IT WAS El Clasico Mk II – just 72 hours after the battle of the Bernabeu – but this time it took place in a trailer in a Halewood car park.
And even though Real Madrid were boosted by the added nous of Marouane Fellaini, victory still went to the Catalan giants and tiki-taka.
Confused? It may help to realise that the car park was at Everton’s Finch Farm training ground, and Fellaini was attempting to bully Tim Cahill’s Barcelona as the pair took part in EA Sports’ Pro Player challenge on FIFA 12.
The FIFA truck was in town so Everton’s players could bid to prove they’ve got what it takes on a game’s console as well as on the pitch.
The first game, that Clasico re-enactment, was full of good-natured banter and typical no-holds-barred sparring – especially when competitors like Cahill and Fellaini square-up.
Outside it was cold and windy – inside the atmosphere was hotting up like a summer night on the Ramblas.
“Boom! Smashed him,” cried Cahill, after he prompted the on-screen Eric Abidal to scythe down Cristiano Ronaldo while in full flow.
Fellaini, who at times appeared to be winging it when it came to controlling his array of stars, responded by using the midfield dark arts to distract his team-mate.
Leaning into Cahill, with a subtle shove, he shouted something in French and saw a shot whistle just wide of Victor Valdes’ unguarded post. It was admirable cunning. “Hala Madrid,” he crowed.
But no clasico is complete without a bit of real controversy, and this contest’s dose of outrage arrived in the 89th minute.
Cahill’s Lionel Messi had ghosted typically past every White shirt, and was bearing down on the Real goal when the giant flat-screen TV in front of us suddenly went blank. A power cut.
Cahill was on his feet yelling in an instant.
“Outrageous – I want a steward’s inquiry. I was through there!” he bawled, tongue only half in cheek.
The monitor flickered back to life only for Fellaini to avert danger and tough out extra time.
Penalties. This was it. And the laid-back Belgian will admit this was not his finest hour.
His crudely controlled spot kicks were lame and straight at Valdes, while Cahill’s men buried all but one of there own.
Victory was the Socceroos – and Cahill cemented his Goodison King of the Console title by beating Seamus Coleman in the final, after the plucky Irish contender had edged Louis Saha.
The EA SPORTS Pro Player Challenge has previously travelled to Arsenal, Chelsea, Fulham, Newcastle, Manchester City, Bolton, Aston Villa, Derby, and Leeds to find the best FIFA 12 players in football.
The other winners were Jack Wilshere, Romelu Lukaku, Matthew Briggs, Ryan Taylor, Joleon Lescott, Gary Cahill, Gary Gardner, and Robert Snodgrass
But like in real life Cahill, who even stars on the cover of the game back in Australia, can still teach the youngsters a thing or two.
Everton’s footballers were playing in the FIFA 12 Pro Player Challenge. The game is out now – go to YouTube. com/easports football to watch football stars from across the country go head to head to find football’s greatest FIFA 12 player.