El Clasico – Analysis

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TKTG takes a look at the best articles and analysis covering the Barcelona vs Real Madrid match which ended in a 2-2 draw.

Match Report: Goal.com

“Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo were both in scintillating form as Barcelona and Real Madrid played out an enthralling 2-2 draw at Camp Nou in the first Liga Clasico of this season.

Despite coming as just the seventh fixture of the season, the match was touted as having a potentially huge impact on the final Liga outcome. With Madrid in need of a win, Ronaldo got the club off to the perfect start as he silenced the crowd with his sixth consecutive Clasico goal.

But a brace from Messi, including a sumptuous second-half free kick, put the Blaugrana in the driving seat. However, the last had not been heard of Ronaldo and he capitalized on a disorganized defense to equalize 25 minutes from time.”

Read the rest of the match report on the goal.com website.

Analysis

Two completely different footballing philosophies, each brilliantly displayed. And the two most outstanding strikers in the world seeming to be humming the old Irving Berlin number “Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better,” as Lionel Messi and Ronaldo exchanged stunning goals, invention, heart-stopping moments, courage, passion — sheer joy.

…When the Messi free kick (the second he’s rocketed past Iker Casillas this season) screamed into the bottom side panel of the Madrid net, there was a primal roar from the 98,000 Catalans packed into this grand old arena. But my attention was drawn to the celebrations of the Barca bench. They all leapt out in exaltation and ran halfway down the pitch in joy. And what they were doing — these experienced, hardened pros who have “seen it all” — was holding their heads in amazement and turning to each other with expressions like: “Did you see that, did you SEE what he just did?”

…No messing around, lots of movement, and shark-like when they smelled Barca blood. Real Madrid have my respect for the degree to which they have perfected their playing style — when it works, like this, it’s stimulating to watch.

…The Portuguese, so misrepresented in my view, so often unfairly criticised, was already properly in pain from an exuberant attempt either to emulate Icarus or to score with an overhead kick by the time he ripped through to collect Mesut Ozil’s assist pass and score. Again. Under pressure, 2-1 down, in danger of dropping 11 points behind Barcelona in the league, in pain … no problem to Ronaldo. I like that. Don’t you?

First, there was ample proof, for me at least, that when these two sides play somewhere near their best they are just that: the best.

Second, it’s clear that Mourinho has had a great deal of justification when he’s said in recent interviews that part of his annoyance is that his players can “do it when they want.” They can.

Third, there seems to me to be a massive gap in significance between an 11-point lead (double figures in October) compared to eight. It makes Barcelona massive favourites to win the league, but it ain’t over. Not even close.

Read the rest of the article written by Graham Hunter over on ESPN.

Tactical Analysis – Zonal Marking

This was a simpler tactical battle than recent Clasicos. There was no hint of Barcelona playing three at the back, as they did frequently under Guardiola in these matches, despite injury problems at the back. It was a clear back four, with Busquets staying in midfield rather than dropping between the centre-backs.

Real were a simple 4-2-3-1, and while they’ve often looked more like 4-4-1-1 or 4-5-1 without the ball in this fixture under Mourinho, tonight they made more of an effort to retain their shape. Cristiano Ronaldo and Mesut Ozil stayed high up the pitch while Angel Di Maria was dragged deeper, but obvious battles were apparent across the pitch in an open encounter, with both sides having a spare man at the back. Xabi Alonso moved higher up the pitch than usual, trying to press Xavi Hernandez – although the Barcelona captain remained in a deep position close to Sergio Busquets, so Alonso gradually stood off.

Barcelona Approach

…The game was not so much about the midfield battle, which Barcelona were always likely to dominate by virtue of having extra numbers, but about what the teams were attempting in the final third.

…Iniesta’s unusual positioning was a key factor in Barcelona’s moves. Alvaro Arbeloa tried to stick very tight to him – often tracking him well into central midfield zones – which meant space opened up for Jordi Alba to break into.

…but Pedro Rodriguez was the only man making runs in behind the defence – Fabregas was bursting from a deeper, more obvious position, while Iniesta drifted infield rather than towards goal.

Real Madrid Approach

Real carried out their gameplan more effectively than Barcelona in the first half. First, there was the shape without the ball – which was positive and high up the pitch. As the game went on it became more scrappy, but in the opening minutes Real won the ball cleanly and launched quick attacks.

