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Futbol Club Barcelona. Have they met their match?


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Barcelona are unquestionably one of the greatest footballing sides, ever. It’s so fascinating to see them dominating games in such a manner, that even the opposition at times just stands to admire their excellence. Their style of play, which is drilled in to the brains of the La Masia cadets at a young age, is at times unplayable. No team is capable of portraying themselves on the field, like how the modern Barca do, and virtually every opponent is brushed aside. It’s no surprise they have achieved so much in the last 6 years, beating great sides along their way in retaining the prestigious Champions League in 2006 and 2009 respectively.

Of course, Barcelona are not the only great Spanish side, their fiercest rivals Real Madrid deserve a mention with their grand history. At the start of the 2009/10 season, not for the first time, Madrid signed the best talent throughout the world available, firstly Kaka joined the Los Blancos, and a week later, Cristiano Ronaldo joined in a record breaking, 80 million pound deal which was enough to take the superstar over to Madrid. Despite racking up a record breaking 96 points, Madrid still found themselves 3 points behind Barcelona at the top of the table. So Madrid had the talent, so what was missing?

Enter the ‘Special One’. After leading Inter to a treble, which included the Champions League, Jose Mourino felt it was time to move on to a new challenge, and joined up with a club who is starved of European success. Although Madrid still spent a fair bit in the market, it looked as though the ‘Galactico’s’ era was over, as Angel Di Maria, Sami Khedira and Mesut Ozil were brought in to the club. While being talented players, it was certainly a step down from the signing’s of the Likes of Kaka and Ronaldo. Already we were seeing a different approach from Real Madrid.

The much awaited El Clasico, the first of many in this season took place on the Novemeber 30th 2010, and like many of Barcelona’s opponents, Real Madrid were discombobulated by Barcelona, the Catalan giants trounced ‘The Whites’ by 5 goals to nil, hardly a result Mourinho and co were expecting.

Apart from a few major upsets, a team to beat Barcelona in the last few years has become a rare commodity. Even more uncommon is that you will hardly ever see a team have more possession than Barcelona. Alex Ferguson, after his side’s defeat at the hands of Barcelona in 2009 went on to say after the match ‘Xavi and Iniesta are capable of holding on to the ball all night’.

Every season we are guaranteed atleast two El Clasico’s every season, and five months after their mauling in the Nou Camp, Madrid faced Barcelona for the second time in the league. When you look at the team sheets from the matches, there’s not much of a difference in the two lineups, yet a much different scoreline this time. 1-1 the match finished, in a fairly even game. Four days later, and the two Spanish giants met for the third time in one season, this time in the Copa del Rey final. Again, similar lineups, again Barcelona unexpectedly dominated in possession, yet it was a much different scoreline. Albeit it took Madrid extra time, they managed to come out on top in a 1-0 win against the mighty Barcelona.

So how exactly did Madrid manage to beat Barcelona, only a few months after they were embarrassed by the same side?

Step in three ‘Defensive Midfielders’. Pepe, primarily being a centre half, was used in midfield, his place was then taken up by Sergio Ramos, and Alvaro Arbeloa came in at right back. The brilliant Portugese, along with Khedira and Alonso ran tirelessly throughout the whole of the match, and didn’t give Xavi and Iniesta time on the ball which they are so much used to. It may sound something very simple, but we all know a car is nothing without its engine. The standout player from the Copa Del Ray tie has to be the immaculate Portugese. No not Ronaldo, but Pepe.

The dynamic defender/midfielder was vital in destroying Barca’s play, and providing support to his fellow country man Ronaldo. Along with his two partners in crime(Khedira and Alonso) the triplet gave their all in not giving the Barca’s attackers opportunities to break the Madrid defence, and more importantly deprived Xavi and Iniesta time on the ball. The brilliant Ronaldo was used a lone striker up front as Di Maria and Ozil played of him.

Barcelona still dominated in possession, but the difference was because of the three defensive midfielder’s deployed by Mourinho. The Barcelona midfield had less time to play their inch perfect passes near the opposition’s penalty area. Barcelona did however have chances to take the lead, and they also had a brilliant goal disallowed, albeit correctly, Pedro was marginally off side. Real Madrid played fantastically on the counter, Di Maria and Ozil always prepared to attack the Barca defence from the wide positions, and Marcelo also got forward at every opportunity given.

On to the winning goal then, unsurprisingly coming from a lightning quick counter attack by Real Madrid. Iniesta and Messi caught in possession as a result of Alonso and Khedira biting in to the tackles, the ball gets played out wide to Marcelo who interchanges passes with Di Maria, and the Argentine swings the ball in first time, aplomb on Ronaldo’s head, and the striker redirects the ball in to the far corner of the net. All in the space of 11 seconds.

