Champions League semi-final, Tuesday Bayern – Real, Wednesday Chelsea – Barcelona. It doesn’t get much better than this, which should make all the people in charge at Sky’s mouth water. Today it is important to advertise football, to advertise one’s own programme offer, today one wins new customers, if someone comes to a friend’s house and sees football presented in this way for the first time at this level, then he has nothing more urgent to do than to take out a subscription himself for the next one. The number 1 and 2 of the best league in Europe – and thus certainly the best in the world – at the start, against two of the best teams from the rest of Europe, one English and one German, the latter of course being the biggest lure.
The fact that Sky is not aware of this had to be expected, no, it was actually clear in advance, had to be clear to anyone who knows the constant nonsense sprinkling in monotone from the Bundesliga, especially since the remark from the quarter-final match Milan vs Barcelona after 10 minutes of play was still ringing in your ears and heavy in your stomach, when some smart aleck with a microphone in his hand, who is paid by the pound every month, said that there were “an astonishing number of technical errors on both sides”. How could one hope for improvement these days, where could it come from?
On Tuesday, Marcel Reif had come up with the absurd criticism of Luiz Gustavo’s technical abilities – apart from all his other insanity that came to one’s ears – so one could be curious what to expect on Wednesday, as FC Barcelona, the acknowledged best team in the world, was to be seen and commented on.
Fritz von Thurn und Taxis had been assigned. A (relatively) good choice, one would think, because he comes up exclusively with cluelessness, which he by no means intends to conceal, and which thus represents a contrast to his colleagues in that they couple their equally great cluelessness with impudence and audacity, moreover adopting a tone of voice that is simply unbearable when one considers that it ought to be a matter of selling one’s wares to the man. Who, please, is supposed to want to look at the smorgasbord of inadequacies observed and described, who does one want to lure out from behind the stove with it?
Fritz von Thurn und Taxis, at any rate, seems to have a journalist’s honour, his tone is so good that one almost doesn’t get aggressive about it. Most of what he says is nonsense, the live “analyses” of the course of the game or the match are almost always inaccurate, but at least he seems to be attending an event that should not be missed. He puts a pregnantness of meaning into the tone that almost reminds one of the so often and highly praised English reporting. If you happen to tune in to this channel, you want to stay for a while, at least, until you realise that what he says and how he says it sounds great, but that it constantly misses the point.
Nevertheless, it was a relief for the usually much more battered ear, one could indulge in the illusion for a while that a football match, even if one has to put up with a German speaker, is something like exciting and entertaining, provided one succeeds well enough in blocking out the content heard.
Let it be said here that the author always takes great pleasure in watching football, that one is consistently full of admiration for the performance of those kickers down there, which goes down to far lower leagues, if one could see them. The commentary kills a lot of the enjoyment, only they have made it their duty to turn on the sound so that they can write about it, possibly for the better in the future.
It was a good game a very good game, provided you have the eye for it. Of course, you have to look a little deeper to understand this game well, even recall the previous games, of which there were a few, where it was also already noticeable that Chelsea have a physical superiority and put it on the line, permanently. This does not prevent Barca’s outstanding short passing game, but whenever the attackers want to enter the penalty area, preferably with the ball, there is simply a huge man there who does not let you pass.
Still, Barca came to some very good chances and the result can’t be called fair by any means, but they didn’t come to their chances so systematically that you could set the clock by it – and it rings here and there at the same time. Especially in the last 15 minutes, when Barca should have been able to create at least one big chance, the bar became tighter and tighter, almost impenetrable.
Well, to expect a description and analysis of the game in this form would be asking too much anyway, and that’s not what this article is about. The shock came when the following scene unfolded:
Barca combined once really outstanding, lightning fast and with this inimitable ball handling, especially when Messi takes part in the attack, through that one should not actually be able to close one’s mouth with stupor anyway, not even as a speaker, and thus leave the spectator alone with this enthusiasm, unless one could control one’s emotions to such an extent that one could make the clicking of one’s tongue audible.
Fabregas finished in the penalty area after perfect preparatory work by Messi, with a pass accurate to the millimetre without any exaggeration. Fabregas gets between the defender and the goalkeeper to shoot, in fantastic fashion, and not only that, he plays the best possible ball, twirling it between the keeper and the opponent, as a half-scoop, and so and only so the ball bounces towards the goal line, but without the maximum pace. The defender Ashley Cole, who put everything into this speed sprint, manages to deflect this bouncing ball centimetres from the goal line with an artistic save, no goal, still 1-0. The spectators in the stadium held their breath anyway, as it was predominantly Chelsea, but certainly those from Barca held their breath too, as spectators you could only marvel anyway, like at a circus performance, if you were neutral to what would really come out, and as a speaker you did:
“They played it sloppy to the end.”
Unbelievable, that simply couldn’t be true. As if it were a broadcasting requirement to include such an outrage at least once in the game, how else could one understand this with the consistently benevolent Fritz von Thurn und Taxis? What did he see there, what does he mean by that? In any case, the parroting of phrases that one of the reporters’ guild seems to prescribe and who thus achieves approval for the big book of 120 (then 121) German reporters’ sayings, which are conjured up by Bible thumping, is criticised, no matter what is happening on the pitch. But you really couldn’t have expected such a cockeyed misstep today under these circumstances, no, that was the lowest drawer, a low blow about 25 centimetres below the pit of the stomach, directly into the soft parts. Ouch! Sky, go home to England, where you earned the many millions that you are “wasting” here today, to use that word with far more justification.