View From The Nou Camp: Abidal’s Return,”Envy Kills” & Respecting United
Q. There’s been some criticism of the side for play acting, do you think the critics have a point?
Maria: I do not. First of all, I don’t know if Man United fans know this but Barça have been suffering from bullying by Spanish media-for over two years now- for the simple reason of being better than Madrid. The claims of diving are part of that. Madrid press has claimed that our players dive, hiding the fact that Madrid had a consistently violent behavior through all the last 4 clasicos. There were lots, lots of non-football aggressions that should have resulted in a red card for Madrid players but for some reason, the blame is on our side. Dani Alves was severely kicked (the ones who actually saw the game live know about it) but Madrid used their press to spread a manipulated video! They have done it in the past.. they have even erased rivals at a defense line to make our players appear offside!
I am afraid the international press was contaminated by Madrid’s allegations, when, if you watch the games again, you can see their constant and allowed violent behavior.
But if you go further, outside Madrid press’s area of influence, you would find a different opinion. Here in South America, the general opinion was that Madrid had no other argument than violence, and that football won.
Hady: There is a quote in Arabic that says: “Envy Kills” and I think it directly applies to all these critics. I know there have been times that a few players dived and those were really few and they were disgraceful moments to every Barca fan. Yet, you can’t attribute all Barca’s success to these incidents. One can never deny that Barca are great, the play beautiful football, they attack, press, and score so, I think it is evident that our success never came because of these acting incidents.
Plus, there is no football team whose players never dived all the way from Cristiano Ronaldo (very well known for his diving abilities), to Nani and Drogba who never think twice about jumping over the keeper to the ground in order to catch a penalty kick. I’m not attacking them but rather defending my point that Barca aren’t the only team who’ve had diving incidents.
Q. Another La Liga title, is it all getting a little bit easy?
Maria: I always hear and read opinions of people thinking La Liga is a new Scottish Premier League, based on the dominance of two teams. I cannot argue against that, since financial resources are poorly distributed among Spanish teams, but it has certainly not become easier for us. In fact, it’s tougher every year! This year we have seen lots of defensive strategies against us so it has been difficult to break some defenses.
Which is a shame really, since lots of Spanish sides can do much better than only defend. Also, the role of media in Spain has grown immensely, they are used as instruments to put pressure on referees, so as we see our rivals being awarded penalties every game (the last example was against us), we have to use other strategies. We don’t get help from anyone.
Hady: It was never easy; La Liga is a very tough competition unlike all the stereotypes published about it. You’ve got a certain Real Madrid who keep racing you. The other teams too may give you a hard time during games with their counter attacks and their defending and their physical abilities.
And we should never forget that this is a competition that was over 38 games so there were always chances of losing form and dropping out of the title race but, luckily, we’ve got an awesome team and an awesome coach all having the same background of football taught to them in our academy – La Masia – and they’ve managed to go through this competition and win it for the fans.
Q. What’s your take on the whole Busquets Marcelo incident?
Maria: As a Spanish native speaker I have to say that, after seeing the video lots of times, I think Busquets did not say what Madrid claims he said. He’s not saying that word! I genuinely think he is not racist nor made a racist comment on Marcelo. Having said that, I would really like to know what Arbeloa said to Seydou Keita to instigate the usually-calm Malian during half-time. But you won’t see that rising from Barça.
Hady: I never understood the whole thing behind this issue. Busquests clearly said:” Mucho Morro” meaning “Lots of Nerve”, it was very evident in the video. He never said “Mono Mono”. Even someone with modest Spanish speaking abilities would’ve seen it. So I think it was just a certain way of trying to paralyze Barca by denying them of using one of their most important players.
I’m glad this issue is over and that justice took its way, it’s a relief to see a great player like Busi able to play the CL Final against a team as great as United.
Q. Looking towards the game, are you confident of victory?
Maria: I am never confident over a victory, especially against a powerful rival. Being confident would contradict my culé nature! I do believe Barça will go out there, do their thing, as they have done the entire season, against a very tough team.. we will see!
Hady: I’m surely looking forward to the game especially against a great team like United. Adding flavour to this is the rivalry that happened two years ago. To be honest, I have confidence in our team and coach yet not in victory. United are a side with great quality and abilities that shouldn’t be taken lightly. They deserve all our respect. So all in all, I cannot say I am completely confident of victory because United can always pull a surprise especially if they’re on their day and Barca aren’t.