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Will Champions League row affect Spain's Euro 2012 chances?

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Phil Minshull | 14:03 UK time, Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Spain national team coach Vicente del Bosque always seemed to be grinning when the TV cameras panned to him sitting in the Camp Nou executive box on Tuesday night.

However, I wonder what grim thoughts were really being formed behind that famous pronounced forehead and bushy moustache as he witnessed the Champions League semi-final second leg between Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Did his remaining hair turn just a little greyer over the course of those 90 minutes, which ended with Barcelona progressing 3-1 on aggregate to the Champions League final at Wembley on 28 May, or was it my imagination?

He, of all people, probably appreciated that the fall-out from the four games in two-and-a-half-weeks between Spain's two football giants - and especially the last two - will persist long after this season's La Liga and Champions League has been decided.

One of the symptoms could be a very detrimental effect on Spain's Euro 2012 campaign.

At the moment, Spain are one of only three teams, Germany and the Netherlands being the others, who have a 100% record in the qualifiers; Del Bosque could probably pick a team without including anyone from Real and Barca and Spain would still get to the finals.

But what happens next summer?

The debate, of course, will continue indefinitely about whether Real were 'robbed' by the referees over the two legs of the Champions League or whether Barcelona were the deserved winners.

Ironically Real's win in the Copa Del Rey and the 1-1 draw in the Santiago Bernabeu, which as good as clinched the Spanish title for Barca, have been virtually forgotten in the wake of the two bitter and bad-tempered matches which followed them.

"Justice or the black hand?" asked the country's leading mainstream newspaper El Pais on Wednesday morning.

Just as with affiliations with the two clubs, this is a debate that has divided the country, as I witnessed personally on Tuesday night when I left the bar where I watched the match and walked home in the small town where I live just north of Madrid.

Passing a number of other watering holes, the issues were being hotly disputed elsewhere and several discussions looked like they were reaching boiling point and about to turn ugly. I'm sure quite a few local police forces across Spain had a busy night.

Personally, some of my sympathies lie with the two match referees Germany's Wolfgang Stark and Belgium's Frank De Bleeckere, who had an almost impossible task when a good number of players from both sides deliberately tried to fool them over the course of the two legs.

This also made me wonder why Uefa still insists on imposing foreign referees on ties involving clubs from the same country?

Even an experienced and respected official like Slovakia's Lubos Michel made hard work of controlling the 2008 Champions League final between Manchester United and Chelsea.

Wouldn't an English referee, who would have understood the nuances of a domestic tie much better, have been more appropriate on that occasion and wouldn't a pair of Spanish referees have been a wiser choice over the course of the last week?

Nevertheless, however hard the Real players may complain, these games are now history and it is Barcelona who progressed.

Uefa are not going to order a replay, however shrill and persistent are Real's cries of indignation.

Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque. Picture: AP

Vicente Del Bosque became the Spanish national team coach in 2008. Picture: AP

Returning to Del Bosque, he has now been unwittingly handed the task at national level of being thrust into the role of peacemaker between two warring groups of players, who have fallen out in spectacular and acrimonious fashion in the last couple of weeks.

The joyous and united group of 23 players who lifted the World Cup in Johannesburg - which included four Real Madrid players, seven from Barcelona, and David Villa who was soon to move from Valencia to Barca - and then paraded it deliriously around Madrid in an open-topped bus, does not seem to be a band of brothers any more.

"I haven't liked certain comments and the way that some things have happened on the field. Many people have noticed it, there's no getting around it," commented Del Bosque diplomatically on Tuesday night.

The mutual dislike and distrust that now exists between the contingents from Barca and Real Madrid in his squad is there for all to see.

Several Real players, including their erstwhile World Cup team-mates Iker Casillas and Xabi Alonso, went public with accusations about Busquets and Pedro after their over-theatrical collapsing to the ground during the first leg.

"Things between us (the Barcelona and Real Madrid players) have deteriorated," admitted Xabi Alonso, stating the obvious, on Wednesday night.

For their part, the Barca playmakers Xavi and Andres Iniesta also stoked the fire of acrimony that is now roaring between the two sets of players after the second leg.

"This club was superior, we rose to the occasion. Everyone can read into this what they want," said Iniesta.

"What we've seen is football justice. The best team got through to the final," added Xavi.

Let's be quite clear about this, on this occasion, the breakdown between the players themselves, especially when you take into consideration the foreign element on both sides, has very little, almost nothing, to do with those two very valid political stereotypes of Castilla versus Catalonia.

It's just plain old enmity.

Del Bosque now has very little time to sort things out and whatever he does will have to be a bit better than the old playground remedy of shaking hands and saying you are sorry for being rude.

Last week, it was announced that Spain will play Venezuela on 1 June in Maracaibo and then face the United States in Foxborough, just outside Boston, three days later.

It has not been the Spanish federation's habit to let their top players linger on the sidelines even for friendlies, as evidenced by the squad that was selected for last August's much-criticised game in Mexico.

Neither of their two imminent hosts, who will have paid good money for the privilege of playing the world champions, will also want to see the entire contingent of Barcelona players absent, although common sense suggests that it might be wise to leave them out considering the fact that they will have been at Wembley just a few days before.

Spain also have a game lined up against Italy in Milan on 11 August but any mediation work that Del Bosque could bring to bear at that point might be quickly undone in the following weeks as the Spanish Supercup, the traditional season curtain-raiser, will see Barcelona play Real Madrid home and away in less than a week.

At least, Spain's next serious fixture is four months away, when they restart their Euro 2012 campaign with a relatively soft match against Liechtenstein.

By then, any simmering grudges could have receded, like De Bosque's hairline, but I'm not so sure they will have.


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  • Comment number 1.

    "Personally, some of my sympathies lie with the two match referees Germany's Wolfgang Stark and Belgium's Frank De Bleeckere, who had an almost impossible task when a good number of players from both sides deliberately tried to fool them over the course of the two legs."

    Well said.

  • Comment number 2.

