Real(ly) Found Out

by admin

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

This El Clasico brought with it an added tinge of excitement for a whole host of reasons. Real’s impressive recent record of 19 matches unbeaten would have signalled the mouth watering prospect of an edgy fixture that could go either way. Added to that, it was a first for David Villa, and a host of Real stars such as Mesut Ozil, Sami Khedira and Angel Di Maria. Not to mention the duel of the two best players on the planet, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. That would be a riveting encounter and potentially fascinating debate worth the admission just on its own…

As it turned out, it didn’t produce the vintage epic that these matches have so often resulted in over the years. The real outcome was that Real (and Jose Mourinho) were found out badly when it came to the acid test. Their Champions League and La Liga aspirations look to be in tatters given their failure to match up to Barca, who are now the real benchmarkers in World Football. The 5-0 pummelling also resulted in the unlikely event of Jose Mourinho and Ronaldo retreating with their tails between their legs. Its not a very vivid image to witness, but it certainly came to fruition tonight. If you’re not a fan of both, it was a moment to savour.

Barca tonight proved that keeping a focus and loyalty to playing the beautiful game as it should be, free flowing, passing and total football, will always triumph any other less aesthetic and more brutish brand of the game. Mourinho’s bully boy tactics have been remarkably effective in securing him copious amounts of silverware, legendary status and undoubted success everywhere he has gone. But it hasn’t guaranteed him utter supremacy. I couldn’t help but recall Roman Abramovich’s desire to ditch him for someone who could bring a more pleasing style of football to Stamford Bridge. For tonight, Mourinho’s achilles heel (the guy doesn’t have much flaws in fairness) was laid bare, in coming up against the new maestro and architect of the beautiful and intelligent brand of football, Joseph Guardiola. Guardiola has implanted his own imaginative brand of the game upon his players, and let them flourish and run free. Mourinho’s lack of imagination and creativity on the other hand, was only exposed when he came up against his rival, who is quickly proving to be an exceptional manager. In a sense, tonight’s face off between the two was like Salieri’s futile and perpetual inability to match the natural genius of Mozart in the film Amadeus…

Its hardly a coincidence that Barcelona and Spain are exquisitely exhibiting the exact same brand of possession based one touch football that no one else can match. Of course, both teams have the same bulwark of players… However, Guardiola seems to have drilled in a more refined edge to the Barcelona style, with the passing more rapid, a higher rate of one touch passes, even more time on the ball, and as crucially exhibited tonight, a consistently killer final ball. Added to this, Barca can boast Messi, someone Spain don’t even have. He was imperious tonight, with the ball glued to his foot every tome, and using his low centre of gravity to torment the Real defenders. His understanding with Villa was razor sharp, with the excitement in the air every time they broke forward in unison was palpable. Ronaldo was shown up, and apart from a bustling first five minutes, was anonymous compared to his Argentinian rival. His only consolation should be that his team mates Ozil and Di Maria were even more lack lustre. Real’s lack of penetration was glaring compared to Barca’s masterful passing, with no ideas, hopeful long crosses and a difficulty in getting out of their own half.

It thereby reflected the bereft Mourinho imagination in comparison to what Guardiola’s almost artistic approach can produce. It also showed that Guardiola’s belief in adding incrementally to what he had meticulously created has worked wonders, with Villa’s addition being the cherry on an already flawless cake, keeping the unique Barca understanding perfectly intact throughout the team. Real’s policy of buying in multiple stars every season was regressive in comparison, as there was no cohesion or gelling in a match which was their biggest test of the season to date, and they really needed to perform.

Perhaps things will be different at the Bernabeu, but it will only be if Real get a lot of work done, and become more imaginative. Mourinho better start racking his brains, because for now, Guardiola, with his greater footballing palate, can be quietly confident that he ensured his edge and mastery in the battle of El Clasico.

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