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Sorry, Spurs, that wasn’t the real Barcelona

OPINION: Despite progressing in Europe, even the most excitable Tottenham fan surely doesn’t expect their team to be crowned European champions in May

13 December, 2018 — By Richard Osley

HEARTY congratulations to Tottenham Hotspur for qualifying from their Champions League group with a late draw against Barcelona.

I say “Barcelona”, but at the risk of raining on the slightly hysterical reaction we’ve seen from Spurs fans over the last couple of days, it is worth reminding everybody that Tottenham slogged to a draw against what was essentially a B team. Maybe even a C team. Certainly a team that almost won a match they had no real interest in winning against Tottenham.

When Arsenal defeated the real Barcelona in 2011, the Gunners were up against a Spanish wonderteam: Pique, Iniesta, Xavi, Dani Alves, David Villa and Lionel Messi.

Tottenham, by contrast, finally secured a draw against the not-so-terrifying Munir, Arthur and Alena. Yes, Messi made a brief cameo but this was like thinking you’ve bought a ticket for The Rolling Stones only to get your spot down near the front of the stage and finding you are actually at a Keane concert. Or a Menswear gig. Or Travis.

If Barcelona play properly, Spurs lose, as we saw at Wembley in October. Even the most excitable Tottenham fan, and we all know one or two, surely does not expect their team to be crowned European champions in May.

Last year, they beat Real Madrid and there was a similarly foamy reaction, but when the competition got serious it was Real who went on to win it. In the meantime, what goes unsaid, is that Tottenham’s exhausting group stages helped pave the way for Arsenal to roast them 4-2 earlier this month in that unforgettable north London derby.

• THE Sun published photographs of Arsenal players in a nightclub appearing to take laughing gas balloons.

Don’t take nitrous oxide, everyone, it’s not good for you. Don’t do it, don’t do it, people have died, don’t do it. If you are a fan of another club, however, step out of the mystic world where nobody connected to your team has ever done something similar.

The newspaper, triumphant at its exclusive, said Matteo Guendouzi and co were setting a bad example to all of the young people who idolise these players. Yes. Of course, there would be no risk of the players’ barmy actions influencing anybody’s impressionable minds if these four-month-old photos had not been printed on their front page and shared across the internet.

Given so many people do not seem to understand what is meant by “hippy crack”, the coverage is more likely to make people intrigued about it, drawn to it even, given the band of brothers camaraderie that seems to be fuelling Arsenal’s unbeaten run. They look like happy playmates in a nightclub – and on the pitch. The zany coverage doesn’t absolve the Arsenal players from doing something foolish, but it did get people wondering if anybody on Fleet Street had ever inhaled.


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