By Bryan Maag | @FutbolTasteMkrs
This past weekend’s much-anticipated La Liga match pitting top-ranked F.C. Barcelona against no. 2 Atletico Madrid ended up being a brutal/beautiful example of two team's will to win, which ultimately resulted in a 2-1 FCB win and two Marid players being sent off. Over FCB’s last few outings, teams have been pressing Barcelona high up the pitch, forcing them back up against their own sticks. The thought process has been to push Barcelona at their own game.
Conventional wisdom over the last five years has had teams sit back at their own end and invite Barcelona to attack time and time again, relying on one shot throughout the 90 minutes they could capitalize on. On Saturday, Atletico flew in the face of this traditional tactic and came out firing. It paid off, as they were able to score within the first twenty minutes.
Similar to Atletic Bilbao, and Malaga before that, Atletico Madrid could not keep up the exhausting pressure to secure a win. It took 20 more minutes but Barcelona was able to equalize at the half hour mark. Luis Suarez secured the win 10 minutes later with a show of personal brilliance. Finally, just before the end of an eventful first half, the game took a turn for the worse right before when Atletico’s frustration boiled over and Felipe Luis attempted to end Messi’s career with a high foot to the knee. Luckily, the fabled Messi walked away unscathed and Luis was rightfully sent off for the tackle.
The second half featured Atletico displaying a lot of heart and a near equalizer, until finally their brutal tactics resulted in another player being sent off with a red.
February is shaping up to be a rough month for both teams. Barcelona will be competing in the Champions League, Copa Del Rey and La liga. The next six weeks will decide their place in all three competitions.
The big news on Monday was Pep Guardiola finally confirmed his much-anticipated move to Manchester City. He will be leaving behind a Bayern team that he has lead to unprecedented Bundesliga titles and the DFB Pokal. Today many managers are judged on European Success and rightly so, but Pep has been glorious as their leader. He has dealt with countless injuries and revamped the squad with Douglas Costa, Thiago Alacantera, and Robert Lewandowski. He is in a great place to take home European glory this year. But if not, he will leave with his head held high.
Moving to City will be a huge shock to the Premier League. Pep will reunite with his old Barcelona confidant Txiki to overhaul the City squad. I would expect Fernandinho, Toure, Fernando, and Nasri to be shown the door within a year. City has young talent in Kevin de Bruyne but not enough to keep them moving forward. Pep will splash some cash this summer, which will be very interesting to see with Real Madrid needing to dominate the market prior to their transfer ban.
If Cristiano Ronaldo jettisons to the beaches of Miami and Zlatan leaves PSG, the summer market is going to be incredibly inflated. Pep will rely on selling his development of players like Messi, Busquets, and Thiago but players will have a lot of bargaining leverage. jettisons to the beaches of Miami and Zlatan leaves PSG, the summer market is going to be incredibly inflated. Pep will rely on selling his development of players like Messi, Busquets, and Thiago but players will have a lot of bargaining leverage.
Perhaps the most worried people about Pep’s move to City are the people of Barcelona. Barcelona has to be scared their youth setup will be raided once again, especially the young Sergi Roberto. Hopefully Pep doesn’t meddle with his old club. Only time will tell.