    Almost identical to a piece by Ian Hawkey in Sunday Times four days ago

  • Comment number 3.

    I found it hard to believe some of the diving and yellow card prompting that went on particularly when it involved team mates and possibly friends. Not just the Spanish players, but Alonso v Mascherano for example who played together for several years at Liverpool.

    I can't see how a Real Madrid side containing Adebayor, Ronaldo and Angel Di Maria can possibly complain about Barcelona players diving though. Di Maria falls over if someone glances at him. However, ironically Barca's worst offenders were the supposed big strong defensive midfielders in Busquets and Mascherano.

    And quite how the Spanish side will function (or even the Barca one) if the claims about Busquets racist comments are proven.

    I'm also wondering yet again why UEFA seems to have done so little about the racist claims off the pitch and on it, yet was so quick to criticise Spurs fans booing Adebayor and Rangers fans for supposedly singing sectarian songs. Seems once again its different rules for British sides and the rest of Europe.

  • Comment number 4.

    Won't affect Spain at all.

  • Comment number 5.

    I would put good odds on the US getting at least a draw in that match as the spanish team will not be up for it plus at home the US is not that bad they drew 1-1 with a full strength argentina side in march.

  • Comment number 6.

    Was this article about Spain or del Bosque's hair?

  • Comment number 7.

    There won't be any fallout. You are just making a story out of nothing. Football team mates don't have to be chummy to succeed. They only need a common goal.

  • Comment number 8.

    It's no different when Liverpool and Man Utd players get together or Arsenal and Chelsea (not that they have many English players between them). It's a good thing Pepe and Sergio Ramos weren't playing as they are two of the worst sinners. the ref could easily have sent off 3 Real players last night. Apart from Casillas I don't think Spain would suffer for nat having any Real players in the team.

  • Comment number 9.

    I don't think it will affect Spain. This will all blow over very soon.

  • Comment number 10.

    It won't affect any of them at all. Xavi has already come out and said that. Spain will win the euro's on 2012.

  • Comment number 11.

    Jose does it again. Inflammatory comments, players on the same national team divided, sectarian tensions resurfacing, people KILLING each other (I'm not kidding). Why does Jose do it? Not for Real Madrid, but for Jose and for Jose only.

    Barcelona beat Man United, Bayern, Arsenal, Milan and nothing happened. They lost to Liverpool, Man United and even Rubin Kazan and nothing happened. Only when this nuisance, this scourge on world football, called Jose Mourinho is involved things boil over.

    He will never admit that his win with Chelsea 6 years ago was because of a wrestling tackle by Carvalho on the goalkeeper. He will never admit that Motta's red card last season was absolutely deserved (and I'm an Inter fan). He will never admit that Carvalho, Lass and Xabi Alonso should have all seen very early reds. And of course he will never admit that all of this happened because in the Cup final, the thing that really started this off, he sent out his players with clear instructions to take out the Barca players OFF THE BALL, where it's impossible for the ref to notice. This is what made Barca counter with the diving.

    Say it like it is, analysts. I have more respect for the Real Madrid organisation because they are starting to distance themselves from this virus called Mourinho (see comments by Di Stefano and Calderon). If a legend like Di Stefano can admit it, why can't you. I hope Mourinho gets his own very soon. It's one thing to spoil the spectacle of football, but to do it with a moral high ground? History will hopefully fix this mess by giving Mourinho his rightful place: the garbage bin.

  • Comment number 12.

    The Ronaldo winking incident after Rooney got sent off in 2006 world cup saw the 2 of them got over it pretty quick when playing for Man Utd couple months later.

    Mascherano rolling around the place and the constant complaining and brandishing of imaginary cards by the Barca players is in my mind not what supposedly the best club side in the world should be doing,Messi is best player in the world by a country mile and when he gets fouled he gets up and gets on with it, his team mates should be embarrassed by their behaviour.

    As for Ronaldo`s comments about Mascherano... he was able to dive with Liverpool,he has got a lot worse with Barca,but for Ronaldo of all people to say that to say is comical.

  • Comment number 13.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 14.

    I watched both encounters between Barca and Real in La Liga this season as well as the Copa Del Rey final, there was as much bad blood, playacting and frayed tempers in those games as there were in the two CL ties. The Spanish officials who refereed said matches didn't do any better then their foriegn contaparts. If teams are hell bent on, for lack of a better word, cheating, then I don't think it particulary matters where the man in black hails from.

  • Comment number 15.

    Jose Mourinho is simply bad for the game. He has a big ego and is a bad example for his players. Notice that the complainers are mostly his players - just like their leader. I hope that FIFA imposes a long ban and hefty fine on him. He is tactless and does not have a plan - just defend. One can plainly see that Barca dominated and were more purposeful. Real were a bunch of super stars with a nut at the head.

  • Comment number 16.


    It's no different when Liverpool and Man Utd players get together or Arsenal and Chelsea (not that they have many English players between them). It's a good thing Pepe and Sergio Ramos weren't playing as they are two of the worst sinners. the ref could easily have sent off 3 Real players last night. Apart from Casillas I don't think Spain would suffer for nat having any Real players in the team.


    Mate you have completely missed the Castillian Catalan hostility. This aint anything in England. Only this thing has prevented Spain from taking the world cup before 2010. Catalans are rebellious in nature, they think they are being exploited and not given their due opportunity by the central Madrid govt. Catalans never would have accepted Castillian dominance in the national team. The only reason Spain won because Iker managed to bind the whole team together, accepting Catalan superiority in the team. But I doubt even 'The Saint' can stand the creature named Busquets. This will lead to inevitable clash of egos with the likes of Puyol, Xavi. And we all know Barcelona players will put Catalan interest ahead of the national team.

    In case you forgot, Sergio Ramos was the best performing RWB in the world cup and it wasnt an accident. He is clumsy at times, but supernatural at his best. Name a replacement for him in La Roja. ( Arbeloa is in Real as well)

  • Comment number 17.

    waldovski #11

    I agree with you 100% that the person who is responsible for all of this is Mourinho. Why the British press cannot call it as it is, is beyond me.

