mighty Cambiasso, who Maradona won't pick for the Argentine national team which tells you all you need to know about the managerial 'hand of God'.
Faced with this brick wall of resistance, Barca opted for a twin approach: one, keep tip-tapping back and forth but never get to the byline; two, throw yourself on the deck every time the ball gets put into the box (I swear lemmings must be born and bred Barca fans). Oh and three, give it to Messi and cross your fingers.
It was like watching a big brother trying to resist while a more talented and but horribly spoilt younger brother tries his damnedest to win any which way.
Ibrahimovic, featured in an incredibly laboured ad for a pair of footy boots during the commercial break, and then shown to be not very good at using them on the pitch, lost half his shirt at one point. I still think the bloke's just Paul Mariner with a fancier name. Young Pep must agree cos he decided to take the big lunk off and put the centre-half up there instead.
Jose Mourinho celebrates Inter's win with typical exuberance
Mourinho was of course at the centre of it all, thriving on the injustice and buzzing around Guardiola like a wasp with a persecution complex. He appears to be ridiculously paranoid, but then again, what if he's right? What if everybody really does hate him?
Clearly he's not Serie A's cup of cappuccino, not least cos he appears to have banished all things Italian from the club. He makes Wenger look like the sort of bloke who has St. George's flags flapping from every window. And no one likes a stirrer.
Truth be told, Busquets' writhing left the majority of us hoping for I Nerazurri to pull it off. And to stifle such a gifted side so easily is very impressive, as Guardiola was generous enough to concede.
The final will see Mourinho up against another ex-Barca man, van Gaal, for whom you would assume the Portuguese might have a bit of respect. I doubt that'll stop him prodding his stick into the hornets' nest one more time, mind. Inter to win 2-1 is my prediction (and Mourinho to claim responsibility for the waxing and waning of the moon afterwards.)
Expect a little more integrity on display tonight when the heir apparent to Sir Bobby Robson's role as nicest Englishman in football, Roy Hodgson, seeks to take a paper-thin squad all the way to the final on the back of good football and earnest endeavour. All the best, sir. And may your team play like grown men, and not play-acting stage school ninnies whose parents haven't told them how to conduct themselves properly.