By Bryan Maag (@HalfBAM)
This game ("El Classico") is watched by more people around the world than then Super Bowl and World Series combined. These two teams play twice a year in league play and then may play in the Champions League or Copa del Rey. Last year Gareth Bale made a famous run against Bartram to finish the game off, outrunning him past the halfway point and putting it past Barca’s second goal keeper.
This year the teams have changed and adapted. It seems that Madrid is playing the style of play that Barca originally made famous: one touch futbol. Last year Barca swept the league series but lost out on the trophy to Real, which made the central base of Spain very happy.
Barcelona must be looked at like an island much like Monico, they were suppressed under the Franco regime during World War II and have been the team that has been the symbol of the sovereignty ever since. Barcelona just put their backing behind Catalon independence which could create a lot of problems in La Liga. The Spanish capital cannot allow an independent state to play in their national league unless they yield some power to the economic benefits that Barcelona provides.
Barcelona is a key shipping port for trade as well as a tourist attraction that brings in millions of dollars to the Spanish government. Losing Catalonia would be a significant tax loss and economically a strategically big loss to Spain which makes these games so important.
Half a billion people watch the El Classico, the only country predominantly rooting for Madrid is Spain.
So here is my recap of Saturday’s game. A 3-1 victory for Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid…
Lucho (Enrique) played for Madrid before he switched to Barca. He knows that these games mean more to the players individually than they do to the fans. After all, Barca is still on top of the league. He started Xavi and Pique who have had subpar seasons up to date. Lucho has instilled tight lines back into the Barca game and Madrid exploited their gaps. Marcelo was always left open on the left wing because Mathieu (the new Barca center back) was put on the fullback position which is usually controlled by Jordi Alba because he needed to stop set pieces.
He did not succeed today in his task. Once upon a time there was a left back at Barcelona with the name of Eric Abidal, a Frenchman that could cover the back but was let go by the prior ownership because of hepatic cancer, leaving the Baulgrana faithful questioning if the slogan “more than a club” indeed really meant anything.
Today Madrid asserted their midfield dominance. So much money is placed on putting the ball in the goal these days. You have to wonder if the midfield makes more of a difference than the actual attack, Iniesta went out early, but Barca did not have an answer because they were playing for their B team.
Real won two titles last year without beating Barca in the league, so VISCA BARCA.