    If a manager asks his players to kick my players off the field, I will ask my players to feign injury at every single contact - harmful or not.

    I wonder if Phil Minshull and the other BBC bloggers saw the Cup final and the behaviour of the Real Madrid players, just shameful, absolutely shameful...

    It is a disgrace that a team like Madrid felt they had to hire such a manager with his confrontational style. Lets see how much success he brings them...

  • Comment number 18.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 19.

    If anyonecan sort out this lot its Vicente Del Bosque, he is a top class manager and I'm sure that till this day Real Madrid must rue the day when they treated him so shabiliy and let him go after bringing so much success to them.

  • Comment number 20.

    "He will never admit that Motta's red card last season was absolutely deserved"

    Have you completely lost your mind? You think that's a red card? Well I've got news for you buddy, 95% of the footballing world think that Busquets is a disgrace to football after this incident, just look at the following video on the link.....

  • Comment number 21.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 22.

    And for your information, I completely disagree with your opinions of Mourinho. There's a stark contrast between 'stirring everything up' and speaking your mind. All Mourinho does is tell everybody what he's thinking, rather than cowering behind neutral comments which make for boring interviews. If there weren't people like Mourinho speaking the truth, football would be a monotonous, boring sport, as Barcelona are making it out to be.

  • Comment number 23.

    There is still over 12 months go to the Euros start. A week is a long time in Football and I really don't believe that the events of this seasons series of matches will have any bearing on that tournament and the feeling in general in the Spanish squad at that time. They will deservedly start the tournament as favourites, but personally I don't see them winning it. My money would be on the Germans as they have the most youthful and hungry squad. Besides, no European side has ever won three tournaments on the spin (West Germany 1972/74 were a penalty shoot-out away in 76, France 1998/2000 were awful in the World cup 2002), although I think they will go close.

  • Comment number 24.

    Personally I hope it does affect their Euro finals display as many of the Spanish national team need to learn how to behave appropriately.
    I've watched lots of spanish football having lived in Spain for 10 years and whilst I believe they have some great footballers, they also have many extremely bad losers.
    Certain things strike me regarding the national team of late. Their recent successes have been highly deserved even if they didn't exactly set the World Cup on fire winning nearly all their matches 1:0 and passing teams to a slow and boring death.
    It seems the national team as well as their fans weren't quite used to this success and as a result, have become slightly arrogant with the players using all sorts of gamesmanship to get one over their opponents especially in La Liga. It would appear that even the managers seem to be involved too especially when you consider the seemingly deliberate bookings received by the likes of Casillas, Ramos and Iniesta just so they would miss a less important match in order to be legimate to play in the following match. The playacting and diving that goes on in La Liga has been around a while from what I've seen but it seems everyone and not just the Spanish, is at it. Obviously the pressure and benefits of winning or losing is immense these days and players and managers alike are under pressure to perform well consistently. The price of this is that you get many matches that seem to played by brilliant players who no longer respect the beautiful game for what it is and would rather cheat or try to kid the referee to get a decision in their favour.
    Having spoken to many Spanish people who I respect very much, it seems most do not really understand what fair play is or why it is needed which is a crying shame - if they did then football could be so much more enjoyable!!

  • Comment number 25.

    Personally, I think post 11 has got it spot on. I'm a neutral, non-Spaniard, but a fluent speaker of the language who has spent a fair amount of time in the country. I eagerly looked forward to these 4 games. At the end of it all, I was left pretty cold, particularly, regarding the 3rd game - the 1st leg of the Champions League. I won't go into detail, but I agree with 11. You need look little further than Jose Mourinho for all this.

    Remember, the self-acclaimed 'Special One' - nobody else called him it; sadly fawned over by the British press - I never understood why - which gave him ideas above his station; in both Italy & Spain, felt/feels as though the world is against him. He took it several steps too far this time. It's great to see an ex-President of Real Madrid, in Calderon, coming out to say what he did. It would be nice now for those inside the club to act. Real have won the Copa del Rey, but Barca are certs for the league. Do the honourable thing for football & the club - show him the door. People have lost their jobs for far less. I've never seen such a show of arrogance in football. He'll find another one somewhere but, hopefully, it'll put English clubs off wanting to see what he propogates as football & diplomacy for tarnishing our league, or any league for that matter.

    His tactics were pure thuggery & showed his limits as a coach. There was only one team that really tried to play football - Barca. Even in 2 games at home - negative. He ran scared & he had no answers other than to intimidate Barcelona. For the short time after Barca went 1-0 up yesterday, they actually decided to have a go, & gave the Azulgrana a few scares. Why not before?

    Some of Barca's tactics, particularly from Busquets (who has a reputation for it) & Pedro (who doesn't) were shameful, too. I hate to see imaginary cards shown by the likes of Puyol, who can certainly handle himself, so why, Carlos? You can't just stand back & let Barca play you to death, but you also can't expect to use such tactics & then be surprised when spits in your face.

    At the end of it, we have (a) few memories of these games - Di Maria's sublime cross & Ronaldo's great header in Valencia; Messi's magic in Madrid; & Iniesta's pass for Pedrito's goal in the Nou Camp. Thankfully, it looks like a Barca v Man Utd final - one we'll be able to watch & almost know in advance that will be played how neutrals & fans of both sides want to see football played. I'll be back in England for that weekend & am glad that Mourinho is not set to darken our shores, at least for those few days.

  • Comment number 26.

    Let's hope for a strong ref in the final.

    And if there's any diving a swift yellow card. There was one point when Mascherano went down and rolled about for 2 mins only to get straigh tback up. Even though he was fouled he should get booked for feigning injury.

    Real also had a perfectly good goal ruled out, I feel for them.

  • Comment number 27.

    In my opinion what great footballers, but a distinct lack of sportsmen within both squads.

  • Comment number 28.

