Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Barca: Even Better Than The Real Team

Barca 5-0 Real Madrid: Special Team Crushes Special One, But Remember, It's Only November

Surely this Barca team must now rank as the best club side of recent times. Jose Mourinho had never been so heavily defeated in a competitive game; his teams are always well-organised and hard to beat, and filled with world class players of their own. But Barca blew Madrid away.

Perhaps Mourinho's mistake was to be a little less cynical than he sometimes is in this kind of encounter. Real did not park the bus- they came to play on the break, no doubt, but there were spaces for Barca to exploit, and they did it to devastating effect.

Of course the first goal was vital- it came early, and highlighted an unexpected softness to the centre of Madrid's defence. Typically sharp approach play saw Messi find Iniesta; he fired an early pass towards Xavi, breaking into the box. The ball took a kind ricochet off the tracking defender and Barca's midfield metronome dinked a cool volley beyond Casillas to give Barca the ideal start.

The second goal suggested that perhaps Mourinho is not working with the calibre of defender to which he is used. Again, the approach work was beautiful. This time it led to Villa taking on Ramos on the right side of Madrid's box. The striker beat his international teammate far too easily and fired a cross which squirmed beyond Casillas' grasp, for the onrushing Pedro to gleefully prod in.

Real had their moments in the remainder of the opening half. Ronaldo fired a decent free kick not far wide, seeming to draw some determination from a silly altercation with Guardiola on the touchline, after the Barca chief had refused to hand him the ball for a throw-in. At half-time, Mourinho replaced the subdued Ozil with Lassana Diarra. It had the look of damage-limitation, and if that was the intention, it backfired spectacularly.

Madrid looked to break Barca's hypnotic rhythm, pushing further up the pitch. The space they left behind them was invaded over and over. There were two near misses before the imperious Messi showed the main reason for his superiority over Ronaldo. Two wonderful pieces of vision, two assists for the ruthless Villa.

In the thirty-minutes plus that remained, Barca largely settled for embarrassing and frustrating their arch rivals with their peerless possession play. In stoppage time Jeffren iced the cake with a tidy finish from fellow sub Bojan's cross. Ramos had had enough and got himself sent off for a wild, dangerous lunge on Messi, followed by some kind of handbags with Puyol.

On the way off, he also raised a hand to Xavi. He looked set to take on the whole Barca team. But Real were no match for them in the footballing sense.

Mourinho will console himself with the memory of Barca producing a similarly-accomplished performance last season against Inter in the Champions League group stage. We all know who had the last laugh... would you bet against him repeating the trick?

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