FC Barcelona vs. Real Madrid: El Clasico…the morning after

BARCELONA, SPAIN - AUGUST 17: Marcelo of Real Madrid is sent off during the Super Cup second leg match between Barcelona and Real Madrid at Nou Camp on August 17, 2011 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Just once I’d like to not wake up in a post-Clasico minefield of emotions. FC Barcelona won, as Managing Madrid’s Gabe Lezra so eloquently put it, the least important trophy of the year. So far I agree with my friend (yeah, I’m friends with a Madridista, get over it) but apparently some players on the pitch didn’t receive the memo. One name in particular comes into mind, Real Madrid’s Marcelo. With just a few minutes left on the clock, Marcelo felt compelled enough to make a brutal challenge on Cesc Fabregas, around the halfway line of all places. Apparently the meaningless Supercopa trophy meant a lot to Marcelo, and perhaps all Real Madrid players. I don’t know, maybe it’s just my perception but Real Madrid did celebrate the Spanish Cup triumph as if they had finally won their tenth Champions League trophy, the elusive La Decima. However, I’m inclined to believe it’s not so much about the trophy but the opponent that has led some players to show their ugly side. A match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid is never just that, it’s never just a simple game. Both these teams aspire, or better yet claim to be the best, not just in Spain but in the world. Nevertheless, it’s been a while since Real Madrid have won the domestic league, and even longer since they last tasted Champions League glory.

 

 

While I do concede that Real Madrid was arguably the better side over the two legs of the Spanish Supercopa, I would be cautious to elevate them onto the same level as FC Barcelona just yet. The two best (read: successful) teams of the last decade have been my beloved Blaugrana and Manchester United. In light of their accumulated success it’s disrespectful to leave the Red Devils out of contention of the world’s best team debate. Though Real Madrid is the most successful club in Spain and the Champions League, only very few of its current players owns a winners’ medal. Out of those only Ilker Casillas has won it wearing the Los Blancos shirt (Xabi Alonso with Liverpool, Cristiano Ronaldo with Manchester United and Kaka with AC Milan). I find it quite amusing how every new Real Madrid signing can’t wait to proclaim that he joined the best – not greatest – but best club in the world. Hmm, if winning the Spanish Cup (a title barely more prestigious than the English Carling Cup) has caused so much euphoria among the squad and the Madrid faithful, I assume any title will do. If talking a good game is the yardstick for success, then I champion Sergio Ramos and Co. the best, without a doubt. But football is played on a pitch, not the press room. And the trophy count over the last couple of seasons has firmly established the consensus that FC Barcelona is the best club. Proclaiming FC Barcelona and Real Madrid as the two best clubs is just another way of saying "if it wasn’t for FC Barcelona we would be the best team". It’s not as simple as that. Beating FC Barcelona over 90 minutes is a magnificent achievement but that doesn’t mean the victor is superior or as good as the Blaugrana. By that logic, one would have to consider relegated Segunda-side Hercules as one of the best teams around, having beaten FC Barcelona last year. I’m inclined to believe that consistency is the only parameter by which to judge which is the best side. Maybe that’s hard to digest and accept for a Real Madrid player and fan. There’s no shortcut to the pinnacle of football. History counts for nothing, heck even Uruguay has won the World Cup. Perhaps it was the frustration to yet again come up short against the Blaugrana that caused Marcelo to…well, overreact. Nobody wants to be just the second best. I can only assume that some fans would’ve interpreted a Real Madrid victory against FC Barcelona as the definite proof of being on equal footing with the Blaugrana. I can only reiterate it’s just one game, no more, no less. 

 

A draw would’ve been a fair result – Ilker Casillas
"Based on the chances created, the fairest thing would be a draw" 

 

There’s no trophy for effort in football. At the end of 90 minutes what matters it the result, and last night the result was 3-2 victory, for FC Barcelona. 

But we have been the better side….. So? Arsenal FC plays better football than arguably 90 percent of the English Premier League. Still, the North Londoners have failed to grind out results when it mattered most. The what if and/or but-rhetoric leads nowhere. 

 

We were superior – Sergio Ramos
"We were a lot better than in recent games against Barcelona. "We put in a great performance and always knew what had to be done. We kept possession longer, but we lacked the luck we've had on goal in other matches."

Before the first leg of the Supercopa

 

I guess. But the guy was awfully quiet when his side was humiliated 5-0 back in November 2010. Wouldn’t it be nice to hear "They were superior" for a change? How about that? When it’s close then it’s because due to unfortunate circumstances. When it’s one-sided then it’s convenient not to comment.

Aha. 

Championing Real Madrid as one of the two best sides in the world is premature and, at this point in time at least, not warranted. They have a squad worthy of being considered one of the best, certainly a squad with an immense potential. But until that potential translates into trophies, the verdict is still out. Of course one is entitled to have an opinion, but please spare me the history lesson, I’m not that old. In MY lifetime Real Madrid hasn’t been the most successful club, neither in Europe nor in Spain. I’m an 80’s baby if you have to know. If Manchester City were to steamroll each and every opponent, win every competition there is from now on – one would have to accept that they are the best. There’s a fine line between remembering the past and obsessively hanging onto it. I think some Real Madrid players are too eager to conclude that Real Madrid is the best club in the world. From an economic standpoint, the answer is yes. Sporting-wise….I’m not so sure. By definition there can only be a best, not many. I am aware that new signings, Alexis Sanchez and Cesc Fabregas have said the same. But didn’t they really just join the best team? Isn’t the (recent) 2010/2011 Champions League triumph (the third in just five years) vindication enough? 

I suspect the overly physical and aggressive approach of some Real Madrid players can be attributed to their need to live up to the billing and proclamations, they, ironically, made themselves in the first place. If you champion yourself to be the best team in the world but are yet again on the verge of another defeat, I can understand why you’re frustrated. Still, even FC Barcelona’s Thiago Alcantara felt compelled to release an ignorant statement of his own.

 

We will win the Supercopa – Thiago
"It's quite simple: I think that Barcelona will win the trophy," Thiago told Sport. When you master all defensive and offensive aspects of the game and always enjoy the majority of possession, you're sitting in pole position to win."

 

It almost eclipses the ignorance of Real Madrid players, since he is not even a regular starter for the Blaugrana. But the boy has barely escaped his teens, so he’ll get a pass. 

The moral of the story? Talk less, it creates a lot less pressure to perform.  



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