The World’s Best Club?
When Barcelona appointed Pep Guardiola as head coach in 2008, their primary objective was to stop the growing domination of Real Madrid, who were not only financially more dominant but had won the La Liga back to back in Spain.
With financial limitations and struggling and feuding star players in Samuel Eto’o and Ronaldinho to name a few, it seemed like an uphill task.
Guardiola set in and introduced several players from Barcelona’s B team, groomed from La Masia (Barcelona’s legendary academy).
Off went Ronaldinho and the mantle of playmaker shifted to an upcoming smaller Argentine player named Lionel Messi. Greater autonomy was given to Iniesta and Xavi and the footballing world was never the same again.
This was the beginning of world domination — Tiki Taka football was taken to higher heights coupled with brutal pressing football and all of a sudden rivals Real Madrid started to play catch up.
It was so bad that even the introduction of then Champions League-winning coach Jose Mourinho could not deter Barcelona’s domination.
In fact, Madrid suffered their most humiliating period versus Barcelona under Mourinho, highlighted by the 5-0 drubbing that got the usually proud Mourinho to admit it was the worst defeat of his coaching career.
This video below attests to Real Madrid’s Torture! (Wish you understood the commentator)
Fast forward to December 2014 and although Messi is breaking Champions League goal-scoring records, it is all about Real Madrid.
Head coach Carlo Ancelotti’s team are the current Champions League trophy holders after beating Atletico Madrid in the summer, Cristiano Ronaldo won Uefa’s highest goal award and Real Madrid top the La Liga league table in December.
On the international scene, Real Madrid have been majestic. Six Uefa 2014/2015 Champions League games and six victories, while scoring 16 goals and conceding only two! Only five teams in history have managed to win all six games in the group stages of the Champions League.
As a signal of the power shift, Real Madrid have broken the record set by Barcelona by accumulating their 19th consecutive win in all competitions, a new world record.
With a team full of superstars who not only can play but also work when not in possession, Real are sure looking like the ‘vogue’ team of the moment!
Barcelona are still a force to reckon with, but I do feel they now have to struggle more to win games unlike when they were at their best.
When they they were at their best they seemed have no weak links and even though the naysayers called them boring, they deprived their opponents of so much possession, it seemed more like training sessions even when they took on the best.
Today, Real Madrid players like Ronaldo, Kroos, Rodriguez, Bale, Modric and Benzema are the names that are on the lips of international football lovers. Barcelona, meanwhile, struggled to wrestle first place from Paris St Germain in their Champions League group with a final-day home win.
This Madrid side can not only play “Tiki Taka”, but in Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo, coupled with the great passing skills of Kroos, they can vary their game to play direct football and counter with lightning speed when possible. This makes it difficult to counter their tactics as it varies based on the situation in front of them.
No team dominates forever just as no man lives forever. Some argue that Real Madrid do look better than Barcelona today because they have greater financial might to reinforce and build this great team, while Barcelona have to mostly rely on their academy.
However, we must not ‘over flog’ this point as Barcelona did spend €96 million on just one player (Luis Suarez) on top of other new acquisitions like Rakitic etc.
Life is like a stage — sometimes you find yourself centre stage and in the limelight and other times you have to make way for the next performer. I guess that’s what Barcelona have to live with now. It’s Real Madrid’s turn to shine!