We've had a fun build-up to our Champions League semifinal against Barcelona, haven't we? Over the last few days we have been seeing a handful of unfortunate stories about Barcelona players 'disrespecting' the Blues - check out ESPN's recent headlines for a few examples. Or don't, because I'm about to do it for you, and the whole basis of civilisation is that we don't have to repeat each others' work all the time.
And, like every other Chelsea fan on the internet, my instinctive reaction is to go into a hilarious futile rage at the Catalans' arrogance and then tease them about being so obsessed with my club that they have to talk smack about us before a match in which they're heavy favourites. But don't fall into that trap, because it's not really Barcelona's fault.
A look at the quotes paints a much fuller, more innocuous picture. Cesc Fabregas was talking about the difference in styles between Andre Villas-Boas' Chelsea and Roberto di Matteo's, and he's just about spot on with his assessment. Dani Alves may have overlooked the whole Tom Henning Ovrebo thing, but he's almost certainly right in saying that Barcelona were there for the taking in our last semifinal and Chelsea failed to exploit that, poor refereeing or no. They read to me like... footballers answering questions.
The tone in which these quotes are interpreted doesn't come from the quotes themselves, it comes from the people writing about said quotes. I could write an imaginary article right now, using exactly the same quotes from Fabregas, on about three different subjects. Possible headlines include:
- Fabregas fears Drogba threat
- Arsenal's tactics deficient, says Barcelona's Cesc Fabregas
- Cesc Fabregas is a smelly [redacted]
Ok, I probably wouldn't publish the last one, but still. All of that's in there, and as a writer it's simply a matter of choosing the angle you want to hit. Here, the name of the game is tapping into the rancor Chelsea fans still feel towards Barcelona over the 2009 semifinal, and the likes of Soccernet are more than happy to fuel the flames a little bit, twisting everyone's words until they slot into the overarching narrative.
From where I stand, it doesn't look like Barcelona are the ones causing trouble.