There was a sense of inevitability about this game. Barcelonaai??i??s loss at Stamford bridge seemed a viable tactic to beat the Catalans and Real Madrid followed suit. The current European champions were found wanting in two key areas of the field and one canai??i??t help but feel that they could have used the services of David Villa and Eric Abidal, especially at this stage of the season.

Real Madrid, on the other hand, have finally learnt their lesson. It took an ageing and technically inferior team like Chelsea to teach them that lesson. Why Mourinho took so long to get the point is beyond comprehension. The last time Madrid beat their rivals in a crunch match was the Copa Del Rey final (which became famous for Ramos dropping the trophy). In that game, Mourinho played Cristiano Ronaldo in a more central role and the only goal of the match came from a header from Ronaldo via a cross from Angel Di Maria.

Barcelona Strategy And Gameplay

How They Started?

[3-4-3] ai??i?? Valdes; Puyol, Mascherano, Adriano; Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta, Thiago;Tello, Messi, Alves

Barcelona, opted for the 3-4-3 which has brought some success this season. This game, like the one against Chelsea wasnai??i??t about tactics going wrong but rather not having the personnel upfront to execute their gameplan. One look at the front three and you will understand that there really is only one player for the defenders to worry about.

Chelsea did a good job of boxing in Messi but a large part of the diminutive Argentineai??i??s game is for his teammates to make darting runs either laterally or longitudinally to force opposing defenders to keep track of said players thus allowing Messi to either send a through-ball between the centre back and full back for his teammate to run onto or score himself.

Unfortunately, the wingers in this case were simply not potent enough to create any goal threats. Cristian Tello is a 20 year old striker very much in the mold of David Villa except he lacks experience and quite frankly, there are very few players who can finish like El Guaje. David Villa is just as much a threat from 40 yards out as he is from 6. Tello was instructed to use his pace to beat defenders, which he did quite well and in fact, the youngAi??SpaniardAi??made good runs but lacked the finishing required.

Dani Alves should almost be banned from shooting. Although he has a powerful shot, the Brazilian is used as a full back for a reason. He is capable of playing up front and providing the width and crosses but again isn’t enough of a goal threat for an opponentai??i??s defenders to be worried.

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Messi - shackled all night

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The other options Pep Guardiola was left with was Alexis Sanchez and Pedro Rodriguez. The former picked up a knock against Chelsea and was deemed unfit to play the entire 90 minutes. When he was introduced as a substitute, Barcelona became infinitely more dangerous. Alexis has the work rate to harass defenders, the finishing skills and the pace to beat players. His biggest attribute, however, is his ability to make lateral runs that cause havoc in an opponentai??i??s defense. Sanchez scored the equalizer but that wasnai??i??t enough.

Which brings us to that other part of the field. Barcelona simply lacked a tactically brilliant defender like Eric Abidal (although Puyol was great, there wasn’t enough support for him). The French defender is the only player in Barcelonaai??i??s backline with the pace, aggression and physique to keep up with the likes of Ronaldo. Moreover, Barcaai??i??s number 22 has that defensive intelligence which players like Mascherano simply cannot haveAi?? (not yet atleast).

Abidalai??i??s instinct to know when to step forward to cut off a pass or when to take a step back to give himself space and time to stop the runner was sorely missed. Mesut Ozilai??i??s left foot did the rest and Cristiano Ronaldo provided the end product.

Although people might choose to blame Victor Valdes, fact is, in football goals scored are because the entire team was involved and goals conceded is the fault of the entire team as well. Most keepers would have lost a battle against Ronaldo and many more will in the future.

Barcelonaai??i??s gameplan was good but they simply lacked the personnel to pull it off. There just wasnai??i??t enough left in the tank. Something they will look to fix against Chelsea on Tuesday with the inclusion of Pedro (who is more a goal threat even when out of form than Tello based on experience) and Alexis (who should be fit for the match) as Lionel Messiai??i??s support.

Top Performers ai??i?? Alexis Sanchez, Carles Puyol and Lionel Messi

Real Madrid Strategy And Gameplay

How They Started?