    People respect Fergie for kicking players out who think they are 'bigger for the club'. Its appears to me that Mourinho thinks he's bigger than every club he's managed.

    Worst thing is, the British media love him, with sports journalists drooling over ever word that comes out of his mouth - and thats the reason why he says he will come back to the UK.

  • Comment number 29.

    Whatever the make up of the Spanish side in 2012 they are paid professionls and will soon forget what has happened in the recent el clasicos.

    Bless him Del Bosque must pinch himself every day as he has got the best job in football. Personally I am more interested in Jose Marino. Has he resigned or been sacked?

  • Comment number 30.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 31.

    I'm sorry but how anyone can defend some of the play acting by Barcelona is beyond me, they may play the best football on the planet but they are the most guilty of unsportmanslike behaviour, and i just couldnt believe that the ref bought nearly every single one of their dives.

  • Comment number 32.

    Take Jose Mourinho out of equation and things will ease of. This guy with all his tactical brilliance is damaging to soccer. Wherever he goes, he takes controversy. Constantly sulking, complaining about officials, UEFA and other teams. It's obvious he is too afraid to loose his job and distracts the issue to outside factors.

  • Comment number 33.

    It's a pity that the sheer animosity between these two great clubs is souring the football so much. And as much as I am a fan of Mourinho for his entertainment value for neutral fans, he's pretty much the common denominator when the 'ugly' side of Barcelona comes to the fore - i.e. when teams simply try to stop them playing football in recent years of the Champions League. He's an ex Barcelona man and shows them very little respect, and they are pretty dismissive of him.

    I'm not a huge Barca fan, but it saddens me to see how they've acted at times, slipping down to Mourinho's 'win at any cost' standard. There's obviously a lot more to the rivalry between Barca & Real than most outsiders appreciate, but it does seem to have taken a more nasty turn. Hopefully that won't have an effect on the national side.

  • Comment number 34.

    It's easy enough to point the finger at Mourinho and although I'm not his biggest fan and I do agree that he sets his team out to play a negative game, I can't agree that he was totally to blame for that farce of a first leg.
    I think Fifa and Uefa needs to change the rules and allow retro active punishment for those caught on camera cheating or play acting. Maybe the second leg or the final would be void of a few star names, but it would definetly go a long way to removing an element that is ruining the game.

  • Comment number 35.

    stop this madness Mr.waldovski Jose tell the true , i watch last year champion league semi-final last year between Barcelona and Inter millan last year Busquets fall down and even the T.V show him glaze to see if referee give Motto a red card, Busquets is a disgrace to football .

  • Comment number 36.


    I'm not disagreeing with you, I think that Busquets is scum and isn't fit to wear the Barca shirt, a team famous for flair and style. However Motta DOES strike him in th eface with his hand which IS a red card offence. Still doesn't excuse the ridiculousness by Busquets that followed.

    However I do sympathise with players somewhat. They feel that unless they make a big deal out of small fouls they will never get any fouls given in their favour. Video refereeing could solve this problem, and make it easier to get rid of diving/play-acting (i.e. cheating).

  • Comment number 37.

    How many times have top english players fallen over too easily ?

    How many times do you see the english teams crowd around referees ?

    Lets get something straight here, we are talking as though the Spanish giants have a monopoly on such distasteful acts, its not just them, its endemic in football.

    Tell me who would be a referee ?

    Ref makes a decsion - Real Madrid accuse Barca, Barca accuse Real Madrid, you can just as easily swap the spanish names and replace them with english club names.

    Wait till Sunday here? Irrespective of the referee, every decision he makes will be wrong, he will upset one team or the other, even with straightforward decisions ? How many times do players claim a throw in when they know they touched it last.

    To some its called being ultra professional, to many it smacks of ................

    Authorities could stamp it out tomorrow but that would sanatise the game.

    Dont hold your breathe.

    The Spanish giants actions over these two matches are merely the latest headline, who remembers Henry's handball ? Everyone agreed that was unsavoury but was anything done ? No

    Administrators could sort the game out in one go, warn clubs that refs will be empowered and BACKED to send off 10 players in every game across every European league at the start of next season if thats what it takes to reduce shirt pulling, simulation, group hounding of refs, imaginary yellow cards etc. ALL PLAYERS SENT OFF TO BE BANNED FOR 5-10 GAMES.

  • Comment number 38.

    @34, retro active = retrospective, dang so called smart phone.

  • Comment number 39.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 40.

    It was great to see Ramon Calderon finally telling Mourinho and the Real team members where to get off. They lost convincingly over two legs to a better team. The statistics clearly show who played fair and who didn't. Mourinho and his team need to stop the whining and excuses and get on with improving their football.

  • Comment number 41.

    How can a team be so good and so boring at the same time. there is something wrong with the tiki-taka style of play, a few people have hinted at that here and i would like to confirm. yes they do pass the ball around brilliantly and it does make one wonder how come other professional footballers cannot get the ball off them? also they look so good together, everyone knows how to hold onto the ball when they are in Barca colours (or playing alongside them) but seem to lose this superhuman ability when the go away (edmilson, toure, xabi alonso, Mascherano), it is just baffling. i do like watching arsenal play though, sometimes its good to let the other person touch the ball once in a while.
    and directly related to this is the fact that nobody likes being laughed at (Man utd, champions league finals, so good in qualifying, couldn't touch the ball against barcelona), so as a direct consequence, anyone who wants to avoid being laughed at should do all within their powers to stop them getting onto the ball. the only problem is that you would be damned if you attack and lose without getting near the ball, and damned if you defend and win as everyone accuses you of negative football (man utd, inter). Like Mourinho said, what is it about barca that turns everyone into something else????

  • Comment number 42.

    I am a strong Barca supporter and was up for a 5-0 thrashing of RM yesterday. After the game, I was actually happy with the 1-1, I was glad that Madrid scored, and that they played well. I was happy that they left the Camp Nou with some pride and dignity, and that we can all move on now from what has been. These games have left a a bitter after taste, because my club let itself be drugged into a mud-fight. Pep allowed Mourinho to engineer a tribal war in Spain. For a moment (and a match) Pep got as ugly and as low as Mourinho. I hope that he is man enough to apologise some day in the future.

