If there is one thing on this planet that I really dislike, it is when players, coaches, or any other club officials whine about surrounding conditions of a football match.
That’s why I got kind of annoyed seeing the press quote a comment Xavi made for the Catalan TV channel TV3 after the match. There he blamed the state of the pitch for the difficulties Barcelona experienced during the first leg of the Supercopa against Atlético.
According to the Barcelona midfielder, the pitch was “really dry,” and that dryness was why Barcelona were not able to move the ball around the way they are used to, and that on the wet pitch of Camp Nou this will be different.
Even though he also mentioned Atlético played well and providing their share of problems for Barca, this leaves a strange feeling that made me want to switch to Cholo Simeone mode and shout to him, “Be a man and show some cojones!!!”
For me, using the excuses of pitch condition, weather, the ball, or even the noise, is lame. Every time I hear a player, coach, or other official whining about the conditions, I ask myself when someone will finally come out and blame the eye-cancer-causing colour combination of the opponents’ shirt for a bad performance, or that nice looking blonde seated in the first row for causing players to lose concentration!
I think it’s poor form to blame others for your own bad performance. Don’t get me wrong, I really like Xavi as a player, and I have a lot of respect for his skills, but his performance in the Supercup match at the Calderón was far from good. I always expected him to be above that type of criticism to use that kind of excuse.
The thing with pitch condition is that both teams have to play on the same one! Okay, if you are the home team and are used to it, you can use it as an advantage, but I don’t think Atlético did that.
I know the Calderón more for being the complete opposite. Instead of being too dry, from the many matches I’ve witnessed from the stands of the Calderón and the many more from in front of the TV, the pitch is usually too wet!
That’s what makes it even harder to understand Xavi’s complaint. I cannot count how many times I have seen our players slip and slide their way through a match. I even began questioning the players’ choice of shoes, and was seriously of a thought that neither Puma, nor Adidas, nor Nike were able to provide our players decent footwear, before I noticed that the reason for the slipping was the wet grass.
In my opinion, the only possibile reason why the pitch might have been dry is a simple, natural one, and not due to infrequent watering of it the way Xavi described.
In Madrid, it has been over 35 degrees for days, and even at the late hour of the Supercopa, it was still hot. So it’s kind of natural that, even if the grass is watered every day, it’s more dry than usual due to outside temperature.
Xavi can’t seriously think someone would believe that he has never seen a dry pitch in a sunny state like Spain. In Barcelona they might always keep their grass wet, but that does not require all the other teams to do the same.
I dare to say that in Spain, the summer temperatures are always like this, and that this, surely, can not be the first time Barca has played in the heat.
And, even if Atlético had purposely provided a dry pitch to gain advantage, there is nothing wrong with it. Barcelona will have their own on the return leg, because their pitch is wet and our players slip. (Remember that 5-0 drubbing in the rain?)
I understand it must be a whole lot easier to blame the conditions of the pitch for not being able to rotate the ball than to admit the great defensive and tactical work of the Rojiblancos –who closed all open spaces and made it impossible for Barcelona to build up their typical game– and give them the credit for having a great night. Much easier to talk it down. But, for me, that is a sign of disrespect.