What Barcelona really missed was a focal point up front. Someone to hold the ball up to bring others in to play. As much as Villa is a world class striker, he does not posses the physical prowess to hold of defender’s and brig other’s in to play. In the closing stages, Barcelona threw Pique forward to compete in the penalty area, but it was too late. Madrid had the luxury of taking of Ozil, and replacing him Adebayor, who did just what Villa was not able to do.

It was a pretty even game, Madrid dominating the first half, and Barca doing the same in the second period. It was however a brilliant performance by the Madrid team, but lets not forget the mastermind, the ‘Phenomenon’ behind this win, Jose Mourinho. Without him, this win was not possible.

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Casillas celebrating a rare victory over their counterparts.

Real Madrid will certainly savour this victory, but they know that a double header awaits them against their biggest rival in the Champions League semi finals. Finally Madrid have a system with which they are able to compete against Barcelona, and more importantly know they can beat them. It just gives us all another reason to watch the semi finals, and for the first time in a long time, we can go in to a game and assure ourselves that Barcelona’s opponents have the artillery required to beat the Catalan giants.

Is it too early to say Barcelona have met their match?

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Re: Futbol Club Barcelona. Have they met their match?

They only won because Madrid were told to hurt, kick and push Barcelona and argue with the ref. Barcelona were and still are the better team its just that Casillas saved Madrid several times. Even with 3 defensive midfielder's it does not stop Barca from dominating the game, Madrid got a lucky break and scored.

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Guest JackWWFC

Re: Futbol Club Barcelona. Have they met their match?

No, they havn't.

Wolves beat Man U.

Wolves beat Chelsea.

Doesn't mean they are better then them.

Southend beat Man U.

Northampton beat Liverpool.

So on...

Pure luck last night.

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Re: Futbol Club Barcelona. Have they met their match?

They only won because Madrid were told to hurt' date=' kick and push Barcelona and argue with the ref. [/quote']

So what if they did? They still ended up winning the game didn't they? There is no definitive way to play the game either, you can play however you like. And on the point about complaining to the ref, Barcelona weren't exactly angels in the match either.

Barcelona were and still are the better team its just that Casillas saved Madrid several times.

It was a very tight game indeed. Barca only woke up second half' date=' and if Casillas saved Madrid, then how many times did Alves save Barca?

Even with 3 defensive midfielder's it does not stop Barca from dominating the game,

It actually pretty much did to an extent. Did you even watch the game?!

Madrid got a lucky break and scored.

What a ludicrous statement to make. Again, i ask you, did you watch the game? You either are lying to us, or you just don't understand football. They threatened throughout the whole of the match on the counter, i won't go in to much detail as i've already mentioned it in my article.

Also i'm not saying that Madrid is better than Barca, all i'm saying is that Madrid have improved massively, and are much more of a challenge for Barca.

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Guest JackWWFC

Re: Futbol Club Barcelona. Have they met their match?

So what if they did? They still ended up winning the game didn't they? There is no definitive way to play the game either' date=' you can play however you like. And on the point about complaining to the ref, Barcelona weren't exactly angels in the match either.

It was a very tight game indeed. Barca only woke up second half, and if Casillas saved Madrid, then how many times did Alves save Barca?

It actually pretty much did to an extent. Did you even watch the game?!

What a ludicrous statement to make. Again, i ask you, did you watch the game? You either are lying to us, or you just don't understand football. They threatened throughout the whole of the match on the counter, i won't go in to much detail as i've already mentioned it in my article.

Also i'm not saying that Madrid is better than Barca, all i'm saying is that Madrid have improved massively, and are much more of a challenge for Barca.[/quote']

8 points behind in the league. B)

Nice point! :rolleyes:

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Re: Futbol Club Barcelona. Have they met their match?

"Certainly, Mourinho is not beyond parking the bus. We saw that last year in the second leg of the CL semi-final between Inter and Barca. Inter sat right back and invited Barca to come at them. Not only did Inter not compete for the ball, they actually didn't want it, actively booting it back upfield to Barca whenever it came their way.

But this is not what Real did this week, and absolutely not in the Cup final. Here, they did compete for the ball, doing their level best to deny Barca the time and space they desire. They took the fight to Barca in the midfield and they were largely successful. Nothing wrong with that. It is not anti-football. It is not ugly.

