MADRID, SPAIN - APRIL 26: Lionel Messi of Barcelona holds the ball during a team training session at Real Madrid's Estadio Santiago Bernabeu ahead of their UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg match against Real on April 26, 2011 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
Apparently some readers of Will Tidey’s CNN article “The billion dollar grudge match: The enormity of El Clasico” didn’t agree with my contribution to his story, especially the part “In Spain the population of Catalunya don’t consider themselves Spanish”. As it is always the case with weak arguments, doubts where raised over my credibility. Oh how I love cheap shots. One anonym critic voiced his/her disagreement “Mr. Sebastian, I really have doubts whether you have been to Catalunya”.
Well, here you go Mr./Mrs. Anonymous. Click here. Knock yourself out and get over it. If I’m not mistaken that’s me at the Camp Nou, which should be located in Catalunya. Perhaps I got it all wrong again. Maybe I am as bad in geography as they say. I guess the Basque are proud Spaniards too. Hence, that’s why Athletico Bilbao only field players from the Basque region.
Nevertheless, now that I have addressed this issue, let’s focus on tonight’s main event, the third of four Clasicos. In the preceding two Clasico’s the Blaugrana displayed anything but a vintage performance. If anything it only validated a cold hard fact, Pep Guardiola has been found out. If Plan A doesn’t work out, nothing will because there is no Plan B.
In all fairness, it must be said that FC Barcelona’s squad doesn’t necessarily possess the diversity to significantly change their style. Bombarding the box with crosses is out of the question since the average height of Barcelona’s forwards is just 1,70m, while the only player on FC Barcelona’s books with superior aerial ability currently plies his trade in Milan, Italy. By now I assume everyone knows who the player in question is, the incarnation of lazy elegance himself, Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Furthermore, FC Barcelona football philosophy is and has always (since Cruyff’s managerial stint) been attacking-football. For better or worse, FC Barcelona will always attack. Maybe that’s part of the attraction why Culés are drawn to the Blaugrana.
It’s hopelessly romantic and perhaps even a little naïve but one cannot deny the rewards from such a strict adherence to a single policy. The last decade, even with its disappointments, has been the best in FC Barcelona’s distinguished history. And the Blaugrana won all these major trophies while being faithful to their style. It would be unfair to deem a single trophy a failure. After all, Barca are on their way to win a third successive La Liga trophy, a feat not achieved since the original Dream Team.
But the next 180 minutes of UEFA Champions League El Clasico madness will decide whether this Barcelona team will continue its quest for immortalization among football’s greatest sides or not.
With all the injuries I wouldn’t mind seeing Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid side getting a taste of their own medicine, albeit with a distinct Barca-flavor. Keeping possession and passing the ball with no real intention to attack, how about that? It would make up for quite a frustrating match but it’s at the Santiago Bernabeu, why would I care if the Madrid audience is bored out its mind?
By this point it’s kind of obvious that I’m more than just frustrated. But isn’t it time for a change? I’m talking change, not revolution, a few changes here and there. Even in the most harmonious of relationships there’s a time to make adjustments.
Why can’t Pep adjust his tactical scheme just once?
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For more coverage on the Clasico check out the following articles:
A Brief Moment in El Clásico History: Champions League by Bostjan Cernensek
FC Barcelona: Time to step up and be counted by Arron Duckling
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