MADRID, SPAIN - JANUARY 18: Pepe (L) of Real Madrid is tackled by Cesc Fabregas of Barcelona during the Copa del Rey Quarter Finals match between Real Madrid and Barcelona at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on January 18, 2012 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
Another week passes with another Barcelona win in El Clasico, and surprise, surprise, it was Pepe who grabbed the headlines with another incident of violent behaviour. Instead of talking about Barcelona’s fine comeback at the Bernabeu or Mourinho’s tactical ineptitude it seems we have been inundated with people deciding Pepe’s behaviour is the main talking point. That in itself is sad.
We all know that it was intentional, we all know his history, yet the debate is ongoing. Thing is, I really don’t know what about. Even worse, I barely even care about the incident; sure it was violent, unnecessary and symbolised everything wrong with these Clasico encounters, but it was half-expected. How many people were shocked that it was Pepe in trouble? On the flip-side, did it surprise you that Messi was the victim of this spontaneous violence?
While Marca have started a crusade against Mourinho with the use of (borderline racist) journalism and others argue about the length of ban Pepe should receive, I think to myself, why didn’t anyone see this coming, and what use is a ban in this situation?
When I think of Pepe, I think about his red card against Getafe, and I think of poor Jordi Casquero. When I talk about Pepe to any of my friends, they remember his red card against Barcelona in the Champions League. Who remembers a classic Pepe goal or anything positive at all?
His red card against Getafe was ridiculous, and that 10 match ban was one of the longest ever handed out to a player for a red card. However, what good is a ban? I know as a fact that if I went out onto the street, pushed someone over before proceeding to kick them twice and then stamp on them a couple more times I would probably be arrested. Depending on the situation, I could be jailed for assault.
What makes Pepe different to us mere mortals?
Is a football pitch different to the rest of the world, free of jurisdiction? Or is a red card a worthy substitute for jail these days? From what I gather from Pepe, this may not be far from the truth.
Now, I am not saying that Pepe should be jailed, far from it, but surely a ban is not enough for such aggression? What about some anger management classes and a substantial fine of say...10 weeks wages, one week for each match he missed? Something tells me Real Madrid and the Spanish Football Federation did not do enough when Pepe first displayed violent behaviour and as a result, he has not learnt anything from his previous suspensions. So long as he escapes with mere suspensions, there will be no end to his violent behaviour.
Getting back to the match on Wednesday, the worst part is that Pepe actually played well prior to his moments of madness. Yet again he was a colossus in the middle of the park, and if we forget about his laughable play-acting attempts he did little wrong. If he could have controlled himself from stamping on Messi’s hand, his whole performance would have slipped under the radar of the mainstream media.
The Clasico itself always creates controversy, and it always divides opinion, but Guidance’s latest piece goes to show that between us as a whole, we have faith in the side. No matter who we are, we understand the Barcelona system in such a way that we can predict scores, analyse faults and suggest weaknesses for the opposition. All the while Real continue to experiment in their quest to regain supremacy, leaving their fans feeling anxious, unfamiliar with this style of play, a tense atmosphere comes to prominence and mental doubts begin to creep in, making life even more difficult for Los Merengues to get a result against a confident Blaugrana side.
Bit early to make a prediction, but who’s betting against another Barcelona win?