    Like I said, Madrid is a great club with a great heritage and fan base that can only be matched by a few others. This is the club of Puskas, Di Stefano, Sanchez and Zidane. It has taken them decades and billions of £'s to get to where they are. 9 European cups for starters. I just could not believe that this club could be desparate enough to hire Mourinho! Unbelievable! Now you have a set of players who honestly believe in conspiracy theories. Players! If you don't believe it read what Ronaldo, Casillas and Alonso said after the match yesterday. I'll repeat it - Real Madrid players believe that the dice are loaded against them! They have a mangaer who even thinks that UNICEF has a hand in it. This is what, in a matter of months, Real Madrid has become. A very sorry time in their history. I hope that they get a new manager and start the long and hard job of rebuilding their reputation. And I hope Mourinho get a job in England and moves on. For some reason, England suits him better than Italy and Spain.

  • Comment number 43.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 44.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 45.

    To all you Mourinho bashers... you obviously don't realise his record. I'll just run it by you :

    Porto : 2 Portuguese leagues, 1 Portuguese cup, 1 Uefa Cup, 1 Champions League

    Chelsea : 2 Premier Leagues, 2 League Cups, 1 Fa Cup

    Inter Milan : 2 Serie As, 1 Italian Cup, 1 Champions Leagues

    Real Madrid : 1 Spanish Cup

    Overall : Six League titles, 6 domestic cups, 2 Champions league!!

    All this talking he does, it is deliberate... It takes the focus off his players and puts it on himself so the players can relax. And it works, every single time. The guy is a genius, the players of the clubs he has managed adore him and so do ( most ) of the fans. When he win the cup final this year... I bet you same people were siging his praises!!

  • Comment number 46.

    @ 11, 17 & 25,

    your comments are absolutely correct. I wish to add to them.

    I used to take The Actress' comments with a pinch of salt, but I was disgusted at her lies claiming that Rijkaard had a conversation with Frisk at half which led to the death threats which led to Frisk retiring.

    That is quite serious because her accusations stoked the fire in some over-zealous Chelsea fan(s) and it led to death threats being issued. This is sports, not warfare. There are more important things going on in the world.

    I wonder why the fawning Ingerlish hacks (including Mini'shull and McNutly) don't ever talk about this and other disgusting behaviours of The Actress. Me, I'm tired of her posturing and pouting. She has bought nothing but ill-feeling wherever she's gone. Perhaps it's a carefully pre-meditated plan to dismantle the Spanish national team. She is Portugese after all.

  • Comment number 47.


    Because of course Hockey is a clean and wonderful sport!?! The players always seem to be fighting, and it is not looked upon as bad!!!

  • Comment number 48.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 49.

    Not sure which part of my previous post has prompted the further consideration, but to paraphrase, I don't sympathise with the referees at all. They have a rulebook. Apply it. How many cards did we see for simulation or surrounding the ref? That is, on top of the cardable fouls.

  • Comment number 50.

    i agree with the general sentiment of most posters here.

    The cynical tactics employed by Mourinho with regards to referees is nothing but a ploy to influence the refereeing of future matches. Like sir alex ferguson (who also employs the same tactic) mourinho gives no regard to the negative impact of these tactics on the referees themselves or the game as a whole.

    It is frankly laughable that the manager of real madrid thinks he is being hard done by 'oh jose, it must be so difficult managing real madrid, i mean you've only got ronaldo, kaka etc, the biggest transfer budget in football (bar man city), the backing of the spainish government and the backing of spainish tax payer' - pah!

    for the record jose, if you only have the ball for 30 of the game then chances are ur tam will give away more fouls. furthermore, if u send ur teams out as fired up as they were in the champ league 1st leg, then it is envitable that someone will get sent off sooner rather than later.

  • Comment number 51.

    nb should read 30%

  • Comment number 52.

    In bastketball and handball they have rules against holding the ball without the intention to play (yes thats why Barsa rack up massive posession stats). The reason for these rules is to encourage positive play and not negative posession play. Football is designed to be end to end stuff not endless passes in safe bits of the pitch. Lets get back to basics.

  • Comment number 53.


    it's inevitable not envitable

  • Comment number 54.

    53 - sorry about typo. working while posting never good idea!

  • Comment number 55.


    Lol... most probably not ;)

  • Comment number 56.

    @ #50.

    Funny thing is, in the first CL match, it was Barca who made the most fouls not Real.

  • Comment number 57.



  • Comment number 58.

    Phil, I think the problem with your refereeing proposal is that UEFA and FIFA are continually trying to get the message across that the laws of the game are standard across all borders and levels of play.

    If they start giving ties between two teams from the same country to 'home' referees who understand the game, then it opens up the old arguments that "well, that's a yellow card in Europe" and so on.

    Plus, if an English referee was given a game between Manchester United and Chelsea for example, I'm sure the usual conspiracy theorists would go into overdrive about six-year old goals and penalties that he did or didn't give at Old Trafford or Stamford Bridge! :D

  • Comment number 59.


    Why doesn't every team do this then when they are defending a lead instead of sitting back, parking the bus and inviting pressue? It's because they're not good enough at keeping the ball. Barcelona, seemingly regardless of who they have at the core of their team, have an uncanny ability to play keep away, enough so to even embarass top sides like Real, Chelsea and Man United. Maybe it's another form of negative play, but it takes a great deal of skill and team work and of course the other teams are welcome to try to take the ball off them.

  • Comment number 60.

