Barca were absolutely superior for the entirety of the match. Stringing together beautiful passes, finding acres of space and providing the perfect ball, and performed more than their share of flicks, back heels and tricks. But perhaps more interesting was how abysmal Real played.
This season’s Clasico carried more weight than those in recent memory. In 2009/10, Real missed out on the title by a mere three points after one of the most impressive seasons in the history of La Liga. However, they lost this very fixture last term and those three points were the difference between an empty-handed Real and title-winning Barca.
And with the arrival of Jose Mourinho to Real, it appeared as though Los Blancos were ready to have a go at winning their first derby in five tries. That wasn’t to be.
There wasn’t a single Real player who appeared up for the match. Sergio Ramos and Marcelo continually gave possession away in their own third, Pepe was turned inside-out with regularity, and Ricardo Carvalho was lucky to remain in the match after many close calls that could have warranted cautions.
Sami Khedira and Xabi Alonso didn’t seem to be anywhere. Neither of the two provided the deep passes expected of them, nor did they provide adequate cover for the back four. It was literally as though they weren’t in the game. They weren’t anywhere. They couldn’t aid in picking up the runs of Leo Messi or Pedro, nor could they distribute. This is not exaggeration, it was as if they weren’t there. Count their positive contributions. I mean real, positive contributions, not just completed passes. I’ll bet there are fewer than five between them.
The attack would have been just as invisible if it weren’t for those glowing Nike Mercurial Superfly II Safari CR7s of Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo struggled to get going, and never posed any real threat in open play. Two free kicks from dangerous areas missed the target, even if they did have Victor Valdez sweating. Angel Di Maria, Mesut Ozil, and Karim Benzema all contributed equal parts in the sense that because of the names on the backs of their shirts, you would think they might be able to create something, anything for themselves or Ronaldo. Wasn’t to be. Lassana Diarra was inserted at half for Ozil and the hard-tackling Frenchman was more productive going forward than the German visionary.
Mourinho has said all along that Real is a work in progress. That’s certainly true, but his teams have never been beaten by more than three goals, much less five. And this is arguably the most talented squad Mourinho has ever had to work with. And this was the one game Real couldn’t afford to get thumped.
Things need to move forward at the Bernabeu at a quicker rate or else the Galacticos 2.1 experiment is going to be an awfully expensive and embarrassing mess. For Real and Mourinho.
And Barca? Carry on, lads.