As things turned out, they couldn’t give us more memorable football. Barcelona gave us a piece of drama beyond compare, something so thrilling and so extra ordinary that no one who was at the Nou Camp on Wednesday night will ever forget it.
There have been great El Clasico’s before, but there has never been a piece of theatre like this, and in no other sport could have it occurred. You can be staring down the wrong end of three match points in a Wimbledon singles final and spend the next two hours stripping your opponents bare. But in this episode of the Clasico, maximum triumph was guaranteed within eighteen minutes.
As the final whistle approached, most of us were polishing paragraphs pointing out the error of Jose Mourinho’s decisions. Mourinho had gone into his first Clasico encounter by making the biggest strategic mistake of his life.
What, as they stood or sat or lay in postures of frozen despair after every Barca goal, could have been going through Madrid’s players’ heads? How did they feel when the referee urged them to take up their positions for the restart, knowing that they would be kicking off another bout of Guardiola’s men’s wrath?
History, as we know, is the winner’s story. But without such pathos there could have been no heroism, without catastrophe no triumph. And if ever a mere game burst out of its boundaries to approach the proportions of myth, this was it.
As for now, Mourinho is back in the dugout, preparing his next move. Shutting it up wouldn’t be a bad move.