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Bobby McMahon

Bobby McMahon

You can see me on Soccer Central most Mondays and Thursdays on Rogers Sportsnet in Canada. I write a regular column for Forbes.com and Soccerly.com and frequently guest on various podcasts and radio shows.


TANGENTS

The Biggest Game This Season So Far…

Written by on December 10, 2011 | 12 Comments »
Posted in Barcelona, La Liga, Real Madrid

Real Madrid v Barcelona

The biggest game of the season……blah blah blah. But the fact is that it is. If you don’t want to watch this game then you are following the wrong sport.

Real Madrid made progress last season but only enough to win the Copa del Rey. The Champions League and La Liga both went Barcelona’s way.

Standard operating procedure for Real Madrid in that circumstance would be to wave the cheque book. They did sign players but it seemed to be in a more focused and targeted manner than we normally see. 

Fábio Coentrão offers cover and options in a number of positions, the price of Nuri Şahin from Borussia Dortmund was just too good to pass on, while Raphael Varane from Lille was one for the future.

Barcelona made even fewer signings although they were of a higher profile – Fabregas from Arsenal and Alexis Sanchez from Udinese. 

Real Madrid have set the pace so far this season so much so that a win on Saturday could open up a potential nine-point gap.

Barcelona trail Real by three points and have played a game more on account of the FIFA Club World Cup coming up.

Real Madrid have won 10 consecutive league matches and have not dropped points in over two and a half months. In 14 games they have scored 49 goals

Ronaldo has plundered 17 Liga goals (same as Messi) but the contribution from Angel Di Maria should not be overlooked.

He has had 10 assists (depending on the source used) in his last seven league appearances and has also scored 3 times.

The conventional wisdom has Mesut Özil starting on the bench with Higuain or Benzema starting between Ronaldo and Di Maria with a midfield of Diarra, Alonso and Khedira.

We can only wait and see how true the speculation is. 

Barcelona’s Gerard Piqué missed last week’s 5-0 win over Levante on account of suspension but his relatively poor form does not mean he is an automatic starter for this match as in past seasons.

Barcelona have only conceded seven goals this season but the bad news is that they have all been away from home.

Barcelona’s away record is poor with 2 wins, 3 draws and a loss, they have scored 8 and conceded 7.

Fabregas has been the most prolific scorer on the road and he has scored 3 times. Messi has only scored once away from the Nou Camp as opposed to 16 in the confines of home.

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12 responses to “The Biggest Game This Season So Far…”

  1. Soccerlogical says:

    Barca will not lose and Messi will outshine Cronaldo.

  2. That was some shift we witnessed during the game. Real Madrid pressing early on but after Dani Alves pushed further forward and Madrid started to tire the game came back to Barcelona.
    No such stat but I wonder how many slide tackles Real made?

  3. Gabe says:

    Iniesta was amazing in the 2nd half

  4. J Rob says:

    Another fantastic game. Thought Barca defended well after conceding such an awful early goal. Iniesta indeed terrific 2nd half. Can see why Sanchez is favoured. Good in tight spaces. Took his goal so well. Fabregas must have been in heaven scoring the decisive goal in this derby. Had so much to do for that goal. As for Ronaldo. Bet even he might have a sleepless night after that terrible headed miss just before Fab’s goal.

    One last thought. Anyone else think that there wouldn’t have been 22 players left on the field if this had been an EPL game? Madrid especially got away with some shockers in the 2nd half. Even Messi got in on the act.

    How many months till the next game? Dreaming of them meeting in the semi’s of the Champion’s League. Too good of a contest to be settled in 90 mins.

  5. Soccerlogical says:

    For all of Ronaldo’s immense talent, the single characteristic trait he does not posses is fostering team spirit and playing for one another like a Messi or Zidane. As ironic (and foolish) as it may sound, the only way this Real Madrid side would be able to beat Barca (in a majority of games) is if the team was built around Kaka. Ronlado would benefit Madrid by coming off the bench or not being on the team at all. Mind you, I am mainly directing this to head to head vs Barca!

    As previously stated, Barca will allow Mardid to win La Liga just for some “variety” BUT they will demolish RM in matches, especially Champions League which is their main priority…. for posterity.

  6. John Bladen says:

    Well, so much for RM outclassing Barcelona this year… even with a gift first minute goal (Valdes doing a reasonably good Robert Green impression there)

    Agreed on the importance of these games (even in years where the title is effectively decided)… even if you aren’t a fan of either club, this is similar to ManU v LFC or Spurs v Arsenal ties. If you can’t get up for these…

  7. John Bladen says:

    Bobby;

    As I’ve said before, I don’t watch a lot of Spanish or South American football. However, every time I watch RM play someone other than Barcelona (even in CL) they seem to be a much better team than when playing their national rivals…

    So, is this representative of the quality of the relative sides (IE: RM=>everybody else but << FCB)? Or is it perhaps that years of fan-approved popular transfer moves have built a skilled offensive squad (with an improved but perhaps still not elite defense than 3 yrs ago) but one that is completely incapable of playing a style that can beat FCB?

    Or is it something else entirely??? Thoughts?

  8. John Bladen says:

    Sorry for the grammatical errors above, readers, but apparently the edit function is off line again…

  9. Gabe says:

    JB – The reality is that Barcelona is the best team by far in the world and RM is the second best also by far. So when RM plays anyone else they can outclass them and tear them apart most times. But when they play Barca is a whole different matter.

  10. John Bladen says:

    Gabe, I do not dispute FCB as the best club in the world. The question is, is the apparent gap to RM and the rest down more to style of play or straight talent…

    Not many clubs can attract the talent necessary to play the way FCB does, obviously. But clubs have beaten them. Inter did last year, though they needed some considerable good fortune to do so.

  11. Hovik says:

    John, Inter beat Barca 2 years ago with an offside goal in Inter… and you cant even call that futball… defending for 90 minutes and not being able to hold the ball for more than 10 seconds. And again as you mentioned it was pure luck. I agree with Gabe, Barca is the best club. Their style of play is awesome and they put in any player in the system and team functions fine but when they have Messi on the field.. Barcelona is a totally different team. On top of that, add Iniesta, Xavi, sergio busquet and others.. the chemistry between them is amazing.

  12. John Bladen says:

    Hovik, they did… though that goal was in the first leg as you referenced. I would never say that any single call in the first leg of a 2 leg match ‘decided’ the tie… but it did give JM the chance to park the proverbial bus, and he took it.

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