Xavi 10, Pedro 17, Villa 55, 58, Jeffren 90
REAL MADRID 0
FC Barcelona produced one of their most impressive displays in recent history to snatch first place in a La Liga from bitter foes real Madrid in devastating fashion.
Despite the chaotic build-up to this huge tie, Barcelona began the game as if it were a pre-season friendly. The Blaugrana boasted almost a whopping 70% possession in the match, and few would have predicted the degree of control the Catalonians would have had over their fierce Spanish nemeses. Despite the pre-match build up centring on the head-to-head between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, Barcelona produced a complete team performance. Every player did their bit in ensuring Madrid was put to the sword, and a sweeping analysis across the team is required to fully appreciate the quality of victory.
Barcelona began most of their moves from the back, and the Blaugrana rearguard seemed comfortable playing a short game in their own half despite the attacking prowess Madrid boast. Carles Puyol showed the heroics that have endeared him to Los Cules for years, throwing himself in front of shots, crosses and everything Madrid threw at the Barcelona rearguard. Indeed, the performance fully embodied the spirit and ethos of La Masia de Can Planes. Once again, the philosophy of passing football, championed by a team almost entirely made up of youth products of the famous academy triumphed over the cheque-book wielding Blacos.
This was exemplified no better than in the performance of goal scorer Pedro Rodriguez. Even after a lung-bursting run forward, the forward would chase down possession immediately, closing off all angles for defenders to pass their way out of trouble. Despite being considered still somewhat of a rough diamond, the forward displayed a tireless youthful exuberance that money cannot buy in a match of this significance.
Up front along with Pedro, David Villa showed why he suits Barcelona so well by flourishing in the second half. After his clinical goals, the confidence they brought enticed skilful flicks and neat interplay from the Spain striker that was far too perplexing for Madrid to keep up with. Despite the impressive score-line, the margin of victory could yet have been more. The Barcelona players seemed hell-bent on keeping possession and inflicting as much dominance as possible over their rivals. Such was the obsession with speedy, neat triangle passes that an outlet in the form of Eric Abidal was often ignored in the first half when the Frenchman found himself in acres of space on the left wing.
The Catalonians revelled in humiliating their rivals, as other opportunities to release breaking players with a chipped through-ball were ignored in favour of holding the ball at close-quarters. Nevertheless, there was never any sign of panic, as Sergio Busquets, Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta stroked the ball around against the Galactico-saturated Madrid giants like they do against those who prop up La Liga. Indeed, it would be easy to forget that the mighty Real Madrid were the opposition, such was the jaw-dropping ease with which Barcelona won this game. Los Blancos tried to press, yet Barcelona pressed harder. They even tried to rough up Lionel Messi, yet Barca just kept playing the way they always play. Ultimately, like the majority of the Blaugrana’s opponents, Madrid simply had no answer.
2 Alves – 3 Pique – 5 Puyol – 22 Abidal
6 Xavi – 16 Busquets – 8 Iniesta
7 Villa – 10 Messi – 17 Pedro
76 – 9 Bojan on for 7 Villa
86 – 15 Keita on for 6 Xavi
86 – 11 Jeffren on for 17 Pedro