By Jennifer Juneau
The saga of Barcelona versus rivals Real Madrid continued the evening of May 3 at Camp Nou and ended with the result most expected: Barcelona are closer to the cup than before the start of the game.
For the second leg of the Champions League semi-final the setting could not have been more dramatic under a beaded curtain of rain.
For a critical part of the match it appeared that Barcelona took advantage of a puddle-ridden pitch to drop and roll as demonstrating how to safeguard oneself in case of a fire (which the match was strikingly absent of) played out mostly by Javier Mascherano (I’ll resist the temptation to list Lionel Messi as his cast mate.)
Other than that the waters remained calm. No red cards, no fists involved. One good reason: the disappearance of Real coach José Mourinho.
The Real Madrid manager’s whereabouts were a mystery to add suspense to what the outcome would be minus his sideline rants.
Without Los Blancos’ theatrical muse to add to the already torrential weather, the team mustered up fluid passing under a state of calm and managed to win the ball back on several occasions.
But something else was notably missing too: a goal from Lionel Messi, which, incidentally, we learned from commentators is pronounced “Lie-nl” like the American singer Lionel Richie, who the Argentine was named after, and not “Leeo-nelle.”
But what’s in a pronunciation? Apparently a lot for them (and myself) to take time to say it considering the ballplayer is talked about more often than the singer ever was, so we must get it right.
The other goal-shy superstar, Cristiano Ronaldo, for the second week in a row wandered lonely as a cloud, but not as desolately as he did in the first leg.
What fans did collect from the match was to enjoy the lyrical playing they deserved the first time around. It’s not to say there was no power struggle between the two sides, there was, but it was contained to the art of playing football (fouls included) and not deliberate mudslinging despite inclement weather.
Subtracting Gonzalo Higuaín being robbed of a goal and a chance for Real to catch up, especially after a supreme goal by Marcelo, Barcelona held it together. They went into the match the better team and came out of the match the winning one and those who rooted for the opponent were almost compelled to admire Barcelona for the performance they upheld–whether it was a completely honest one or not.
But for disappointed Real fans, if anything good came out of a Barça win it would be the chance to see Manchester United (who most likely will beat Schalke at Old Trafford on May 4) conquer them at Wembley in the May 28 final.