Barcelona Swallows Real Madrid!
Barcelona, once again (three years in a row) come out of the “El classico” in Spain victorious 3 goals to 1 in Madrid!It could easily have been a 6-3 victory! Ending Real Madrid’s 15 games unbeaten run, simultaneously!
Let’s face it, we were not only all surprised by the result, but were also given a lesson of how football should be played realistically! If there ever was a moment,lately,when one felt Madrid had a chance to Beat Barcelona, it definitely was now! Barça however proved us wrong, to have ever doubted their capabilities.
This very much awaited and talked about game, between arguably, the two best Teams in the world today did not disappoint. It Might have been a bit less spectacular like some of us expected at times, but it was full of spectacle: goals (4 of them) several missed scoring chances from both sides. More so , a beautiful display of “realism” football by Barcelona.
In analyzing this game, I would break this encounter into sections.
Barcelona’s Victor Valdez‘s provoked Error, in the very first minute of the game, not only gifted Real Madrid their opening and only goal by Karim Benzema, but set the tone of the game. This kind of error does happen, should be provoked and expected off teams like Barcelona or Ajax Amsterdam. These kind of possession oriented kind of teams heavily involve their Goalkeeper in their game build-up and passing. Unfortunately it happened on the most watched night! Short of that, Valdes was honestly not really tested all through the game that much. Ike Casillas on the other hand conceded 3 goals to no fault of his but once again what a disappointing defending by the Madrid Defence.
I really am not a fan of the Real Madrid Defense! In my opinion this strangely (for a Jose Mourinho’s Team) is the weak link in the Real Madrid set up. There really is a lack of co-ordination in their defending, when to :delay their on-coming opponents,throw in tackles, guide the opposing strikers out or in of play etc and they really do not give enough cover to the world class keeper they have in Casillas. This deficiency has always been evident in their past games to not much damage, but against a world class team like Barcelona they definitely are expensive.
On the opposing side, the fact that Barcelona defended almost the whole game with three permanent defenders in Carlos Puyol, Pique and Abidal is impressive and remarkable! Puyol was imperial, always between the opponent, ball and Barcelona’s goal. Best Defender on the night for me.
INIESTA! INIESTA!!,INIESTA!!! What a player. The best midfielder and player on the pitch. His ball coverage, movement, control and intelligence of play practically gave tempo to this game. And for upcoming players and even current professional players, I would strongly recommend studying and if possible imitating!
Via this department ?Real? lost the control of the game. They fought and tried to tackle hard to control the game, but the positioning and constantly timed movements of Xavi, Fabregas, Messi, Iniesta and Dani Alves was just too much for the combative fight of Alonso, Diarra, Otzil, Ze Maria and sometimes C. Ronaldo.
In this department due to the (initial) constant pressure of the Madrid midfielders, The Barça players intelligently and precisely adapted their game plan by quick change of play. They “unusually” used long passes to advance and create one on one situations to Madrid’s peril.
In this department I must say that the Barcelona tactic of playing without a central point striker drove the central defenders of Madrid Crazy. (David Villa started the game on the bench)
Some might ask how this was possible? By Pep Guardiola’s playing of Fabregas in place of Villa,Alexis Sanchez on the left wing, Lionel Messi free,this meant that at the onset of every Barcelona Attack the Central Defenders of Madrid (Sergio Ramos & Pepe) had no direct striker to mark and orient their positioning to, and the Barcelona players only came into the Central defence areas in movement, hence the constant lateness of the Madrid Central Defenders, That’s how the first goal of Barcelona by A. Sanchez was conceived and executed! Very intelligent.
True, Barcelona’s Second goal was a very lucky one coming off a deflection by Marcelo off a shot by Xavi etc but then again we should give credit to the pressing, movements, passing and shooting that preceded the Deflection into Goal. If you do not shoot at goal, you don’t get lucky, it’s simple, Luck does not take the ball on its own from the floor into the net, it has to be provoked!
The MESSI & RONALDO DUEL!
Once again in this classic Cristiano Ronaldo failed to deliver and in fact I was disappointed! Messi on the other hand whilst being less spectacular in comparison with other “El Clasicos” came very close to scoring twice and provided the hard worked out assist for Barcelona’s equaliser. His defence piercing through pass set up Sanchez for the equaliser.
I believe this victory, if ever there was any doubt before now, just consecrated Messi as The next World player of the year by FIFA. I do agree as most of you have written in that Messi is largely aided by his two lieutenants : Xavi & Iniesta ,plus the whole Barcelona game plan that’s built around him. That said, he still has to assume the weight of this responsibility and he is better than C Ronaldo in this aspect of the game at the moment! His dribbles unlike Ronaldo’s are mostly penetrating and forwards oriented.
I honestly believe they are by far the two best players in the world at the moment, but the big difference lies not only in the team built around them, but the ability of Messi to almost always make the right decisions with and without the ball better than Ronaldo,especially in important and determining games like this latest one,last night.
On a neutral note, it is great for us that Barcelona won otherwise we could easily have seen Real Madrid lead in a couple of weeks by 9 points, should they beat Seville in their outstanding game. A change of hands as champions in spain would also put some spice in the future,but at least let’s have some suspense till season end in May.
Psychologically though, it must be a nightmare situation for Jose Mourinho and his players. knowing that even at the moment that they are playing their best football they are unable to beat this Barcelona team at home in Madrid is frustrating! the absence of Carvahlo in the Real Madrid defence was highly felt.
They,Real Madrid, can still end this Season as Champions of Spain anyway, it might however entail them going out to beat all the lower placed teams in the ‘la Liga’ and hope that Barcelona falters against these same teams to give them at least a 4 points cushion come season end when they have to face Barcelona again in Barcelona.
Barcelona were by far the better team yesterday night and they really are the team to beat. They give us this deflating feeling that if they really play at their best they are near to being unbeatable at the moment!
The suspense has been launched, let’s enjoy it!