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Barcelona Manager Guardiola

Barcelona Manager Guardiola - The image which Pep Guardiola presented when he came to face the press in the Camp Nou media room after Monday night's vicious destruction of Real Madrid was absolutely astonishing. Several of the Catalan journalists he knows and likes best were moist of eye and still hyperactive with the kind of adrenalin that grips the body when something unexpectedly joyous happens.

The Madrid-based journalists were shocked beyond belief.

What we had all gathered for were Guardiola's words -- a way to make sense of the soccer miracle we'd just been privileged to witness. But Guardiola could barely speak. Not because of emotion or muddled thoughts after wild celebrations in the dressing room. No, Guardiola's voice was ragged like Tom Waits with a bout of bronchitis.

Each sound Guardiola tried to make betrayed a vocal chord which had been stretched, battered and torn to near oblivion, so that when he spoke all that came out were a series of creaks and groans which made his words almost unintelligible.

What this usually elegant and controlled young man began to confirm was that, while he was proud to his core that Barcelona had performed irresistibly well in front of "the eyes of the world," for him it had been a tortuous night.

When you watch Guardiola on the touchline, he will normally need only a few words here and there while his epoch-defining footballers produce their own solutions to the puzzles posed by opposition defenses. Most often he'll sit patiently beside trusted assistant Tito Vilanova, dissecting what they are watching. That was not the case on Monday night.

Guardiola ranted and raved for nearly every one of the 95 minutes. He roared minor adjustments at his players, almost shredding his larynx in order to be heard above the primordial roar caused by 98,000 Catalans rejoicing as their team routed hated rival Madrid.

In the first half, Guardiola played the kind of "find-the-lady" trick which has kept street hustlers in the money for centuries using three facedown cards and a group of gullible passersby. Cristiano Ronaldo came to grab the ball off Guardiola. "Here it is! You want it? Oops, there it goes," the Barca manager seemed to be saying as he kept the ball from Ronaldo, who responded by shoving Guardiola in the chest. The game's first big fracas ensued.

Barcelona Manager Guardiola


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