Sunday, April 17, 2011

Real Madrid-Barcelona: El Clasico (1/4): Points Worth Noting

Pepe to Messi: "Are you crazy?"
Last night Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid brought an end to the winning streak of Pep Gaurdiola's Borecelona....err....Barcelona in El Clasico as well as their streak away from home.

Jose Mourinho's men fought hard, were the better team, created the better chances despite being "outpassed" and "outpossessed," earned themselves a draw with 10 men on the field. It didn't help that the referee was, as usual against them. This draw as stated by Marca's headline, "feels like a win".

There are always many match reviews available on the internet of such games and it's always better to do something different, so that's why I have decided to discuss point by point the things that happened in the match which were worth discussing.

Barcelona's Football is as Negative as it Can Get

Barcelona had 76% possession of the ball according to ESPN Soccernet, and as far as I remember the commentator repeatedly reminding how Barcelona had completed more than twice the number of passes than Real Madrid while having an orgasm. The bias of Mediapro's commentator didn't enable him to watch the match properly as he was praising Barcelona for playing square balls and back passes while lined up at the half-line unable to create anything worthwhile except for a good showing for number of passes completed.

Keeping possession while attacking is 'good attacking football', but keeping possession for the sake of not giving it to the opposition should be considered as a negative tactic, just like taking the ball to the flag or rolling in defense is, people need to get rid of their bias towards FC Barcelona.

The Trivote Worked Wonders/Pepe is Amazing in Midfield

Bassam of Real Madrid Offside and I have had a discussion about using the trivote many time, we had Granero as our choice with Khedira and Xabi Alonso, but after Granero was suspended both of us had agreed on Pepe as the third man in the trivote over Lass; Lass got injured we got our wish, and it turns out what we wanted was the right thing all along. We wanted Real Madrid to close down spaces, press high up the field and not give time to Barcelona's midfielders time to pick out passes that can open up defenses. Pepe did just that; he hounded the Catalan midfielders down, won tackles in the middle of the park, and helped start many of Real Madrid's attack; hands down the best player on the field.

The trivote should be used again in the remaining Clasicos without any change or bringing in Lass, Lass just isn't the same as Pepe. Pepe's much more cleaner and disciplined than Lass.

Dani Alves & Adriano Were Kept Quiet

After watching a few Barcelona games, I had realized how important Dani Alves is for Barcelona. When going forward, Dani Alves always bombs up the field making dangerous runs, getting into good positions and getting involved in many attacking plays with quick one-two passing. Due to the compact shape of Real Madrid and breaking quickly on the counters, Dani Alves didn't venture forward in attack too much and that made it one less player to deal with while defending. Not only Alves, the left-back Adriano didn't make many attacking runs either.

 Full-Backs Can't Be Red Carded

Yes, that's right, according to the fourth-official in the game, full backs can't be red-carded. In the press-conference after the game, Jose was talking about how Alves should have been red-carded for a second bookable offense when he brought down Marcelo in the box conceding a penalty and that's when he said:

 "I asked the fourth official why there wasn't a second yellow and he told me it's because he's a full-back."

All these times, all these times when Sergio Ramos got red carded, all he had to say was, "I'm a full-back b****!" and he would have stayed on, I ask for the Spanish FA and the UEFA to apologize to Sergio Ramos for giving him red cards in La Liga, Copa del Ray and Champions League.

Neither Ozil Nor Di Maria Should Start The Next Clasico

Both Di Maria and Mesut Ozil have been immense for Real Madrid this season but none of them are suitable to start the El Clasico just yet. Di Maria has got the nerves and Ozil is not someone who can keep up the same intensity over the 90 minutes.

Last night Di Maria's touch and control deserted him many a times, the same Di Maria would have latched on to those similar balls and would have tore up the defense of some other team but he just couldn't keep the ball close to him and always ran into trouble. Di Maria just isn't ready mentally.

Ozil was brilliant when he came on last night, dribbling past defenders, passing the ball well, getting involved in the play. The problem with Ozil starting is that in order to last the 90 minutes he will stop pressing in attack and will not track back, and the success we had in shutting out Barcelona's midfield was the fact that everyone put in their defensive shifts properly, even Cristiano Ronaldo was tracking back helping in defense many times. If Ozil switches off we have a problem.

Picking someone to start out of the two is a little difficult, so I'll just go ahead and put the weirdest idea in your head about starting Benzema and Higuain along with Cristiano Ronaldo

But as far as Jose Mourinho goes, I know he'll start Ozil. Won't be a bad idea if Ozil does a complete job and puts in 60-70 minutes and then Di Maria comes on in his place as an impact substitute.

 I nearly predicted the correct line-up (The mistake I made was picking Higuain over Benzema) nearly 12 hours before the game on Twitter, let's wait and see if I predicted the correct line-up this time as well. Best of luck to the players for the remaining Clasicos! Hala Madrid!

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