Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Jose Mourinho, ex-presiding deity of Stamford Bridge and currently lording over the blue half of San Siro, a man with the propensity to charm people with his soundbites and lock opponents up on the pitch with a defence as impenetrable as a the plot of a David Lynch movie (and inadvertently turn matches into snorefest - the reason cited for his ouster from Chelsea), came up with the answer to the question that has puzzled managers all over the world since the year past: how to stop Barcelona?

The Inter-Barcelona match (result 3-1), played out just a while ago, not only lit a fire under the myth that Barcelona can be stopped from scoring goals only by parking a Volvo truck in front of the goal, but also shattered whatever feeble belief mankind had in its ability to predict future. Who foresaw this result? No one. So if any astrologer has predicted something ominous for you, just show him/her a tape of this match and I am sure they will be left thanking their Gods for ensuring that at least a few of their predictions had come right in the past. For that is what Inter will do. And it was such a match.

Barcelona, a team often cited as the next big thing in art (and not just football), the team with the ability to control and pass the ball with a precision that counter terrorists can only dream of, were left knackered at the end. It might just be a blip, an aberration en route to them retaining the titles they won as much with hard work as with dazzle on the field. And who should cause this blip but their old nemesis, Jose Mourinho.

Jose Mourinho. The last roll of the dice by Massimo Moratti to sort out Inter's serial failure to cause opponents any concern in Champions League. The manager who took over a squad consisting of pensioners and a few mavericks, a team with a midfield as inspiring as a career in bureaucracy and calibrated them in his own style, selling old-timers and those with an alarming love for self harm and buying players to ensure a solid defence and a modicum of inspiration in attack. The man who, like a writer justifying the bad sales of his novel, cited the lack of a muse in his squad as the reason for the failure to cause any ripple in the previous year's Champions League and was promptly given one in the form of his current number 10, Wesley Sneijder, the midfielder whom Real Madrid had no hesitation in offloading (surely Real Madrid is the club most well versed in the art of enriching other clubs by letting go of their players at exactly the wrong time?) The manager, who claims Italy hates him as much as he hates it, who never hesitates to pick up a fight with anyone, from the driver of a rival team's bus to journaists to match officials and who calls himself as "The Special One", a proclamation that seems prescient with every passing day.

Although, Barcelona are not out of it as the 2nd leg of this match is yet to be played, implications of this match extend beyond the outcome of a Champions League semifinal. If Inter are to knock Barca out of this tournament, anyone with a fair idea of European club football can envisage Jose Mourinho taking over as the manager of Real Madrid next season. And what a mouthwatering clash the next season's el clasico will be!


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