It’s the statistically most depressing day of the year! So to celebrate, Counter Attack will look at three different Football Media Tropes from this weekend’s WHITE HOT EUROPEAN FOOTBALL ACTION.

1. “Two goals is the most dangerous lead in football.”

I’m sure we could find out the veracity of this little trope with some intelligent use of excel spreadsheets and a calculator, but then we’d irrevocably damage one of football’s most endearing idioms. Anyway, Barcelona sure proved it right (or at least provided a marvelous outlier) by scoring two goals in the first twenty-five minutes against Real Sociedad in the Estadio Anoeta, courtesy of Messi—because of course—and Pedro.

Then Real Sociedad did the other thing that may or may not be statistically relevant: they scored a few minutes before half-time, which probably “rocked” Barca’s confidence or something, or at least made Piqué forget that tripping is a yellow card offense in the second half.

Sociedad scored again in the 62nd minute (a Castro brace), and then in the ninety-plus-one, the almost undoubtedly easy-to-pronounce Agirretxe hit a third, the match-winner. Score a single goal and you may concede a draw, but never ever score two goals.

As for the the other trope about “Making Things Interesting in the Title Race”, Barcelona is still 8 points ahead of Atletico Madrid, and fifteen ahead of Real Madrid.

2. “Fergie’s mindgames”

Yes, the “SAF as Professor Xavier” trope refuses to disappear, but this one has taken on a very meta quality. As in, only the hardened Man United supporter would earnestly clamber to a keyboard to ticky-tack to the world that the Red Devils wuz robbed by assistant referee Simon Beck, who failed to award a penalty for what might have been a dive by Wayne Rooney on Steve Caulker, but also might not have been a dive. Or might have been a bit half-and-half.

The rest of us surely know by now that when Sir Alex Ferguson complains about a single 50/50 refereeing decision in a game where they were out-shot 25-5 (8-2 on target), he may have an ulterior motive. Which may involve deflecting attention away from an increasingly creaky back-four four, with one or two noted exceptions.

This is the less noted version of the more popular “chirping the opposition manager ahead of X game” approach, but it tends to work like a charm.

3. “Serie A is poor”

Man, the recent headlines aren’t really helping Serie A’s case for an improved UEFA co-efficient. Sneijder sent to Galatasaray after failing to take a pay cut, Milan refusing to meet Balotelli’s admittedly absurd £31 million transfer fee, and now rumours that the slight failure at Real Madrid Kaka will be returning to the San Siro for a smaller salary, convinced by having dinner with fellow Brazilian Robinho.

As if to hammer this trope deep inside our collective unconscious like a rusty train spike in the brain of a rabbit, Juventus’ Beppe Marotta had this to say on the topic of Edinson Cavani:

“Napoli striker Cavani? He’s unreachable for us and any other Italian side,” he said of the €63m valued striker. “He can only be signed by the Arabs or Russians.”

Along with, presumably, all the stars that might make Serie A cool again. Most believe if you build the stadiums they will come (‘they’ being lots and lots and lots of oil money, which is what really fuels (get it?) club spending these days), but it can’t just be Juventus and basically no other clubs.

THE EXCEPTION

“Player saves ex-footballer’s granddaughter from a well”