    I am glad that someone of Mourinho's stature has highlighted referee's decisions or apparent blindness regarding incidents in games.
    It is remarkable that Mascherano seems to have learned to dive and roll over in apparent pain since joining Barcelona. He never did that in Liverpool.
    Barcelona are a great team to watch when they are allowed to play football. But they use other unsporting tactics to swing things their way.
    Barcelona seems to have mastered the art of swarming the ref after minor incidents to persuade him against their opponents. This weakens any referee in his ability to be impartial in later decisions during a game. The ref then gives unjust decisions against their opponents. The opponents then get scared to challenge for the ball. Now Barcelona can play their game and they look fantastic.
    Another tactic: In Arsenal's game against Barca in Nou Camp this year, it was noticeable that on a few occasions Barca players put their hands on Arsenal players throats in choking positions. They got away with this, probably because it is not an official offence, but this action has a detrimental effect on any player. This strongly invasive threatening action can "wind up" a player and make him angry, resulting in him being put off his normal game. This was done to Nasri and Wilshere. I believe that Barca consciously work on these unsporting tactics to stop their opponents from playing their game.
    Barcelona have got away with these tactics. This is unjust. Referees should be made aware of this.
    In defence of referees, they have a lot to contend with in any professional football game.
    Mourhino is not a saint but thanks to him for bringing this up. This elephant (unsporting tactics) in the room has to be dealt with.

  • Comment number 61.

    #56 - really??? wow well that is surprising! i watched that one (not second leg) and that was not the impression it left me with. I guess what stayed in the memory was the pepe red card (which i do feel was a bit harsh, but having said that real can't have too many complaints cos those fouls are reds in prem, let alone europe) and adebayor's fore arm smash on a barca player - which has left me with a false impression. Barca are no mugs though, players like puyol know when to foul just like all other pros.

    on a side note (might as well get this off my chest) adebayor is total idiot. This whole sorry episode has had a distinct lack of sportmanship and his comments after the first leg took the biscuit.

  • Comment number 62.

    Several years ago I said that we in this country had to be very careful as at the time the cheating was starting to enter our game. Every professional cheats that's his so called craft, they are taught to do it and alas what I said has turned true. Blame the referee if your Player commits a foul and is sent off, After all the manager bought him so he can't be bad. Egos are bigger than reality. Hit them hard no matter who they play for, take points of them and give a very long suspension for bringing the game into disrepute, both player and coaches or what ever you want to call them, football will be here long after there gone and who in few years will remember them anyway and should we care, more important things happen than a Game of football or what ever sport you support.

  • Comment number 63.

    Let me address the topic first before I make my side comments. I don't think this would affect Spain. The centre(s) of most controversy involved were Alves, Busquests and Masherano. Two of them are not Spaniards and Busquests "opponent" in their incident is Brazilian. They are professional enough to put this aside.

    My take on the diving issue was that Barca over did it. But they didn't it because of Real's plan. Barca wanted Real to come out and play Real decided to haunt them and give them very little time and space and then give them a number of kicks shoves etc which would not draw cards so Barca resorted to play acting and it worked. I had to watch Alves incident in slow motion before seeing that he was not touched but I cant blame Stark because it would have been difficult to see it.
    I don't agree with Barca's behaviour but we must also understand that Barca players are small and not as physical as some of the real players. If you apply thesame amount on Hesky, John Harston, Essien and Iniesta- guess who will fall?
    Iniesta. You can be sure Barca wont dive in the final.

  • Comment number 64.

    Phil, I totally agree with you on the issue of Del Bosque finding a way in resolving this simmering tension that has bedeviled his Spanish players who were involved in the four clasicos.

  • Comment number 65.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 66.

    It will have no effect at all on the Spanish team, ill tempered affairs between rangers and celtic have never affected the Scottish national team, Arsenal Chelsea Man Utd Liverpool never have any effect on the English national team when they play. Bit of a pointless article to be honest considering the numerous other happenings around Europe such as Dortmund winning the title.

  • Comment number 67.

    People saying that Masch never dived at Liverpool clearly didn't watch Liverpool games, I'm a huge Liverpool fan and would cringe when he rolled around its not needed, just like I cringe when Maxi does it, the difference is, we don't highlight it, why would the press do so (threatning bringing the english game into the limelight)? We paint ourselves as the angels when in fact we are just as bad as them, it needs stamping out of the game before we wont regonize the beautiful game.

  • Comment number 68.

    Barcelona are the best team in the world & won the tie over 2 legs - so stop moaning...

  • Comment number 69.

    If the Real v Barca league match and Copa del Rey were anything to go by, Barca would have had no protection from Spanish referees, who presuambly are more intimidated by Real than Barca. A bit like Man Utd over here, only much more so. There was a disgraceful amount of off the ball fouling by Real in those 2 games, none of which was punished. Real were fortunate to end the game with 11 again last night. They seem to believe they have a God given right to do whatever it takes to beat Barca or anyone else with impunity.

    The diving over the 2 legs was pretty even between the 2 sides - Ronaldo and di Maria for Real and Pedro for Barca. Di Maria started the ball rolling with 2 dives against Dani Alves, one of which led to a booking.

    Real, well Mourinho actually, got what was deserved from their negative first leg. For a club that probably has about half a billion euro worth of squad, it was a grim way to attempt to win a match and I'm glad they're out.

  • Comment number 70.

    Why is everyone so surprised at Barcelona playacting? It is not as if it only began in this series of matches.

    Arsene Wenger is a huge admirer of the Barcelona stye of play, and models his team's style on them.

    Both teams play "tippy-tappy" pass-your-opponents-to-death style football .... only Barcelona do it better, and have players such as Messi & Villa who can actually suddenly get past opponents and put the ball in the net.

    Both teams roll around as if hit by a runaway train if an opponent DARES t actually tackle them and take the ball away.

    Both teams love waving imaginary cards.

    Both teams surround the refree at the slightest indication that he may not buy into their oscar winning performances.

    Barcelona just do all these things that much better than Arsenal.

    Barcelona have a geat team, and an undoubted world superstar in Messi, and as such their performnces and behaviour is totally unnecessary, besides being a disgrace.

    However, referees continue to be taken in by it. Why? Is it because of the way the press are constantly fawning over Barcelona, or is there perhaps something a little more sinister and unsavoury, as Mourinho - disgrace that he is - has suggested.

