“One team played to their potential and one didn’t. Loss, yes – humiliation, no. It was a defeat we deserved, we just weren’t good enough.”
These were Jose Mourinho’s words to the media following his side’s thrilling (obviously not for him) El Clasico mauling by bitter rivals Barcelona. The Special One would never admit to humiliation, as usual he kept his cool, calm and collected exterior, but a 5-0 defeat has to have hit him and Real Madrid hard.
Let’s put this in context. The last time Real Madrid lost to Barcelona by a five goal margin in the league was way back in 1974 when Johan Cruyff was amongst the goals in another 5-0 thriller. I must point out here that Barcelona went on to win the league that season (I’m just saying). Mourinho’s assertion that last night’s defeat was anything other than a humiliation will surely anger many Madrid fans.
I had been looking forward to this game all weekend. The El Clasico derby is like a heavy weight main event; two of the greatest football teams of all time going head to head. This season the match seemed to be even more mouth watering with both sides adding world class talent to their ranks. I was looking forward to see how David Villa fared, or how Mesut Ozil would do against such a strong opposition. This was a game that even the experts had trouble predicting (anyone who says they predicted this 5-0 result is as trustworthy as a man claiming to have invented the wheel). This game could have gone either way. I’ll admit that I was expecting a quiet affair. I thought Mourinho would set out a solid defensive system that would slow the game right down. In all honesty I was expecting a 1-0 win to Madrid.
Barcelona completely dominated the match. Lionel Messi has fully recovered from his dismal World Cup campaign with Argentina and shown himself to be the world class talent he is. His pace and his vision to pass balls into space completely tore the Madrid defence apart. Added to this was the clinical striking of David Villa whose two goals showed just how dangerous a centre forward he is. I don’t think anyone could argue against him being the best out and out striker in the world in recent times. Xavi (His brilliant chipped goal certainly showed the frailties of Iker Casillas) and Iniesta also played amazing as well but this has come to be expected of them.
One of the big questions that people will ask following this game is; were Barcelona that good or were Real Madrid that bad? I’m inclined to lean towards the former. Real Madrid played badly, don’t get me wrong, but it was Barcelona’s class that saw them through. They played what can truly be described as ‘perfect football’ for the entire 90 minutes.
So, what does this defeat mean in terms of the La Liga title? It all really depends on Real Madrid. If they respond to this with results in their next game then they should be fine. They are at home to Valencia at the weekend and this is by no means an easy game. Valencia are fifth in the table and have done remarkably well given the fact they lost David Villa to Barcelona in the summer. Mourinho will need to inject a healthy dose of confidence in his players before this fixture. The players need to move on from this defeat as soon as possible and a full 5 days of the terror they faced last night lingering in their heads won’t do them any favours. If they can overcome this shock to the system and get a few good results in their next few games then Madrid will be fine. They are only two points behind Barca and I expect that the title race will go right down to the wire.
Last night’s game was a pure joy to watch for all football fans (well, maybe not Real Madrid fans) and showed the world the true beauty and skill that can be demonstrated on a football pitch. Football can throw surprises at you, and as I said earlier; no one could have predicted this result. The only thing I’m certain of is this; the reverse fixture in the second half will be a much tighter affair. Mourinho will order his team to defend and close up shop. Last night he just didn’t see it coming.