It was a match anticipated by millions; the clash of Spanish Superpowers FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. A derby that has come to be known as “El Clasico”- a rivalry that sees the best of Spanish futbol face off; Lionel Messi v. Christiano Ronaldo and Guardiola v. Mourinho. But while many may be so swept up in the big name showdown, they are unaware that this rivalry is one of political, social and regional relevance that dates back to 1902. Today, the rivalry has become one viewed by millions worldwide.
As expected, the game did not disappoint. Both Pep and Mou made some decisions that were questionable by some, and for one, it seemed to pay off; Mourinho had chosen to put Higuain on the bench and place younger striker, Benzema up front aside Ozil. At first glance, literally, 21 seconds in, this seemed to have been a brilliant move on Mou’s behalf. Regardless of the fact that the only reason for the goal being allowed by the Barcelona defense was a miscommunication in the backline. That did not matter; Benzema had gone to score the fastest goal in Clasico History, and only the 5th goal between the two teams in the first minute.
At the other end, fans were left wondering why Guardiola had chosen to bench star-striker David Villa as he opted for an offense consisting of Alexis, Messi and Fabregas. Doubters were silenced and quickly reminded that Guardiola always makes the best decisions when it comes to his squad. The formation and selection of players that he chose for this, the first “El Clasico” of the season was one that certainly paid off.
Real Madrid may have scored the first goal before the first minute had passed, but slow and steady wins the race. Alexis would be the one to equalize for FCB in the 30th minute, with a strategic play set up by none other than Lionel Messi.
Halftime at the Bernabeu, it certainly seemed anyone’s game, but Barcelona emerged from the locker rooms with a clear mission at hand. Before the 65th minute, two goals had been added to the Barcelona score sheet, Xavi and Fabregas joined Alexis to make it a solid three. The game would seem to highlight that the talent acquired by Barcelona had what it takes to make a difference in this Spanish Superpower.
The game did not disappoint, but knowing that it could have been a 6-6 game if both sides had truly capitalized on their plays, made this “El Clasico” a mediocre one. It was a decent game, make no mistake, but was it the best clash historically?
Even worse was the fact that Christiano Ronaldo and Messi seemed almost invisible in the match; Messi may have been responsible for assisting in two of Barcelona’s goals, but watching the game, it seemed that he had not gone to the Bernabeu to play. Perhaps this is the element that sets him apart from Ronaldo; his ability to step back and let others shine? Still baffled by the Ronaldo obsession; what exactly is it that he does; take penalty kicks and corners, but what about the rest of the ninety minutes? It would have been a more enticing game if both Ronaldo and Messi had played in the manner that people have become accustomed to seeing from these superstars.
So, what went wrong? For Real Madrid, the lack of passing amongst the offense seemed most troublesome, and it seemed as though the Real Madrid players were out for personal glory. On the other end of the field, it seemed as though Casillas, often referred to as the greatest keeper in the world seemed to put an end to all of Barcelona’s strategic plays. One must be honest, if it was not for Casillas, this game could have ended a 6-1 game at the Bernabeu.
This game was more than just a rivalry match for Barcelona; it was a chance to equalize the playing field in La Liga, but Barcelona did more than just that. They equalized and overtook Real Madrid on goal differential, while putting an end to Real Madrid’s 15-game winning streak.
La Liga is alive again as the two superpowers are tied. What will it take for Mourinho to break through Guardiola’s Empire?
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