    I have never been a fan of Mourinho, but he does speak his mind. The fact that his mind is often a little confused, and out of touch with reality is what makes (some) of the press enjoy interviewing him so much. Sometimes even he gets it right, though.

    The matches have been a huge disappointment, and the first CL semi should rather have been christened "el Crappo".

    Despite the differences between the Basques and the Catilans, by the time the important matches arrive I believe they will have settled their differences, and get on with things like the professional footballers and actors they are.

  • Comment number 71.

    Here we go again, slagging off Barcelona because they made a decision not to put up with Mourinho sending his dogs of war out to kick Barca off the pitch. I live in France and watch Barcelona week in and out, and the only teams they dive against, (yes, they do dive) is against Madrid under Mourinho, and any other teams that come to kick them. Basically they are saying to Madrid, and any other team, if you come out to kick us, we are going to ensure you get booked for it, and who can blame them. Has anyone stopped to wonder why El classico has only got a bad name since Mourinho arrived? Messi is not a diver, he tries to stay on his feet more often than going down. He must be the most kicked player in Europe, if you look at the statistics from last nights match, which wasnt as bad as the first leg, Barca had three fouls called against them and Madrid 27!!!! As for the final, all you have to say is Manu are best and most dangerous when they have the ball, but getting the ball off Barcelona in the first place is going to be the problem as was proved in the previous final!

  • Comment number 72.

    Casillas can be replaced with Reina, Valdes, De Guer,
    Alonso is a poor mans Xavi,
    Ramos could never defend

    No loss if Madrid players can't except that they are bad losers, last thing Spain need is to fuel the Catalan individual team debate. Jose should just come back to Prem where his brand of football is excepted and press love him

  • Comment number 73.

    "I used to take The Actress' comments with a pinch of salt, but I was disgusted at her lies claiming that Rijkaard had a conversation with Frisk at half which led to the death threats which led to Frisk retiring."

    Really? What death threats were these? The death threats that could not be shown to either the English Police or Chelsea FC, so that the perpetrators could be banned from the club for life, arrested and thrown in jail?

    Whist the Rijkaard and Frisk situation was a total fabrication, to which there is no denying - his rant last week was just that, a rant - on how he sees the particular situation. Speaking as a Chelsea fan, I can't say I disagreed much with what he said.

  • Comment number 74.

    A lot has been said about "overly negative" Mourhino's reaction over the 2 legged affair and a lot has basically had to do with his person and as such the main point of his "rants" have been ignored. Over the two legs, either intentionally or otherwise, Real Madrid were very harshly treated. The red cards, Higuain's goal which was diallowed after Ronaldo had been fouled. They were all terrible decisions. When you look at them vis a vis the match against Arsenal where Van Persie was given a red card for a phantom offence and 2009, when Chelsea should have qualified but were hard done by extremely questionable officiating then you begin to wonder. They may have gone on to beat arsenal without the ref's handout, they may have gone on to beat real without the red cards or the disallowed goal, but the point here, we were never allowed to see that because of the officiating.

    I do not like Jose Mourhino but even his worst critics will agree that he's arguably amongst the best three coaches in Europe regardless of how he achieves his results. You can say the same about Guardiola and while not blaming Guardiola for the results, i am a bit disappointed in his reaction. I am positive that if we were to analyse the champions leagues over the past four seasons, Barca would be ahead of the dubious decisions stats and makes you question their "best team in the world tag". The Barca of Romario and stoichkov did not need the dubious decisions and when they won, they did so without persistent dubious decisions which is something that has stained this present team. Would they have beaten Real or Arsenal over two legs without the ref's interferrence? we will never know but i am sure of one thing though, next season, if Mourhino stays on at Madrid, Barca will not be winning anything

  • Comment number 75.

    A poor article I'm afraid Phil. There are 2 principal things I would pull you up on, although I'm pretty sure other have already contributed something similar:

    1. 'Let's be quite clear about this, on this occasion, the breakdown between the players themselves, especially when you take into consideration the foreign element on both sides, has very little, almost nothing, to do with those two very valid political stereotypes of Castilla versus Catalonia.'

    This is extremely poor analysis for someone who has lived in Spain for 14 years. Yes it does have A LOT to do with it. Barça have 5 Catalans in their starting 11, and players like Sergio Ramos, Casillas, Arbeloa and Albiol have left us in no doubt as to their political views. I agree with poster #11 though that Mourinho is an expert at fanning the flames. He certainly has done Del Bosque no favours - about that you are right.

    2. Appointing a Spanish referee would be the last thing that Barça would want, and would be frankly a disaster. Did you not watch the league match at the Bernabeu or the final of the Copa del Rey?

  • Comment number 76.

    Over the course of the four recent meetings beteween Barcelona and Real Madrid neither team has come out of it with a great deal of credit. It seems that both teams really do bring out the worst in each other and as such, what should have been a series of occasions to savour has degenerated into a petty, farcical, childish, spiteful saga with very few positive memories for football fans to treasure. It's a real shame when you consider the wealth of talent both teams can call upon to go out and win football matches in an entertaining fashion without resorting to underhand tactics. As number #67 posted above though, let's not kid ourselves that it's a problem which is exclusive to foreign leagues. It goes on in England week in, week out, but we conveniently ignore the fact. Play-acting, diving, cheating, etc are endemic in the game worldwide so it's a bit unfair to lay all the blame at the door of these two clubs despite all the fully warranted criticism they are currently recieving. As for Mourinho....zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  • Comment number 77.

    Calderon is a muppet who installed pellegrini as real chief last season, a man who was clearly not upto the job. He spent mega money and failed so he should keep quiet. The Real Madrid boss needs to be a big personality to gain the respect of a team of superstars. As for busquets, he is an appalling example of a footballer, a strong wind would knock him over. Getting a former team mate (motta) sent off last season was a disgrace. Quite how he starts for Spain ahead of Fabregas (who also likes to spend time on the deck, though he does receive some 'strong' tackles) is beyond me.

