Barcelona’s goalless draw at Getafe on Sunday won’t be enough to stop them from winning the La Liga title this season, but footage of the match will be used as a cure for insomnia by enterprising scientists.
The Spanish leaders made it three games without scoring for the first time since 2008 as they played out a soporific stalemate in the Madrid sunshine.
Robert Lewandowski played with the energy of somebody that devoured three cabbage rolls before kick-off. Some Barcelona fans would be forgiven for thinking Raphinha was wearing his boots on the wrong feet.
But, as Barca huffed and puffed on the outskirts of the nation’s capital, their manager provided a reminder of his own playing ability with all the subtlety of an elephant creeping home after a night out.
As an errant crossfield pass narrowly missed a nearby aeroplane on its remorseless arc out of the parameters of play, Xavi stood with god-like serenity on the touchline.
Only his eyes moved at first. At least, that’s how it appeared to the naked eye. But Xavi’s brain was, just like his playing days, already a couple of steps ahead.
Extending his well-coiffured right foot behind his left leg, the Barcelona icon gave the ball a cushioned landing and X-rated flick back onto the pitch.
The crowd inside the Coliseum Alfonso Perez whooped appreciatively. Perhaps they were just grateful for something to distract from the inevitability of their own mortality. The remainder of the game certainly offered no such distraction.
But Xavi already seems a key protector of the proud tradition of managers flaunting their technical prowess in an assertion of touchline dominance. Long may he reign.
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After the game, Xavi showed he’s learnt plenty from Jurgen Klopp with a surreal excuse for the stalemate in the Spanish capital.
“The state of the grass has affected us,” the Barcelona boss bemoaned. “Yesterday we trained with a dry field. I have been criticised a lot for the issue of the surface. Today the whole world has seen it.
“It is very difficult to play like this, it is bad for the show. The ball gets stuck, it’s bad even for Getafe. It’s essential that it be in good condition.”
In response, Getafe boss Quique Sanchez Flores said: “The grass is beautiful and it’s the same for both of us. There they leave it very short and very fast. For your technical conditions. We played in the conditions that are best for us. We have not done anything outside the rules of procedure.
He also delivered a doozy after hearing about Barcelona’s complaints of the sunny conditions: “Nivea, ‘after sun’, anything.”
Despite their latest stumble, Xavi’s side remain 11 points clear of Real Madrid. Considering their arch-rivals have sacked off the league in pursuit of another European Cup, we’re not going out on a limb by suggesting the title is already in the bag.
In the absence of goals, excitement and drama yesterday, the majority of the focus will be on Xavi’s bizarre Klopp-esque excuse for his side’s limitations.
But we prefer to focus upon his naughty backheel instead because it almost mirrored life itself; long periods of nothingness punctuated by a fleeting moment of joy.
By Michael Lee