By George Allwell…
It was the fifth El Clasico victory in a row. One more victory against Real Madrid and Barcelona would equal the record for successive victories in the biggest football match of them all. Two victories and they would be the greatest. The classic team. Sid Lowe writes in his summing up of the 5-0 victory,
The fifth goal had to arrive and when it did, it mattered. It turned a baño – a bath, a drubbing – into a manita, a little hand. A goal for every finger. The most perfect of beatings.
Pep Guardiola, the architect of this current Barcelona side, is currently on the same winning streak. Five wins out of five. Invincible. Another manita.
This was the fifth time Barcelona had defeated Real Madrid 5-0.
It was also revenge. The Champions League was wrestled from these parts by the master tactician, the self-confessed Special One, the man charged with bringing back success at the arch-ist of all arch-rivals; the new manager of Real Madrid, Jose Mourinho. The enemy. He could see the weaknesses. He had the plans. He’d done it before. Well, Inter Milan (the team who JM won his 2nd Champions League title with), who came to the Nou Camp earlier this year with a 3-1 lead in a Champions League Semi-Final second leg, managed to qualify yes, but they didn’t manage a shot on goal. They only had 24% possession. They sat deep, the tried to soak up the pressure, they managed to concede just the one goal. He had become the only doubt. Last night that was all destroyed.
It was Mourinho’s biggest humiliation. He’d never even lost by four goals before. The Spanish press were also rubbing it in, especially the Catalonian ones.
The front page of Sport, a Catalunya-based daily, had a picture of a splayed hand with the headline: “5-0. Slap to Mourinho. Thrashing, humiliation and leaders!”
It added: “Footballing lesson from Barça to Madrid, who received another historic thrashing at the Camp Nou .”
Does it make a massive difference in the context of the destiny of the league title? Of course not. They are only 2 points ahead. Real Madrid may have been replaced at the top of the table, but if Guardiola and his team take their foot off the gas even slightly; Jose and his £250 million team will pounce. Madrid are a squad filled with world-class talent. Spurs are currently flourishing after picking off (Rafael Van Der Vaart) the left overs from the Bernabeu. This isn’t about talent though, this is about footballing philosophy. Mourinho improved in terms of possession last night but these are small scraps of hope. Opta Jose
“Barça-Real FT stats – Shots 15-5, on target 6-2, Passes 684-331, Pass completion 89%-74%, Possession 67%-33%, Fouls 12-16.”
Mourinho, and every other team that plays Barcelona, tries to contain them. They try to contain the system. The super system.
Stability and La Masia. These are the key factors. The core of the team has remained the same over years and there has been only 1 coach change in 5 years. Compare that to 6 or 7 changes at Real Madrid. Also, the core of the team which is playing currently for Barca, played together at junior levels. So they have a natural understanding with each other which makes it easy for them to play together.
Who do you think it was that said that? The Barca president? The manager? The Catalan press? No, those words were spoken by,
…a staunch Los Merengues’ fan….a Real Madrid fan speaking about FC Barcelona.
This system does not just play pretty football. Not like Arsenal. This team wins things. Consecutive league titles. The sextuple. Possibly the only time that will ever happen, although you wouldn’t put it past this team doing it again. How can you? How can you ever go into a game involving Barcelona and not predict a win? Home or away? Remember this result came off the back of a 8-0 away victory last week. The Bleacher Report highlight arguably the main reason for their success. The youth system.
Barçelona’s youth system is unique, not only in the standard of player it produces, but also in the methods of training and education used when grooming the game’s next generation of stars.
Do they play competitive game after competitive game instilling the winning mentality of the Special One? Win, win, win. Do they coach a number of different tactical philosophies to adapt to different situations when facing different teams? No. I’ll let the best player in the world and product of the system, Leo Messi explain,
“The Barcelona youth programme is one of the best in the world,” Messi said. “As a kid they teach you not to play to win, but to grow in ability as a player. At Barca, we trained every day with the ball, and I hardly ever ran without a ball at my feet. It was a form of training aimed very clearly at developing your skills.”
Not just one youth team though with a few expert coaches. The cantara is the youth academy.
Barçelona’s cantera consists of 290 players, 15 teams, and 110 employees.
Mass skill development. The teams play the same way as the first team. They learn to keep the ball. The comparisons with Arsenal are fair. Arsene Wenger has very similar beliefs (and is probably better in the transfer market than any Barcelona manager ever) about how a football club should be run. Receive a pass, one touch (no more than two, unless you’re Messi), pass, move into space. Sid Lowe says it best,
Barcelona completed 636 passes, Madrid 279. “They could have played with two balls,” wrote Roberto Palomar, “and Barcelona would have controlled both.” Xavi, the best central midfielder in Spanish history and the man who ran last year’s clásico, completed 114 of 117 passes. It was the sixth time he has gone over 100. Busquets and Iniesta moved the ball with a pace and precision, usually with a single touch.
A single touch. That final goal late into the game that created the Super Manita, that gave the game a goal for every finger, might be the final touch in a season Mourinho will want to forget. A time in Spain that could end without a league title, without a Champions League crown, a time that could make him start to yearn for the acceptance from The Classic Team; Barcelona Football Club. Decide for yourself.