Barca vs Real: Top tier clash

Published: April 19, 2011
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Barcelona's midfielder Andres Iniesta (L) vies with Real Madrid's Brazilian defender Marcelo (R) during "El Clasico" Spanish League football match Real Madrid against Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, on April 16, 2011. PHOTO: AFP

Barcelona's soccer players celebrate after scoring during  El clasico  Spanish League football match Real Madrid against Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, on April 16, 2011. PHOTO: AFP Barcelona's midfielder Andres Iniesta (L) vies with Real Madrid's Brazilian defender Marcelo (R) during "El Clasico" Spanish League football match Real Madrid against Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, on April 16, 2011. PHOTO: AFP Real Madrid's Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo (L)  vies with Barcelona's midfielder Andres Iniesta for the ball during the 'El Clasico' Spanish League football match Real Madrid against Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, on April 16, 2011. PHOTO: AFP Barcelona's Brazilian defender Dani Alves (C) vies with Real Madrid's Argentinian midfielder Angel di Maria (L) and Real Madrid's Portuguese defender Ricardo Alberto Carvalho (L) during " El Clasico" Spanish League football match Real Madrid against Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, on April 16, 2011. PHOTO: AFP Marcelo (L) fights for the ball with Barcelona's Lionel Messi at Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid PHOTO: AFP Real Madrid's French forward Karim Benzema (L) vies with Barcelona's midfielder Sergio Busquets (R) during  El clasico  Spanish League football match Real Madrid against Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, on April 16, 2011. PHOTO: AFP Barcelona's midfielder Xavi Hernandez (C)  vies for the ball with Real Madrid's Portuguese defender Pepe during the 'El Clasico' Spanish League football match Real Madrid against Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, on April 16, 2011. PHOTO: AFP

Match-ups between Barcelona and Real Madrid have traditionally elicited more emotional involvement from fans of both these football giants, than any other club fixture has ever been able to do.

It is perhaps because of the ‘political enmity’, if that phrase can be used, between the Catalans and the Castilians. Whatever other reasons exist for the charged atmosphere regarding the ‘El Clasico,’ just the quality of football is enough to leave at least the neutrals licking their lips.

This season however, the fixture between Real and Barca is to be played five times as the two sides meet in the final of the Copa Del Ray and twice in the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League, apart from their two El Clasico meetings, fixtures that will certainly decide how their respective seasons shape up.

The La Liga game at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on Saturday night presented the vivid contrast that exists between the two sides’ football philosophies, and also gave a good trailer of what to expect in the upcoming three matches between the two clubs.

While Barcelona showed that they still have the tenacity to win every football match they play, even though the league trophy is, for all intents and purposes, in their bag, Real Madrid were certainly found wanting on a night when an assertive performance would have sent out a strong signal to Pep Guardiola and the players for what to expect in the upcoming games.

Even though, Barcelona enjoyed almost 70 per cent of the possession, and that too on Real Madrid’s home ground, it was when they were on the ball that Madrid disappointed. Frankly speaking even under “the special one” Jose Mourinho, they still look like an assortment of highly talented individuals rather than a team, which is exactly the opposite of what Barcelona FC is all about.

Barca’s edge

Having seen Barcelona play with the poise and grace they exhibited yesterday, it is hard to not go all dew-eyed over them. With two of the best midfielders in the world, Xavi and Iniesta, manning their midfield and, with the magician of a footballer Lionel Messi weaving in and out of players, driving into the most minute of spaces with the sure-footedness of a ballet dancer, is truly a sight to behold. The only weak link in their attack, which is supplemented by their marauding full backs, Adriano and Dani Alves, was David Villa who, although timed his runs beautifully, just did not seem to be able to get his first touch right. Their back four that has Gerrard Pique and the inimitable Puyol at its heart, apart from the two full-backs, is rather assured-looking than Real’s defensive line-up.

Real’s problem

The heart of Real Madrid’s Galacticos’ problems seems to lie in the fact that each and every individual appears to be looking to show the world that he is the best player in the world, rather than just being proud to wear Real’s shirt and ensuring that the team comes out on top after 90 minutes on the pitch. To mould them into a working machine with the collection of huge egos in the dressing room, like that of Ronaldo, Higuain and to a certain extent even Kaka, all of whom were involved in skirmishes on and off the field, perhaps makes Mourinho’s job that much more difficult. But then, that is what he is paid the huge bucks for.

For Barcelona then, all is well in the league, and the way the team is playing at the moment they would not be losing too much sleep over the prospect of facing Real thrice again in the Cup competitions. On the other hand Mourinho needs to make his team gel together quickly, and also find a reliable player to play up front if he insists on playing Ronaldo out wide or in the hole, to have any chance of even coming near Barcelona’s level of performance.

Saad Hassan Khan

Saad Hassan Khan

A final year electronic engineering student at the Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Engineering Sciences and Technology. His interests lie in sports, reading and writing.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.