El Clasico: What It Means

Posted: December 1, 2010 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Taken from our discussion at Perpetual Post.

By Mike Cummings and Kiyan Sobhani

MIKE CUMMINGS: So Barcelona beat Real Madrid 5-0 on Monday, and footie commentators around the world over are falling over themselves to anoint Barca The Best of All Time. The Spoiler went for the phrase “looked like one of the truly great football teams,” and included a couple of current players in the club’s all-time best squad. Meanwhile Tom Adams claimed Barca currently has three all-time greats on its squad (though that includes only one of the two The Spoiler plumped for), and the Spanish press hailed a historic win for the “Azulgrana.” Me? For once I’ll side with Jose Mourinho: We will let time judge what this team has done.

Here’s what Barcelona has done so far this season: Taken 34 out of 39 possible points in La Liga, topping the table after 13 matches; beaten its biggest rival 5-0; and advanced out of a weak Champions League Group D. On current form, this team is more than capable of winning every competition it’s currently in. In fact, they’re probably the favorites to win every competition they’re currently in. But long seasons have a way of spoiling even the great teams’ best-laid plans.

For perspective, let’s look to American college football. Back in early October, the University of Alabama routed Florida 31-6 in a showdown between the last two national champions. Here’s what ESPN.com’s Pat Forde wrote about the game afterwards.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — For the past 25 months, the prevailing theme in the Southeastern Conference has been Alabama and Florida on one level and everyone else down below.

After the Beatdown in T-Town, the upper echelon has been cut in half. It’s Alabama alone and everyone else down below.

This is a one-team league at the top.

In fact, this is a one-team nation.

With their 31-6 thumping of Florida, the Crimson Tide sent the following message around the South and around the country: When we’re on our game, nobody can hang with us.

Not yet two months later, Florida is 7-5, Alabama is 9-3, and the Crimson Tide’s biggest rival, Auburn, is one win away from playing in this year’s national championship. And to get into that position, Auburn had to beat Alabama when Alabama was on its game — at least for one half.

Here’s the point: After Monday night, Barcelona looks like it could be the best team in Europe and maybe even among the best teams of all time. But back in October, Alabama looked like the best college football team in America. Between now and the end of the club soccer season, Barcelona could either turn out to be the best of all time, a big-time flop, or anything in between.

The Champions League runs until May, La Liga runs until June, and history runs forever. For now, Barcelona is the best team in Spain. But let’s hold off on calling them the best of all time.

KIYAN SOBHANI: As a Madridista, you can imagine how I felt in the bar on Monday – I could only sit there while Barca fans all around me enjoyed one of the most memorable nights in their club’s history.

Thanks to my father, I’ve been a Madridista since I was born. Losing to your biggest rivals is never a joyous occasion, but this 5-0 battering will have a lasting effect on myself, and millions of other Madrid fans all around the World. What we can only hope though, is that the players won’t suffer this same kind of psychological blow. Madrid still have to play Valencia – without Ramos and Carvalho who are suspended – and Sevilla, so it’s a horrible time to have low morale. What’s more worrying, is that they’ll have to do this after learning the horrible news that Gonzalo Higuain will be out for at least 2 months. Thankfully, Mourinho is a psychologist. So as much as I didn’t agree with his tactics (I thought Pellegrini’s tactics in Camp Nou last year of pressuring  Barca high and not letting them pass the ball around was exemplary), I loved his post-game comments:

“I hope this game does not affect us psychologically. I have spoken to the players and told them the title is not gone. We can’t leave here crying. I left here defeated at the start of last season with Inter Milan and then at the end of the season we were playing in the Champions League final [having knocked out Barcelona], while they had to watch it on television.”

So although Mike makes great points about it being far from over, he forgot another important statistic: Inter lost last year to Barca in the Camp Nou in similar fashion. They didn’t let in 5 goals, but they did however touch the ball only a few times and really got dismantled. But we all know who knocked out Barca and went on to lift the Champions League trophy at the Bernabeu. At that point, no one remembered that earlier loss in the Camp Nou.

From a philosophical perspective, there are so many ways to look at this result. This Madrid team is quite new. They literally start from scratch every year with a new coach; while this Barca team has been playing together for years, and with a system that’s been implemented equally as long. Also, the Real Madrid players were just rattled. Gone are the days of Hierro, Roberto Carlos, and Raul – experienced players who know what it takes to play in the most imporant fixture in football. The new era of players from abroad such as Ozil, Di Maria, and Khedira were thrown into the hostile Camp Nou for the first time – and it showed.

Regarding the argument of whether Barca’s team is the best ever or not really depends on the outcome of the season. The way they ravaged Madrid really magnifies this argument as Madrid were enjoying a record-breaking season. So this wasn’t just ‘any’ team that Barca dismantled.

But the fact of the matter is that we’re not even half-way through the season and Madrid is still 2nd place in La Liga, and fighting strong in all competitions. There is a more than good chance that these two teams will end up facing each other in the knockout rounds of the CL. There is also a more than good chance that Mourinho and co. have learned from their mistakes in the 1st Clasico.

However way you want to look at it, I just do no not see a way that this will happen again to a team managed by Mourinho that has an abundant amount of talent and pride.

Comments
  1. Amir says:

    I wouldn’t want to sound hard on you, Cummings but seriously, what do you have to say about this stance?

    “Barcelona could either turn out to be the best of all time, a big-time flop, or anything in between.”

    Seriously???!! Isn’t this the same team that won the Euro of 08 AND the WC of 2010???? Isn’t this the same team that won 6 trophies in one year, in which YOUR favorite team has never done before (I had to say that cos I sense Bias in your article). Isn’t this the same team that thrashed the German champions Bayern 4-0? Isn’t this the one who outplayed Manchester United in the UCL Final? Isn’t this the one team where everyone had to park the bus and wait at their halfway line to counter attack just to score a goal hoping Barca doesn’t score another on them to win? Isn’t this the same team that killed Arsenal at the Emirates in the first 20 minutes? And the return leg? How did that turn out? Isn’t this the team which the Netherlands had to play rugby with? What do you have to say about that?

    And being American doesn’t help you much either cos that would translate to you being one of these three:

    1. A Premface a.k.a EPL Lover which automatically makes you a Barca hater since Barca had recent success against EPL teams.

    2. A Madridista who is butthurt

    3.A headless chicken who came from the world’s most ignorant country (Hey! Didn’t your media said football should be called “soccer” and weren’t you guys the one who hated soccer so much?) which is known to know nothing about F-O-O-T-B-A-L-L.

    When you write for a football column, try to sound professional. What I mean by professional is not let personal feelings interfere with your articles. What I mean by personal feelings is obviously bias-ism.

  2. Don says:

    gr8 article..a win for madrid would have made their fans happy for a short time..this lot will make them happy a lot more in the long run..mou got what he wanted for this game..i think he actually through it..he cant admit it though bcoz he will get in trouble..future results between the two will vindicate me..cant beat mou’s team by this margin, unless…

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