[4-2-3-1] ai??i?? Casillas; Arbeloa, Ramos, Pepe, Coentrao;Alonso, Khedira;Benzema, Ozil, Di Maria;Cristiano

If Barcelona had a gameplan and couldnai??i??t execute it, Real Madrid had one which worked perfectly. Few things stick out for Madridai??i??s strategy for the match last night.

  1. Mourinho learnt from Barcelonaai??i??s loss against Chelsea. In that he chose to sit deep and defend with a sole striker upfront.
  2. The sole striker was Ronaldo. Like mentioned above, the Copa Del Rey final that Madrid won showed that Ronaldo has the ability to use his height, pace and finishing ability to be able to play as the striker. Again, why did Mourinho wait so long to do that?
  3. Although Madrid defended deep and hardly had possession, even to the point that they were just hoofing the ball up field for large parts of the game. Mourinho, finally realized that his “world against us” philosophy only forced his defenders to get riled up and make silly mistakes which in turn resulted in his players being sent off. This time, however, Madrid were disciplined.
  4. Frustrate Barcelona. People might look down upon the antics of Chelseaai??i??s Drogba but nobody cares as long as they get the result. In fact that is the only justification. Everybody from Casillas to Pepe to Ozil took their time on every free kick,corner and goal kick to run down the clock, regain defensive positions and stem the flow of the game.

This match can be seen as a blueprint on how to beat the Catalans or atleast stand a chance. However, that said, Barcelona are a different team with a full squad. In the first leg of the Spanish Supercup, two moments of genius earned a visibly unfit Barcelona a draw in the Santiago Bernabeu. The reasons? David Villa with a wonder strike from outside the box and Lionel Messi doing what he does.

In last nightai??i??s match, Mourinho used his team and set them up perfectly to beat an opponent who looked tired and lacked in attack and defence. Sergio Ramos was brilliant in stepping away from the backline to shackle Lionel Messi. Although one can question the tactics since Messi still managed to get away from his markers on occasion and make dangerous passes. Unfortunately for the Catalans, there was nobody to score. That said, fans of the Capital side will be happy and maybe a bit relieved to see Ramos play such a mature game. There were none of the cynical tackles from earlier Clasicoai??i??s and that is definitely the way for Madrid to follow henceforth.

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Cristiano - calm down everyone, i'm here!

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Then there is Ozil who along with Ronaldo were the only real attacking threats Madrid used. The teamai??i??s second goal arrived via a brilliant counter attack with Ronaldo showing his ability to stay calm and finish. Real Madrid chose to cede possession to the Catalans knowing that this was a battle they simply could not win. Xavi, Busquets and Iniesta did what only they can do by keeping the ball well but without the necessary support upfront they were unable to make inroads and to use that possession effectively.

Lionel Messi was forced to drop deep, thanks to some solid defending from Pepe and Ramos, to help keep the ball and make a final pass. Arbeloa, to his credit, did extremely well to keep Tello (who is much faster) in check and defended well. Many Madridstas have recently taken to blaming Arbeloa claiming he isnai??i??t good enough to play in the squad but the significance of having a full back who is defensive minded (atleast compared to Marcelo) cannot be understated.

Chelsea will look to perfect their strategy by watching Madridai??i??s game. However it would be extremely dangerous to look too deep into this game. Players like Pepe and Ramos have infinitely more experience in playing against Messi and co. Although Terry and Cahill were brilliant in Stamford Bridge, the Camp Nou is a wider and longer pitch and will now have a Barcelona squad looking for revenge. With 100000 fans joining them in their search for retribution, expect Pedro, Sanchez, Messi and Iniesta to be far more incisive and baying for blood.

Top Performers ai??i?? Sergio Ramos, Mesut Ozil, Cristiano Ronaldo

TheHardTackleai??i??s Player Of The Match

Mesut Ozil (Real Madrid)

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Man of the match

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It takes a player with character to witness his team have only 30% possession and yet have the presence of mind to thread a pass like the one he did to Ronaldo for Real Madridai??i??s second goal. It can be argued that the German International is Madridai??i??s most important player considering that they simply donai??i??t have a player of similar ability (and composure) in the squad. If Ronaldo does not score a goal, Madrid can still look to Benzema and Higuain but Ozil is irreplaceable.