Benzema’s finishing was poor, but his hold-up play was impressive and he helped encourage his teammates up the pitch – although Real often played directly, they also got numbers into the final third and put pressure on Barcelona


The game was played a decent standard, yet there were only five shots on target – and four goals. This fixture is often cast as Messi versus Ronaldo, ignoring their talented teammates and the overall tactical contest, but if there has ever been a Clasico that was primarily about the goalscoring of those two players, this was it.

Read the rest of the tactical analysis by Zonal Marking – Barcelona 2-2 Real Madrid: two goals each for Ronaldo and Messi

Fans View – Real Madrid-  “What if?”

Had Madrid lost and allowed Barcelona to make it a record-breaking seven straight wins to open their league campaign, the title would likely have been destined for a return to Catalonia. Had Los Blancos secured back-to-back league wins at the Camp Nou, it would have thrown them right back into the race to retain their crown. 

“Who’s come out on top in that one?” was the immediate postmatch question. Was it Barcelona for retaining their eight-point gap at the top and stopping their bitter rivals getting any closer? Was it Madrid for not letting Barca pull away and taking an 11-point lead that even die-hard Madridistas would admit to being a massive task for their side? … Madrid may be no closer to the Blaugrana after another pulsating Clasico, but defeat for Jose Mourinho’s men would have had a bigger impact on the title race than them failing to win.

…The obvious point of reference — and another “what-if” moment that was crucial in the game — came in the first half, with Los Blancos 1-0 up. I’m talking about Karim Benzema’s miss. Mourinho’s men were superb for the first 25 minutes and were left wondering just how they went into half-time on level terms rather than two or three goals to the good.

…Mourinho and his men must have already liked the look of Barcelona’s defence going into the game, with Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol out injured. Javier Mascherano and Alex Song seemed to be the likely choices, but Vilanova went for Adriano at centre back. Mourinho must have been well aware his men could cause plenty of problems at the back. There was a sense of fear among the Barcelona faithful whenever Madrid attacked their makeshift defence. Things looked even better for the visitors when Daniel Alves went off injured and the less-experienced Martin Montoya took his place. Ronaldo must have been licking his lips.

…Defeat for Los Blancos would have sent them into the international break pondering how they were going to claw an 11-point gap back on Barcelona… As it stands, they can now go into the break with the chance of returning to build on their vastly improved form over the last few weeks.

Read ‘What-ifs’ for Madrid, but draw will do by Nicholas Rigg

Fans View – Barca

This was certainly not your typical Barcelona performance, mainly due to the fact that Real Madrid largely impeded their midfield buildup with their constant hassling and aggressive pressure. There really was nothing between both sides, with every player on the pitch giving their all for their respective clubs.

Contrary to what many expected, Real Madrid actually tried to attack to win the game, with Jose Mourinho moving on from the ultra-defensive formation he has used against Barcelona in the past. A positive decision which gave us a highly entertaining, competitive match.

…Much has been written about the great rivalry between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Judging by the way they both carried their respective teams forward, it can’t be denied that we are talking about two truly outstanding players who will undoubtedly compete for the Ballon d’Or for many years to come.

…The Barcelona philosophy is defending through attacking but they simply can’t suffer this much whenever they lose possession. Their lack of height truly causes my heart to sink whenever they concede a simple corner. Not good enough, not at this level.

…Tito Vilanova – 6 – His decision to play Adriano was surprising, to say the least, but it sort of paid off. I must say I am still wondering why David Villa and Cristian Tello finished the game as unused substitutes though, their late inclusion may have tipped the balance of the match in Barcelona’s favour.

Read Golden Messi ensures the eight-point gap prevails by Francesc Tomas

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2 Comments on “El Clasico – Analysis”

  1. fantasyyirma October 8, 2012 at 1:46 pm #

    nice article mate!

  2. Humaid October 11, 2012 at 6:32 pm #

    I think Real attacking was a no-brainer. The reason that Mourinho let loose his dogs of war was because the Barca back-line was decimated before the game (and further hit during). This was the ideal opportunity for Madrid to take 3-points off the lead and hit Barca’s confidence hard. The fact that the match was entertaining doesn’t obscure the bigger picture – Madrid blew their chance to win, and I think that it will come back to bite them. And here’s what’s more (this may come back to bite ME), I don’t even think Madrid will finish in the top 2.

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