Barca’s run to the Champions League final at the expense of their bitterest rivals Real Madrid has left an extremely bad taste in the mouth for boss Jose Mourinho and the rest of the Real staff and players, and their fans around the world.
The Spanish champions set up a trip to Wembley after a 0-2 victory in the first leg at the Bernabeu, followed by a 1-1 draw at the Nou Camp, but it is not the defeat that has angered Mourinho and co but rather the manner of the defeat which they find very hard to accept.
So long as any team is on top, there will be people making up stories and trying to give reasons as to why they are dominating everyone else. This situation is no different, Barcelona is on top and people feel the need to hand out accusations left right and centre.
The bad blood started after Guardiola criticized the referee for disallowing a goal by Pedro Rodriguez in the Copa del Rey final in which Real Madrid eventually emerged victorious.
And when the decision was later proved to be correct, Mourinho went on to label Guardiola as the only coach, who criticizes the referee for giving the correct decision.
This angered Guardiola and set up a bad tempered first leg in the Champions League semi-final clash where a series of off the ball incidents in the first half prompted the rivalry to spill over at half time and descend into complete chaos, as we all saw.
But hell broke loose after a tackle from Pepe sent Dani Alves sprawling to the ground. Replays showed that although it was a high challenge, Alves appeared to make the most of it.
Referee [Wolfgang Stark] showed Pepe the red card, prompting wild protests from the Real players and from Mourinho, who was sent to the stands for his reaction to the incident.
This proved a crippling blow to Real’s chances and the Lionel Messi double that followed gave Barca an advantage that effectively put the tie out of reach for Madrid.
After the game Mourinho suggested that Barcelona were receiving favourable treatment from referees. “It is clear that against Barcelona, you have no chance,” he ranted. He went on to say that Barcelona seem to have some kind of “power over the officials”.
This theory was then seemingly backed up by events in the second leg when Gonzalo Higuain’s goal was ruled out after Cristiano Ronaldo was judged to have fouled Javier Mascherano in the build up.
Ronaldo was clearly incensed by the decisions that went against them over the two legs. “Next year they might as well give the cup directly to Barcelona,” he fumed.
Many Madrid fans do believe their team was unfairly treated by the officials, the reason they keep reinforcing the theory that referees tend to be biased toward Barcelona.
It could be true that Barca, like most successful teams, do seem to get the rub of the green quite often in terms of refereeing decisions.
But it begs the question, why would the UEFA authorities want Barca to win the Champions League?
What would UEFA have to gain out of ensuring that, out of all the clubs in the competition, they are the ones who are assisted in their passage through?
Perhaps UEFA would like the most entertaining teams to progress to stimulate as much interest as possible, hence bringing in the biggest audiences and consequently maximizing the income potential.
But is that really a good enough reason to compromise the fairness of the competition by giving one team a helping hand?
The thing I find most puzzling about this whole situation though is that surely if there’s any team in European football that doesn’t need a helping hand it is Barcelona.
They’ve been arguably the most dominant force in Europe over recent times, winning the Champions League twice over the past five seasons and standing a good chance of adding to that total when they face Manchester United in two weeks’ time.
They play the most devastating possession football that can make even the very best of opposition look decidedly average.
They have the world’s best player, Lionel Messi, whose breathtaking ability has seen him net a record-breaking 52 goals in 52 games so far this season.
Add to that the host of World Cup winning Spanish internationals–Villa, Pedro, Xavi, Iniesta, Pique and Puyol, and you have a pretty formidable side capable of beating any other team, without the need for any assistance.
Perhaps they are just better at making luck than anyone else. Maybe they are just better at creating chances, getting forward and forcing opposing players into committing a foul which can then potentially lead to the officials to make a mistake.
All I know is that that Barca are simply the best team in Europe at the present.
I’m pretty sure that they could win the Champions League without intervention from officials and without any preferential treatment from the authorities.
So let’s hope that in the final, they can win the trophy fair and square, with no controversial refereeing decisions going their way and no reason for anyone to call into question the integrity of their victory.