Although many neutrals might not have enjoyed what was supposed to be the biggest spectacle in World football, I can assure you that Cules and Madridistas around the World were experiencing near heart attacks. For weeks up to the build up to El Clasico, friends had been talking trash to me, emphasizing the point that Barcelona would not only win this game, but absolutely dominate it and predictions like 3-0 were constantly thrown at me. I simply laughed it off. I knew that Barcelona are not the same team they were a year ago, and I also had faith that Madrid would elevate their game. Real Madrid are not Inter Milan. They were not going to bend over pathetically so Barca could.. Well you know.
From the opening kick-off my heart was in my stomach. I was happy with Pellegrini’s starting eleven. I felt the decision to drop Benzema to stick in Marcelo was wise to keep Dani Alves in check. Madrid started off fantastically and had several chances to take the lead. The most notable chance came when Kaka left two defenders for dead, and served it on a platter for Cristiano Ronaldo who missed a criminal chance. But the start was encouraging. The game continued with Madrid having several great chances going astray and most of them due to brilliant individual defending from Carles Puyol and Victor Valdes. Of course, both teams had chances in the second half too, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic came on as a sub to score one of Barca’s few chances. The intentions of this post was not to recap the game itself so much, but to take a look at the long-term implications of this match.
Although Pellegrini’s starting line-ups have been sound and reasonable this season, it’s his decisions after half-time which have been highly questionable. I won’t touch on his past decisions, but today there were some choices that did not make much sense. Marcelo has been playing fantastic ever since Pellegrini rightfully converted him to a left winger. But today he was our weakest link. Instead of taking off Arbeloa (who played well on the defensive end) for Raul and pushing Marcelo back to LB, I feel that Marcelo should have been subbed for Drenthe who has an incredible amount of pace and flair and would have caused the Barca defence even more problems. We all love the captain and his records, but we already had two strikers with Pipita and Benzema. There was no need for a third.
My other main concern is the lack of quality in the set pieces that are taken. We have players like Pepe, Cristiano and Ramos who are monsters in the air; but Xabi Alonso’s set-pieces have been woeful this season. We haven’t had a consistent set piece specialist since David Beckham and I am worried. Esteban Granero has proven he’s a good dead ball player, but he hasn’t had significant minutes this season.
— But fear not my Madridista brothers. The positives far outweigh the negatives. —
Real Madrid can hold their heads up high. The long-term implications of this game are vast and fruitful. A game that Barca was supposed to dominate, ended up being a game where Real Madrid were the better team and were unlucky to lose. Real Madrid still has the season in their hands. They are finally hitting their stride and will only get better. Although the result of this game could’ve been better, I am positive that as a club, we will gain confidence from this match. Two players really stood out for me today: Kaka and Sergio Ramos. Both players had their best games of the season thus far. Sergio Ramos was a rock at the back, and fantastic going forward. While Kaka tormented the Barca defence on several occasions and looked like he always wanted to be involved. I absolutely can’t wait until Cristiano, Kaka, Benzema, and Higuain hit their stride. It’s going to be orgasmic to watch.
Barcelona have been a shadow of their former selves this season. They’ve only had a couple of truly impressive games, and their last game against Inter really had much to do with Inter’s awful organization and tactics. I don’t like knocking on champions, but the fact that a woeful team like Inter can be champions of Italy is a shame for football. I am confident that Madrid will keep improving and hitting their stride while Barca still have work to do. The league is still in our hands. One more Clasico in the Bernabeu.
iiiiiiii HALA MADRID !!!!!!!