Sunday, December 11, 2011

El Clasico Review - No. Not yet.

Timing of the fixture

When the Clasico was announced for Saturday, the first thing I checked was to see when the two clubs are playing in the midweek. To my disappointment, it was Madrid on Wednesday, while Barcelona played on  Tuesday. Moreover, Madrid traveled to Amsterdam to play Ajax while Barcelona were at home. In such a scenario it surely made sense to have the match on Sunday! Just two days to prepare - surely a match of this importance deserved better.

That both Real and Barcelona had qualified in the champions league with a game to spare meant that this was not such a big issue, but Mourinho for some reason started with quite a few stars that night - including Kaka, Benzema and Higuain. Even Alonso came off the bench to play a part in the game. What was the necessity for them to even travel before such a big fixture, I still cannot fathom. On the other side, Pedro was the only possible Clasico starter to feature on Tuesday for Barcelona.


Most of the talk surrounding the game was that for the first time in many seasons Real Madrid entered the match as slight favorites. They were on a 15 match unbeaten streak, while Barcelona had dropped points in away fixtures - including most recently to Gatefe and Bilbao (And narrow wins at Gijon and Granada). Madrid were heading into the game with a 3 point advantage and a game in hand.

Lineups & Formation

I was expecting Madrid to continue from the previous season with a 4-3-3 that included Alonso, Khedira and Lass/Coentrao in the middle three. For Barcelona the only question was where would Alves play - In the back four or as a part of midfield four.

Mourinho (pleasantly) surprised many with a more attacking starting formation with Ozil in the midfield three. The shocker was preference for Lass ahead of Khedira. I need a separate blog to just tell you how much I hate La$$.


For a side with so many stars Real Madrid were surprisingly rigid in their formation. At the least when things were not going well, CR7 and Di Maria should have changed wings. With CR7 and Di Maria always cutting in, they were narrowing the game, which made it easy for Puyol and co.

Barcelona on the other hand could change between a 3-4-3 and 4-3-3 at the drop of a hat. Messi dropped back at will and Iniesta was all over the pitch.


When things were going wrong, Messi took charge of the game. Madrid has the answers to most Barcelona players except for him. With Madrid dominant at the half hour mark, a visibly frustrated Messi dropped deep, got clear of la$$ and found Alexis clear with a superb through ball. And just like that for all the domination of Madrid, Barcelona were level.

The Match

For once we only talk football. It was not bad luck, as Mourinho eluded to - But Barcelona were the superior side on the night. But Madrid are closer than ever before. Better finishing and the result could have been very different. They also need to improve their defense - Messi shouldn't have been allowed to string passes in the manner he did for their first goal.

The result is a disappointing 1-3 loss at home, when Barcelona were there for the taking. Now the mind is cluttered with self doubt. As much as this Classico result was important, it is the number of points Madrid is going to drop against other teams that is going to determine the winner of the league. The fans need a response. In Seville.


Benzema and DiMaria. They were absolutely brilliant in the first half. Especially Benzema. Having performed on the biggest stage must have given them great confidence.

In Ronaldo we Trust 

One must not forget that Ronaldo is our top scorer and carried the side admirably last year including in the copa win. A final thought from what Guti said after watching Madrid play from the stands for the first time:

"Doubting Cristiano is like doubting Messi when he plays a bad match with the Argentine national team."

And as Mourinho said post game : "We're Leaders"

Hala Madrid!

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