  • Comment number 78.


    Quite a few of your points are transparent :

    1) First and foremost, you are defending acts of diving from Barcelona's players. How can you believe that trying to decieve the referee is understandable and should be encouraged??? They should just get on with it, they would look so much better, but to defend is just terrible and against footballing morals.

    2) El Clasico is worse since Mourinho arrived?? Do you not remember the Figo saga when a Pig's Head was thrown at him and the match abandoned??? That is far worse in my opinion.

    3) "if you look at the statistics from last nights match, which wasnt as bad as the first leg" You haven't looked at the facts have you?? Barcelona made more fouls in the first leg than Madrid!! An infactually correct argument.

    Get your facts right please, this should be an intelligent messageboard for intelligent comments... you are obviously in the wrong place

  • Comment number 79.

    I personally don't think it will affect the national team. Once they get the camiseta roja on they tend to forget their rivalry and Del Bosque is such a father figure to the national team that they will probably behave themselves and be best of friends again.

    The Barcelona v Real Madrid game is strange fixture in Spain which has become an overblown event which I think British football fans struggle to understand. All Spanish have their team but when it comes to this fixture they are either for Real Madrid or Barcelona as almost a second team. Real Madrid has never been about Madrid or Castilla and Barcelona isn't really Catalan either including the Spanish players, Iniesta is from Castilla La Mancha, Pedro from the Canary Islands etc. Most of it is media hype.

    I personally think Spanish football would be better without these two teams where the best players from both teams were spread out between Atletico Madrid, Valencia and Sevilla creating a more entertaining league which wouldn't be dominated so much by two teams.

  • Comment number 80.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 81.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 82.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 83.

    Messi is best player in the world by a country mile and when he gets fouled he gets up and gets on with it, his team mates should be embarrassed by their behaviour.


    ermmm except when he elbowed ramos in the back of the knee in the first leg, held his face and rolled around on the ground when he fell onto alonsos backside (the softest part on the body?) and waves imaginary cards (to marcelo in one of the games is just one example of many). add to that smacking the ball as hard as he could into real madrid fans after it was already out of play, and you seem to find that hes quite a horrible person, on the pitch.

  • Comment number 84.


    Let's not forget when Barcelona beat Madrid 5-0 and Carvalho put his hands in the air, Messi was just behind him and threw himself to the ground immediately and rolled around just as much as anyone else. Emperor's new clothes...

  • Comment number 85.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 86.

    I find Barca quite annoying actually.
    Every decision goes their way. But just everytime.
    This, a Chelsea fan saying. "come on Utd"

  • Comment number 87.


    The BBC are obviously just trying dictate the opinions shown, not much " free speech " is there??

  • Comment number 88.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 89.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 90.


    This is a joke mate, absolutely nothing wrong with the comment!!!!

  • Comment number 91.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 92.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 93.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 94.

    I cant believe people are still backing Mourinho. This time he has gone too far in my opinion and I have always been a big fan as a Chelsea supporter... Barca deserved to go through as Real didnt even try to dominate in the first match. Maybe the ref made a few mistakes but you cant blame them/him for Madrid not going through. The diving is a disgrace and should be penalised more, but in my opinion both sides are guilty of it. Messi acted a few times thats a shame but he is the best and makes me get up out of my chair every time he gets the ball!

  • Comment number 95.

    Well well well. Real need not worry because Man United will destroy Barca on the 28th, mark it

  • Comment number 96.

    I'm also wondering yet again why UEFA seems to have done so little about the racist claims off the pitch and on it, yet was so quick to criticise Spurs fans booing Adebayor and Rangers fans for supposedly singing sectarian songs. Seems once again its different rules for British sides and the rest of Europe.

    Some Rangers fans were not 'supposedly' singing sectarian songs, the club openly admit some of their fans do sing 'sectarian' songs. Both their current manager and assistant manager have in recent weeks happily said in the Scottish Press that these 'traditions' must stop. You can't actually complain about being charged with Sectarian singing, if that is what some of your fans are doing can you?

    My use of the word 'traditions' above should give you a clue as to how historical a problem this is for Rangers and this was the club's 4th(?) UEFA charge.

    Many of their own fans are uncomfortable with anti-Catholic songs and given that no one else has intervened despite the material being deemed 'illegal' by the police and courts, I'm glad that UEFA got involved because it actually might help put a stop to this particular strain of offensive garbage that people in Scotland have had to tolerate for years.

  • Comment number 97.

    Greatest Trick the Devil ever did was to convince the world he never existed. Greatest trick Mourinho ever did was to convince people there is a conspiracy involving Barcelona.

    And half of the clowns on this board have bought it

    Well done guys try to think for yourself for once

  • Comment number 98.

    97 -"Well done guys try to think for yourself for once"

    Coming from someone who believes in a devil?

  • Comment number 99.

    OK so i dont know what im doing to break any rule, i am genuinly trying to post a good post. Here i have had to water down a post that was already very watered down, i dont get it?

    I am appalled (can use that word?) at some of the behaviour of the Barcelona players. But the rests with FIFA. They can easily do something about it but they dont. Just use retrospective evidence and ban Pedro, Mascherano and Busquets and even Dani Alves for all that ? acting. Its at its most extreme. FIFA and should never appear in the same page, let alone the same sentence.

    I am also mystified by the referees. Do they not watch any of the games these days? Do they just lock themselves away? Do they not know that some of these teams are notorious for acting? Some of them must do, so why dont they take this into account and book them for it? But neither ref in either of the legs did. So i dont know why your sympathies lie with the refs, as they were.........their job.

  • Comment number 100.

    I don't understand why Ronaldo gets tarred with the brush as well.

    People saying Ronaldo play acts and dives, please he was by far one of the better behaviored players in both legs.

    He wasn't flashing cards or trying to get players sent off.

    Infact he does those things far far less than his haters give him credit for.


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