El Clasico & Other Games

There really was only one story in town this week & it wasn't Villarreal winning again. Tim Hill brings us this week's El Clasico ... sorry ... I mean La Liga round up.

Not much happened this weekend - nada.  Alright, alright, Real Sociedad won again, but that was to be expected.  Almeria drew again, same old, same old.  Pah, I’m kidding, of course!

Well, I have a habit of ignoring the Monday night game - it’s just a pain.  However, the most natiocentric of nations pulled its collective head out of its behind and paid attention to the media whirlwind engulfing this week’s Monday night game.

The build up to this El Clasico was so hyped, so beefed up, that it was always going to be a big let down, wasn’t it?  This idea was peddled around twitter so much so that Michael Cox of zonalmarking.net even proposed that it’s bound to be a colossal game because of this.  That’s an anti-anti-climax, that is.

Well, it wasn’t even a contest.  For all Marca’s matchweek bleatings from players/senior-management/Mourinho about how Madrid will stamp their authority on Spanish football once again – it was all tripe (makes a change, huh?).  For all the scoreline told us, the Madrid team in Barcelona may as well have been Alcocorn, not the all powerful Real Madrid. 

Except, it wasn’t all about the score-line – it was all about the manner of victory.  Barcelona were imperious as they were ineffable.  That victory vindicated decades of work producing a band of footballers so disparate in their philosophy to football as their rivals, that it was ultimately beautiful.  Such a performance will place this team of 2010 with Cruyff’s early 90’s Barcelona. 

The only thing that separates these two immortal teams is time.  Their philosophies are so indistinguishable that Pep Guardiola dedicated this win to Johan Cruyff and Carles Rexach, the men who institutionalised their vision of how football should be played – the products of which we see today.

Although last season Barcelona won 6-2 in Madrid, this was different – this was Mourinho’s Madrid.  Embodied as the antithesis to Barcelona – defensive, reactive, ruthless and thoroughly selfish – this was as much as a win for media narratives and legendary tropes as it was for Barcelona.  Mourinho’s Madrid were never meant to go down like this, they’re meant to have a steely determination and desire to win that even Barcelona couldn’t penetrate.

They did, though – with consummate ease.  Ronaldo, Özil, Alonso were nowhere to be seen; Pepe and Carvalho were hard not to notice, flailing around with little understanding of how to cope with Messi’s movement.  Madrid’s frustration crescendoed into a red-card for Sergio Ramos after several spats throughout the match with various Barcelona players and managers. 

Barcelona played their game with the smug look on their face that we both equally loathe and love.  Madrid capitulated - but this wrongly assumes that they had a plan or strategy in the first place. 

Does anyone want to read on?  For those who want to hear about some of the most notable results throughout the weekend, this is for you.

Atlético Madrid lost at home to high-flyers Espanyol 3-2, the visitors now occupy fourth spot behind Villarreal in La Liga.  The Madrid team were a trifle unlucky, as they the majority of possession as well as shots but Espanyol keeper Idriss Kameni kept the ‘other Barcelona’ side in it.  Espanyol don’t score too many though; they’ve only scored 15 goals in 13 games but their watertight defence is keeping them in the European places.

Villarreal won; enough said. 

Hercules are doing a good job at staying up as well as entertaining, scoring three against the perennial yo-yo side Levante.  David Trezeguet keeps on scoring, too – this week bringing his tally to 7 in 11.  In America, he’d be a shop.

Pelligrini’s Málaga side lost 2-0 to Michael Laudrup’s Mallorca side, who are two managers arguably bigger than the two clubs they currently preside over.  Pelligrini is still yet to sort out their wretched defence, who, apart from Kris Stadsgaard, looks like they go out of their way to concede – there’s no prize for that I’m afraid.

If anyone carried on reading, I’m eternally grateful.

Fully Classified Results

Barcelona 5 – Real Madrid 0

Hercules 3 – Levante 1

Mallorca 2 – Malaga 0

Racing Santander 1 – Deportivo 0

Sporting Gijon 1 – Real Sociedad 3

Athletico Bilbao 1 – Osasuna 0

Valencia 2 – Almeria 1

Real Zaragoza 0 – Villarreal 3

Sevilla 1 – Getafe 3

Atletico Madrid 2 – Espanyol 3

Pichici Chasers

Cristiano Ronaldo (grumble grumble), Real Madrid – 14

Lionel Messi, Barcelona – 13

Fernando Llorente, Athletic Bilbao – 9

Nilmar, Villarreal – 8

Giuseppe Rossi, Villarreal – 8

David Villa, Barcelona – 8

Gonzalo Higuain, Real Madrid – 7

David Trezeguet, Hercules - 7

Tim writes regularly for IBWM but if you would like to read more from him, please visit his very fine blog.