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Notes from El Clasico v3

April 21, 2011

During this short period of time, we are able to watch not just one, but four confrontations between two of the best club sides in the world, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. One is famed for its tiki-taka, while the other one has Jose Mourinho overseeing an expensively built squad of world footballers. I still class the first el Clasico as one of the matches of the season, when Barcelona trumped Real Madrid 5-0. In that match Mourinho was downgraded from Special One to Ordinary One. But now with four el Clasicos, Mourinho wants that Special One title back.

The first one of the series ended in a 1-1 draw. Mourinho went all defensive and Real Madrid only woke up after they were 1 goal and 1 man down. A soft penalty won by Marcelo was converted by Cristiano Ronaldo to equal Messi’s penalty earlier. With that results, Barcelona pretty much bagged the title.

Last night it was the second confrontation. Here are some notes from the Copa del Rey final between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid:

  • Tactically Mourinho found the right way to play against Barcelona. Park a bus. A big bus. The use of 3 central defensive midfielders (one of them a defender by trade) in front of a flat four to squeeze space. Two attacking wingers whose first job is to press whenever Barca have the ball, to force them to the middle where 3 DMs are waiting. Then kick the ball forward and hope Cristiano Ronaldo can do something with it.
  • I respect Pep for starting with Pinto. He’s a good goalie but nowhere near Valdes, especially when it comes to distributing and having the ball on his feet. Pinto played the all the games in the Cup and Pep rewards him by playing him in the final. I’m not sure if Valdes would have saved Ronaldo’s header anyway.
  • How much does Barca miss Puyol? Mascherano is much better as last man than Busquets is, because that way Mascherano is not involved in the build-up. But still not as good as Puyol.
  • How do the strikers at Real Madrid feel (Higuain, Benzema, Adebayor)? All very good strikers, none of them started in this big match.
  • Adriano is Barca’s weak point. Bad on the ball. Barca really miss Abidal.
  • On the blogosphere it has been mentioned that Barca miss a good striker, especially in the latter stages when Pique was pushed up front. But was is the use of paying a good striker to play a handful of times during one season. They don’t need somebody like Eto’o or Ibra as a sub, they can manage well with Pique as an injury time striker. This time he didn’t score though.
  • Pedro’s goal was correctly ruled offside.
  • What does Alfredo di Stefano have to say about this win?
  • Mourinho wins trophies regardless how his team plays.
  • Iker Casillas is a saint. If it went to penalties, Real Madrid would have definitely won with him in goal.

Now roll on the two Champions League matches!

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