Straight Shootin' LJA's El Clasico Thoughts
On this chilly Tuesday afternoon I find myself watching the El Clasico repeat (we were broadcasting Pitch Talk Live so I couldn’t watch the match live) with baited breath and as I write this i'm seeing Real Madrid being taught a footballing lesson. In a game with apparently 400 million viewers world wide Real Madrid certainly stood on ceremony and were extremely sluggish in the opening exchanges with Barcelona bossing the ball. The opening goal of this match some would say was lucky, but I would oppose that view because if Iniesta hadn't tried to play the slide rule ball to Xavi, there wouldn't have been anything for Xavi to run onto, thus resulting in no reason for the Madrid centre back to commit himself, so in my view Barca forced their luck for 1-0 rather than relying on it.
The second goal was beautiful football, I lost count of the amount of passes and ole's I heard through my Xbox 360 in the run up to Pedro's goal but it was 15+ I assure you, and I got up out of my seat and was applauding the goal accompanied by the words 'that was amazing'. In the 1st half hour Barca had 72% of the possession, a 2-0 lead and were in firm control and then things kicked off a bit with Cristiano Ronaldo shoving Pep Guardiola because Guardiola held the ball for a couple of seconds, which Mr Ronaldo must have construed as time wasting. That was the 1st time in the game Ronaldo had been involved, albeit for the wrong reasons. Lionel Messi for the whole 1st half had pretty much been a bit part player but Barca were so dominant he didn't need to be anything more than that. In a match with the last 2 ballon d'or winners playing in it, it actually wasn't really about either man as both were kept quiet for large parts of the match. For me, Real Madrid have never been the best at the back, but in the 1st half Real were trying to play the offside trap on numerous occasions and were doing a horrible job of it, but as the 1st half wore on they started to get back into the game. Half time came after a bit of madness with Messi and a Carvalho elbow (more accurately a Carvalho shoulder) and a 2-0 scorline in Barcelona’s favour.
Now onto the second half. Lassana Diarra was brought on in place of Mesut Ozil and it seemed like damage limitation more than anything, but Real Madrid needed to do something as they had been chasing shadows for the first 45 minutes. The second half started as the 1st half did with Barca causing Real Madrid untold problems and only a last second intervention stopped Barca going 3-0 up within the 1st 2 minutes of the half. Messi did have a goal disallowed as he tried to have more of an impact on the game, but that questionably disallowed goal was a harbinger of things to come as Real kept squandering possession and the men in white shirts looked like they were regressing into shells rather than emerging as potential title winners, but as we know only too well in the English Premier League, a title isn't won in 1 game, its won over 38.
'The special one is a beaten one at the moment' - great quote from the Sky Sports commentary team for this game and without ruining the end of this great football tale, how prophetic was that statement? Another typical beautiful Barcelona goal was finished off clinically by David Villa and once again the offside trap and a lack of pressing cost Real again and Casillias was left with nothing else to do but to remonstrate with the referee, thus earning himself a place in the referee's notebook, 54 minutes gone and it's 3-0 Barca. The 57th minute came and as Lassana Diarra was robbed of possession you could sense another Barca counter attack, and they didn't fail to deliver. David Villa’s movement and finish was fantastic but Lionel Messi's through ball, which was far from easy (the easy ball was to go one more wide to the right) was inch perfect and Madrid went 4-0 down and looked shambolic at the back, the phrase 'hot knife through butter' came to mind at this point. Cristiano Ronaldo and Iker Casillias had the facial expressions of men who didn't have a clue what was happening around them, with Ronaldo looking behind him and Iker looking to the heavens. Real Madrid were unbeaten in 36 matches going into this match but they looked like they hadn't won any in 36 during this match and without overhyping, this match was more lop sided than a see saw with a 20 stone guy at 1 end and a 2 year old on the other.
64 minutes gone and Sergio Busquets underlined what Barca were trying to do to Real...humiliate them, and Busquets effort from the halfway line was cheeky at best, but at 4-0 up you can afford to be cheeky. The party tricks we coming out on 68 minutes and you couldn't blame Barca for it, if you can compound the misery of your bitter rivals, then I say, do it, and Carvalho was fortunate that the game had been assigned a merciful referee after what looked like a blatant handball which denied a legitimate goal scoring opportunity.
To my mind, playing the offside trap against a team like Barcelona is like playing a high line against Brazil (see Ghana in the 2006 world cup), it's not a smart move as you will be put to the sword, and as the Barca fans chanted 'your getting sacked in the morning' to Jose Mourinho, which may not be far from the truth considering I call Real Madrid the revolving door of football management, in the last 3/4 years they've changed managers more than Pompey have changed owners and Portsmouth have been passed around more than chlamydia in recent times (as I’ve said on the Pitch Talk Live show on Mondays gone by). Bojan came on to replace David Villa on 76 minutes and Mr Villa received a standing ovation. Bojan was definitely looking to replicate David Villa's brilliant brace by having to chances in quick succession, 1 of which was squandered by the 'touch of a rapist' and the other denied by Casillias.
Real Madrid tried to catch up in this match but in all honesty they never got started and Barca were intent on keeping a clean sheet with their ultimate warrior look-a-like Carles Puyol flinging in challenges as per usual. A 5th goal from Jeffren compounded Real's misery and their first real test of the season was failed and failed abysmally as Barca showed Real Madrid how difficult it will be to usurp them from their throne. The end of the game was marred with a small melee at the end and Sergio Ramos was a deserved recipient of a red card (for a 2nd bookable offence) after a malicious hack at Lionel Messi and pushing Puyol in his face (I’m surprised Puyol didn’t release the warrior within and power slam him as opposed to falling to the ground). Mourinho and Real Madrid were made to look like schoolboy footballers in terms of style, guile, passing & movement, and in closing, El Clasico for me, lived up to the great white light hype provided by Sky Sports in their build up, but Real Madrid didn't and they were left staring into the blinding light of Barcelona's shine as they look up at brilliant Barca above in the table.
Barcelona 5-0 Real Madrid (29-11-2010)
Xavi 10’ Pedro 18’ Villa 55’, 58’
I'm The Straight Shootin' One, And thats my opinion!!!
Liam Angell aka Straight Shootin' LJA