If we listen to the arrogant swots who fawn over Barca, not only are they the greatest team ever to play this or any other sport, but they (and only they) play beautiful football, the way football was meant to be played. What rubbish. And now, by extension, anyone who plays the game differently is not merely inferior (even if they actually win) but actually "anti-football". Heretics, if you will. What utter tosh.

I take no particular joy in watching Real win, but I do hope they crack on with the job and knock Barca out of the CL. Arsenal only barely missed out on doing that in the last round, and I can't help feeling Real are better equipped for the task than Wenger's mob. "

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Re: Futbol Club Barcelona. Have they met their match?

First Leg of the Champions League Semi Final's kicked off, and it was a pretty frantic start. Barcelona were however hampered with the loss of one of their stars in Andres Iniesta, his replacement was Keita.

Not many footballing talking points in the first half, both keepers were relatively kept quiet, and unfortunately the footballing side was shadowed by a couple of former La Masia cadets thinking they're in play school. Busquets and Pedro the culprits, both overreacting to minor interchanges with Madrid players. Most notably we saw Busquets on the camera after he had 'collapsed' to the ground following a challenge on Marcelo, the young Spanish midfielder was embarrassed by his theatrics so much, that he couldn't look straight at the camera. Madrid however were in no way the innocent part, just as guilty in the first half with Di Maria leading the way in going down at every opportunity. Even more embarrassing to watch, was the players acting like infants and chasing after the referee after every minor incident, clearly the players did not heed the words of Javier Mascherano before the game, the Barcelona midfielder called for the players to 'let the football do the talking', he also went on to say in the Press Conference 'that is the Barcelona way'. Yes it may be in the past Mascherano, but we certainly didn't see Barcelona let the football do the talking in the first half.

The two teams kept up the confrontations whilst heading down the tunnel, and somehow reserve goalkeeper Pinto, who was not even playing, found himself receiving a red card during the me-lee.

Only notable chance in the first half took place in the 46th minute, Ronaldo hitting a swerving shot from 25 yards, which deflected off the goalkeeper in to the patch off Ozil, who's weak follow up was saved Valdes, however the save did not matter, as Ozil was correctly judged offside.

In terms of football, the second half wasn't much better either, again we saw the childish behavior, the constant bickering between the two sets of players, and again, we saw players overreacting, and although Pepe went in recklessly to challenge Alves, it was not worthy of a red card.

As expected, Mourinho was livid on the touchline, and sarcastically winked at the officials, suggesting it was all fixed, along with Pepe, even Mourinho was sent off.

So with Pepe leaving the field, he also took along with him Madrid's chances of winning the game, and as Madrid opened up, substitute Ibrahim Afellay skimmed Marcelo and whipped a cross in to the box, for no other than Lionel Messi to divert the ball in to the bottom corner. Crucial away goal for Barca.

The rest of the match was just a case for Madrid to keep the damage minimal, not to concede another, little did they know that Messi would come up with the goods again, this time an absolute piece of art, going past numerous Madrid players, the diminutive Argentine somehow managed to squeezed his right footed shot in to the bottom corner. 2-0 Barca.

I've told very Messi fan i've known in the past that Cristiano Ronaldo is the better player, but after seeing that goal, even i will know say that Messi is the best player in the world. In a match where you don't even have enough time to receive a pass, to go past three Madrid players, like they were just statues, and then place the ball in to the back of the net-with his weaker foot, he truly has shown everyone, that he is the best player in the world.

To rub salt in to the wounds, for all the millions Madrid spend on their players, Barcelona brought on 18 year old striker Sergi Roberto in the dying minutes, another player who has come through the Barcelona ranks.

Arguably the Pepe sending off aided Barca's win, and again, Madrid end a game against Barcelona, without 10 men.

The match was at time scruffy, it was Messi, at time childish, but for all what happened throughout the match, its the scoreline in the end that matters, and at the half way stage in this fascinating encounter, and in a match where a coach, a player, and a goalkeeper (who was not even part of the first 11) were sent off, Barcelona have one foot in the final.

As for Madrid, they still have a lot more work to do after this showing, and can start off by ending a game with 11 men.

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  • 1 month later...

Re: Futbol Club Barcelona. Have they met their match?

I'll stick by it, and Real(inc Mourinho) are the closest football has to offer to get one over Barca, we saw in Mourinho's first game against Barca, he tried to play football against them, and he failed miserably. After that game though, he learnt his lesson, and the games after were much more competetive.

Barca will again be favourites for the champions league next season, and only Madrid again will be able to stop them, like this season.

When you look at the united side today on the pitch, you can see how far behind they are to Real, they just couldn't keep up with Barca, and whilst they may be Britain's finest, its quite clear they have a long way to go to be the worlds finest.

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