By Eric Beard, writing from Barcelona
When 90 minutes were up and the whistle blew for extra time, time, for a moment, seemed suspended. Perhaps it was exhaustion, frustration, unbelievable pressure, or just two things wonderfully canceling one another out, but every player on the pitch in Valencia for the Copa del Rey had a moment of pure “what more can I do?”. Maybe it was Xavi finding a few inches time and time again only to find that Mourinho’s defensive shape was absolutely perfect. Maybe it was Pepe’s glorious header off the post or Dani Alves’ near-perfect performance making Mesut Ozil seem nothing more than malignant on the wing. Maybe it was Messi after being kicked by Xabi Alonso or Ronaldo not getting a few calls because of his reputation or Pedro seeing he was marginally offside moments after erupting into ecstasy. Every player will tell you that they cherished those minutes against their rivals, but at the same time those minutes were filled with the highest degree of irritation. But is all this angst, all this trepidation, simply football at its highest form?