In what can only be described as one of the most thrilling games during this La Liga season, thus far, Barcelona and Real Madrid once again showed just why they are considered to be two of the best teams in the world. A game driven by far more than just a club rivalry, this clash had it all…underlying political tension, a showdown between Messi and Ronaldo and some of the finest football! A draw that would mark Barça’s first of the season, and the 47th between these Spanish rivals, offered a tense ninety minutes of swift, precise and beautiful footy, synonymous with this historical clash that dates back all the way to 1929.
A Political Affair – Catalonia v. Spain
With more political tension than ever before, as the people of Catalonia continue to fight for their independence, last night’s match opened the door for Catalonia to show millions watching worldwide that they would not back down in their struggle for autonomy. FC Barcelona allowed a sold-out Camp Nou’s 98,000 fans to proudly display a mosaic, depicting the Catalan colors. The chants for independence roared out during the 17th minute and 14th second of the game, in reference to the Catalan military defeat in the War of the Spanish Succession in 1714, further added to this political demonstration.
Despite the fact that Barça defender, Pique, had stated via Twitter that “The games between Barcelona and Madrid increasingly resemble Catalonia against Spain and this should not happen…It’s just a football match”, for the people of Catalonia it was certainly far more than just that. Fellow teammate, Xavi, praised his football club for allowing fans to display the Catalan colors, but played down the political tension surrounding the game. Whether or not the team considered it just a game, it was clearly a politically driven event for those die-hard Catalan folks seeking independence from Spain.
Dynamic Display by Messi and Ronaldo
Messi and Ronaldo, undoubtedly two of the best players in the world gave fans a spectacular showdown last night, as both scored two goals in the game that would end in the 47th draw between the two sides. Surrounded by numerous Barça fans, many referred to the face-off as a “Western duel at sunset”. CR7 found the net in the 23rd to put the Madridistas in the lead with a perfect pass from Benzema, but Messi would equalize for the Blaugranas merely eight minutes later as a defensive slip by Los Blancos granted the Messi-ah an easy ball flicked right past Casillas. Messi would double the score in the 61st minute with a free kick from about 25 yards outside the box, once again showing why he is considered the best in the world by millions of fans and critics. Just as quickly as Messi had equalized in the first half, CR7 did the same to level the score, once again. What could have sealed the win for Barça came from a surprising substitute, Montoya in the 89th minute, who found the crossbar leaving fans hanging on the edge of their seats, followed by a wide ball from Pedro just seconds later, yet the Barcelona side found themselves without that winning goal. The game marked Messi’s 17th career goal against Madrid, leaving him one short of Madrid legend, Di Stefano’s record. As the table stands, Messi, Ronaldo and Falcao are tied at the top of the La Liga goal scoring sheet, with 8 goals each.
Barça’s Defensive Woes Continue…
It goes without saying that all eyes were fixated on the thinning Barça backline, which sans Pique and Puyol seemed to unravel. FC Barcelona, who certainly cannot afford any further injuries, especially to their shaky defense took another hit when Alves suffered an injury to his left thigh in the 27th minute. Medical reports have ruled the Barcelona full back out of action for the next three weeks. Vilanova praised his squad post-game, stating that they had managed to remain in the game, despite the absence of the first-choice back four: Alves, Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique and Abidal.
Blaugrana’s Stellar Offensive Play
Although many may still be questioning the absence of star-striker, David Villa, Barcelona showed off their dynamic and swift skills as they maintained control constantly finding their way to the into the Real Madrid half. A more flowing play radiated during the second half as the Messi-Alexis duo displayed their undeniable chemistry, granting the sold out crowd at the Nou Camp a stellar show…one that won’t be forgotten any time soon. One can’t help but wonder, had Barcelona been able to utilize their full line-up, just how differently this game could have ended?
Barça and Atlético Madrid Atop the League
Following Atlético Madrid’s defeat over Malaga, and yet another tremendous display by Falcao, Atlético remains tied with Barcelona, both atop the league with 19 points. Real Madrid trails by eight as tensions remain to run high between several players and Mourinho, showing once again that perhaps there may be some truth to the theory that locker-room drama inevitably makes its way onto the field…
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