|Barcelona at the peak of their power? It’s easy to say Barcelona put on a clinic today, but it was more than that: they toyed with Real Madrid. They toyed so much with Real Madrid that you knew the game was going to erupt at some point into violence.|
And it did, as Sergio Ramos blatantly kick Messi from behind as he surged forward. Ramos was sent off as Barcelona players exploded in anger. Many Spanish teammates of Ramos getting into his face, as Pique, Iniesta, Xavi, and Puyol all rushed to Ramos in anger. Ramos responded by pushing Puyol in the face, knocking him to the ground. It was in many ways what was expected after the preceding 90 minutes of a beat down that Real Madrid endured.
Sergio Ramos Hacks Messi
I guess we should have seen the destruction coming, as right from the start Messi nearly chipped Iker Casillas from an acute angle. You could tell Barcelona were out for blood and looking to send a message. A message perhaps to Cristiano Ronaldo and Jose Mourinho and all those people who think Barcelona don’t deserve as much praise and attention as they get.
What style of football does Barcelona play? It’s the old Tiki Taka characterized by short quick passes and keeping possession. Keeping possession you say? That’s an understatement to say the least. Poor old Real Madrid looked like a division two side as they chased, and chased and chased Barcelona around. Barcelona held the ball close to their usual average in La Liga, 67%. But it looked much worse, in terms of the manner to which Barcelona picked Real Madrid apart and kept the ball tethered to their feet.
The score line really could have been worse, like seven or even eight nil. There were the quick give and goes and darting runs off the ball, but there was also the nutmegs and flicks and dummies, as Real Madrid was always a step too slow, just a step too late.
What caught my attention though was the way Barcelona switched the ball when they were put under pressure. A few times Real Madrid, in a rage almost, closed down Barcelona with all their might, only to see Barcelona calmly push the ball back and to the other side, escaping their best pressing defense. But the interesting part was how quickly Barcelona went right back to the other side where the pressure had come from. Going almost in to the heart of the pressure, as though to under cut it.
The wave of pressure would come, Barcelona would play the ball back and in and out and around to the other side and then switch the ball right back to the other side, sometimes via Busquets or Xavi, as they split the pressure. The goal, it seemed, was to do just that, split the pressure. Knock them over at the knees. Tire them out. Push them to the brink until they give up. Draw them in and let them chase and then split them apart.
I used to joke around saying Iniesta or Xavi or Messi should be forced to wear ankle weights when they play or Barcelona should play with one less man. The 5-0 win against a top club in the world was incredible. I don’t think I’ve seen a team get beaten down as badly as Real Madrid did today. I think Barcelona actually got bored for a minute.
Messi, you just can’t stop him. He was upset that he didn’t grab a goal in the game. The ball at his foot meant only bad things for Real Madrid. The laser perfect pass to David Villa for the fourth goal was just exquisite.
Is he better than Cristiano Ronaldo? I think he answered that question today without a doubt. The only highlight clip that will be shown with Cristiano in it will be when he pushed Pep Guardiola.
Cristiano Ronaldo Pushes Pep Guardiola
You’d have to say Ronaldo pushing Pep was warranted. Guardiola did pull the ball away from him.
Is this the best team ever? I think it might just be. Is this the best Barcelona team ever? No question. Basically Barcelona is Spain plus Messi. Or Spain minus Xabi, Sergio Ramos, and Casillas. But Spain plus Messi minus a few players is quite a team.
A few years ago in the Champions League final Barcelona put on a clinic much like they did today, as they embarrassed Manchester United. They last year to Inter Milan in the semi-finals perhaps because they didn’t have David Villa. He takes them over the top, as he’s a pure goal scorer.
An awesome animation of Barcelona’s 5-0 thrashing of Real Madrid by Richard Swarbrick:
What’s left to say? Can’t wait for the return match in Madrid.
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