Saturday, October 25, 2014

Mediocre Barcelona and efficient Real Madrid

Today's classic clash between the Spanish giants Real Madrid and FC Barcelona was not as exciting as previous matches. Before the match, nobody had scored against Barcelona during this season, and perhaps some were expecting Barcelona to have an advantage when Neymar brought them ahead 1-0. But truth is that Barcelona's goalless record has been against other teams in a league where only Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid, and marginally Valencia and Sevilla, are quality sides. Truth is that Barcelona was facing quality opposition for the first time.
In the Champions League another quality side, Paris St. Germain, had already exposed the Catalonians serious defensive deficiencies. Today Real Madrid exposed them as well, and could have made the Catalonians look ridiculous if they had been more cynical. That said, when getting into the match Real Madrid was splendid: disciplined and quick on the counterattack, and with players working hard for the team (something that has often been missing in the club). Luka Modric and Toni Kroos were both fantastic in midfield, while Marcelo and Isco were a constant threat on the left side. And then the trio of Ronaldo, James and Benzema far out-shined the tired-looking trio of Messi, Suarez and Neymar. Granted, Neymar scored and Suarez is still to understand his new teammates, but more worrying for Barcelona is the lack of depth, which is particularly acute in defense: Javier Mascherano continues to play in a position that is not his, while Pique lacks the quality to play at this level without Carles Puyol next to him. Tonight, he proved again that he is a player that can not be called more than mediocre, and he could have cost Barcelona much more than the one penalty that he gave away.
This will be a great season for Real Madrid, who were also impressive in the Champions League last week against Liverpool. Barcelona on the other hand, will have it harder and harder as they face will face quality teams.

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