Schalke’s stadium was pretty cool and the fan’s looked like they were on day release and or some type of mood enhancer so the atmosphere was up to scratch. Fergal said he thought the angle of the stands was quite appealing as it made the stadium more like a cauldron. I agreed and said I thought the stadium was the ‘Westfallendon Arena’ (I’d seen this in FIFA the odd time and chanced the name). At halftime the camera basically cut to the stadium exterior and the sign might as well of been ‘Not the Westfallendon Stadium’ because it was some other name and I was wrong.
Raul was up to his old tricks and got a peach of a goal in the second half to really put the shits up Bilbao. The ire of being out of the Spain squad just before they started being a proper team must still be driving him on. Nothing like negative reinforcement eh Raul? Bilbao started playing properly then, as if they had been playing possum all along. Marcelo Bielsa sat in the dugout watching the match. But if that sentence were written by the popular football media it would read something like this: Reclusive football genius Marcelo Bielsa channelled Brando from Apocalypse Now as he sat gloomily on the bench no doubt musing how the petty physical tussles of a football contest fade into the ether when compared to the real philosophical questions that life poses at three a.m. on a sleepless night within earshot of the melancholy rumblings of the Atlantic. Or not.
Bilbao then took the piss a bit and scored enough goals so it was 2-4. They had plundered enough away goals for two teams, the greedy feckers. It took the wind out of the sails of the Schalke fans and that was a bit unfair in my eyes. They had brought flags and everything. It’s probably pretty hard getting a big blue and white flag to wave about, never mind waving the thing for 90 minutes. Even getting it by the turnstiles would be an absolute nightmare. Imagine trying to get it on a flight to America? You could probably massacre an entire plane with a blue and white flag these days. Terrorists are stock piling them as we speak.
Onto the money fest that was Milan Barca. I heard that Milan had made somewhere near 2 million filling their shambles of a stadium for this glamour tie. I don’t care if it has a great reputuation. When I was there for Milan Bari, the atmosphere had forgotten to turn up but the ice cream on the seats had arrived early, eager to annoy my shite. I can imagine Silvio Berlusconi, honeying and lovemaking from on high in his tinted window filth den high above the halfway line, when one of his aides pops in. ‘Mr. Berlusconi, code vanilla! There’s ice cream on the seats!’ to which he replies with a mouth full of foie gras, the blood of some freshly punctured middle eastern princess still to dry across his thighs, ‘I am never to be interrupted when in my Bunga Bunga room! Be gone!’.
The first half was notable for Alexis Sanchez sprinting from the half way line until he reached the box, whereupon he threw his body with all his might. As he hurtled through the air he managed to outstretch a leg which grazed Abiatti. Sanchez had flown with such pace that he didn’t make it back to the stadium until about fifteen minutes later. He was heard to comment that ‘it was a brisk night outside but he enjoyed the walk back’. All the same it was claimed as a ‘stonewall’ penalty by the football world at large which I will take as a sign that resigned cynicism is the new black.
It ended nil all. Ibrahimovich wandered about the pitch. Messi cut inside on his left foot a lot. Ambrosini fouled whoever came near him. Tello was after the glamour of a goal. Messi shouted at him. I liked both jerseys.