The Most Even Clasico In Years? You're Having A Laugh


This Clasico was built up as the closest in living memory. Two teams repleat with the best players the world has to offer. Contests of the highest order all over the park. Many believed what little difference there was between the two sides, Barcelona widely recognised as being the superior footballing side, the famous Mourinho factor more than made up for it. If anyone knew how to stem Barcas flow, it was Mourinho. Real Madrid came into the match one point ahead of Barca, and on the back of superb wins over Athletic Bilbao in La Liga and Ajax in the Champions League. Up until this afternoon there was very little to choose between the two sides. Then the massacre began.

And there's no two ways about it, whoever witnessed tonights match at the Camp Nou saw a match so ridiculously one-sided, it seems absurd to think the two were regarded as equals beforehand. There was absolutely nothing equal about Real Madrid and Barcelona tonight. Nothing at all. From the very first minute, Barcelona grabbed hold of the ball and through a mixture of breathtaking vision and metronomic precision, refused to give it back. Real Madrid were chasing shadows, and on the few occasions they were afforded possession, contrived to give it straight back to their hosts. It's been the story of the last five Clasicos.

Barcelona won the personal duels all over the park. Iker Casillas was badly at fault for Barcas second goal and looked a pale shadow of the man who has lead Spain to European Championship and World Cup glory. Victor Valdes, on the other hand, repelled everything that came his way. Cristiano Ronaldo appeared in fits and starts, but his contribution to the match was minimal compared to the second-half onslaught offered by Lionel Messi once Pep Guardiola pushed him into a deep-lying central role behind David Villa. The move saw Messi produce two sublime passes which lead to both of Villas goals. Cristiano, as he so often does in the big matches, retreated into his shell once the scoreline got embarrassing. He wasn't the only one.

Pep Guardiola more than won his tactical battle against Jose Mourinho with that positioning of Messi in the seconf half. So many times Mourinho has got it right in the past, but today he was caught short. With Gonzalo Higuain injured, perhaps he should have moved Cristiano Ronaldo into a more central role in attack, allowing him to place an extra man in midfield to close the spaces Barcelona can so easily take advantage of. He made a similar tactical switch at half-time bringing on Lass Diarra, but it was too late. Also, the high line played by the Real Madrid defence was suicidal. I lost count of the number of times Xavi or Iniesta set one of their front three one-on-one with Casillas. Had 'El Guaje' not strayed offside so often, it could well have been more than five.

Looking at both sides, and it's always easy to do in retrospect, this result was on the cards. Perhaps not such a convincing result, but a Barcelona win was always likely. Out of Barcas starting XV, not one was playing their first Clasico. Switch over to those lining up for Real Madrid and Mesut Ozil, Sami Khedira, Angel Di Maria and Ricardo Carvalho were all making their debut in this most historic and suffocating of fixtures. With three of those 24 years old or under, nerves undoubtedly played their part. This Real Madrid team are very good and will only get better, especially with Jose Mourinho at the helm. But right now Barcelona are on another planet, with tonights 5-0 thrashing a timely reminder of the chasmic difference between the two sides.

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