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6 Responses to “Barcelona 1 ai??i?? 2 Real Madrid ai??i?? Post Mortem: Catalans Finally Lose”

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  1. Vipin says:

    You really are a true Cule in the mold of Xavi, Alves,Busquets and Messi. Hypocritical, ungracious and blowing your own trumpet. You conveniently forgot the hold up play of Benzema and saw only Ozil and CR7.
    Football is very different from “keep”-ball. Forgot to mention that Barca had no shots on target in the entire first half. And Tello=Villa? LOLZ

    • Brock says:

      You seem a true Madridista in that you are trying to insult the author who is praising your team. Your criticism of possession football doesn’t stand because the world has been witness to the success of Barca as well as the Spanish national team over the last five years.

  2. Karthik Palaniappan says:

    Barca miss Villa so much. It’s as plain as a nose on a face…

  3. Rakshit says:

    Barca bashed at the camp nou…. Putting the right step forward towards returning to the crown. Mesut Ozil take a bow…. Four defenders absolutely top draw. Xavi’s expression after being subbed….. priceless…. and ronaldo well is…. ronaldo 😛 HALA MADRID!!!!! And the author well is any other cule who often resorts to baseless pontifications of barca….Chelsea taught madrid a lesson??? chelsea played differently than real. only similar thing was that barca’s keep ball was going according to their plan. Barcelona did not have one single shot on goal in the whole of first half… whereas they had god knows how many in the first half against chelsea…. barcelona were outplayed and if u think that dominating possession is dominating a game then please wake up……and u were the one calling tello a plan b and i see how beautifully it worked out for barca…lolllzzzz!!!! Messi is a true magician he was seen at the start and then just dissappeared. that is two matches in a row for the irritatingly called “greatest player ever” player.

  4. Real2 says:

    You’re certainly trying very hard to put down Mourinho. Has it ever occurred to you that the old guard at Chelsea consulted and had many conversations with Mourinho on how to beat Barcelona? Mourinho was one of the very rare coaches/managers who managed to beat Barcelona, most notably with Inter when they went on to win the CL crown. Mourinho knows the Chelsea old guard too well, he knows their strengths and weaknesses, and he has himself led them against Barcelona while at Chelsea. At Chelsea, Mourinho had evenly balanced games against Barca. At Inter, Mourinho had the players who were very strong at the back and the frontline were quick at counters. At Real Madrid, well, this team is very different from the aforementioned two. Madrid don’t have comparable defenders, and Madrid must play spectacular football, and Madrid is on average younger and less experienced than Chelsea, Inter and Barca. That’s why Madrid had to play so many times to know how to play Barca. That’s why the formation and setup didn’t surprise at Camp Nou. Because by now, the team with all the new players would’ve learnt how to play Barca with some confidence, calmness and experience. And that’s why the Madrid team is now able to express its quality.

  5. Retno says:

    Actually, Madrid did not defend deep as Chelsea did. They played high defensive line as they have done in some of previous el clasicos, but now with a lot more focus, patient and discipline. Look at their average position in this game, vs Chelsea’s against Barcelona in the first leg of CL:

    Madrid’s average position: http://soccernet.espn.go.com/gamecast?id=323721&cc=5901

    Chelsea (1st leg): http://soccernet.espn.go.com/gamecast?id=340832&cc=5901

    And their results were also very different. Despite very low possession, Madrid created exactly the same amount of goal scoring chances (14) as Barcelona but more shots on goal (6) and corner kicks (7). They were creating chances and just more effective with the ball.

    Also, you mentioned the CDR final last season… Madrid also played high defensive line and created some really good chances in the first half (Pepe header from Oezil’s cross) while Barcelona didn’t even register one shot on goal (If I recall it correctly), but they pushed too much in that half and couldn’t keep up their pressing after the break.

    So, in conclusion, Mourinho did NOT copy Chelsea’s tactic vs Barcelona. He used his own game plan and tactic, the difference is this time the players did it perfectly. I think if they wanted to, they could have played more aggresively like in the 2nd leg of CDR semifinal this season (where Madrid actually controlled much of the game and had a very good chance to win) but it was a wise choice to save some energy since they have another CL game in just 4 days.