Bearing in mind the final result of last night’s encounter with Chelsea, I simply couldn’t face recapping that game in much greater detail. However, luckily for us, Barcelona will have next to no time to dwell on the loss; in a little over two days time, the Blaugrana will take to the field at the Camp Nou, looking to cut the gap at the top to just a single point. Of course, El Clasico beckons. Bearing that in mind, this is the first in a quick-fire series looking back on some of the most memorable performances in El Clasico, with two articles today recapping the great Barcelona team displays (all of which took place during Pep’s reign) and a further two articles tomorrow in which we can reminisce about the great individual displays from a couple of the all-time Barca greats.
Everything about this Clasico was unique. It was the first Clasico for Real Madrid under Jose Mourinho, and the expectations were high. Real Madrid were heading into the match as league leaders and were yet to lose under their enigmatic Portuguese coach. Furthermore, the last time Mourinho was at the Camp Nou, it was with Internazionale, and while he lost on the day, that result was enough to seal Inter’s place in the UEFA Champions League final. On the other hand, Barcelona’s start to the season had been mixed to say the least. That home loss to Hercules was a shock, although Barcelona were heading into the Clasico on good form. Just to add yet more drama to the fold, this was the first Clasico to be played on a Monday, after the Catalan elections pushed kick-off back by 24 hours. The world watched on in anticipation.
Five minutes. That was all it took for me to be convinced that we were going to witness something special. The reason? Lionel Messi. The Argentine was given time and space on the ball in the right-hand side of the Madrid penalty area, so naturally, he tried to lob Iker Casillas. This was the same Casillas who just a few months previous had lifted the World Cup as captain of Spain, but Lionel Messi didn’t care. The ball looped over the Spaniard and struck the far post. Fans and commentators alike let out a gasp – how did he nearly do that? From that moment onward it was obvious that Barcelona were out to humiliate Real Madrid.
Then Xavi got the break-through; with 10 minutes on the clock his partner in crime Andres Iniesta slipped through the most delightful of through balls, with Pepe inches away from intercepting the danger. But it wasn’t to be his night. The ball rolled through towards Xavi, and even to this day I have no clue how he controlled that pass, flicking the ball over his own shoulder before lifting it over Casillas. 1-0 Barcelona.
Within eight minutes, that lead was doubled. Barcelona had not trouble keeping possession, working the ball around nicely in the Real Madrid half until it found its way to David Villa out on the left-hand side. Villa displayed a fine turn of pace to scuttle away from Ramos and send in a dangerous low cross with his weaker left boot. On hand to score the tap-in was one Pedro Rodriguez. Barca went in at the break 2-0 up, with Mourinho responding by removing Mesut Ozil for Lass Diarra. As if that was ever going to stop them.
10 minutes into the second half (I’m seeing a pattern here) Lionel Messi did brilliantly to play through David Villa and El Guaje finished with aplomb, striking the ball into the far corner of Casillas’ net. 3-0 Barcelona, and the look on Guardiola’s face said it all: this was pure delight.
Three minutes later, and Barcelona were at it again. This time Lionel Messi decided simple through ball were not enough, he had to caress the ball thirty yards – from inside his own half – through the middle of the slightest of gaps. He had to humiliate Real Madrid to play through David Villa for a second time in quick succession, and we all know that nothing gets in the way of Lionel Messi and a Barcelona goal. Villa’s run was superb, just as good as the pass in fact, while his finish was even better as he toe-poked the ball through the legs of his international colleague. This was getting out of hand.
Sergio Busquets nearly added a fifth from inside the centre-circle with his audacious lob landing on the roof of the net, and this only served to enrage Mourinho’s men. Barcelona were playing keep-ball, Real Madrid were running around like headless chickens, it was simply ludicrous; who would have ever thought that these two teams could appear so even, yet be so very far apart? The introduction of Bojan and Jeffren led to the fifth goal in injury time, cue the Manita. Ramos’ late red card reeked of frustration; he knew his side had been out-classed. El Smashico? El Thrashico? El Kick-assico? Whatever you wanted to call it, this was a special night for FC Barcelona, one that influenced Mourinho’s tactics for the remainder of the season. Even now, the Manita looms large, like a shadow over Jose Mourinho’s career. Simply put, it was one of the greatest nights in this club’s history.
FC Barcelona 5-0 Real Madrid || Goals & highlights || 29-11-2010 || High Definition (via nestoor11)