Morbo Minute–El Clasico Aftermath

Most of the focus over the weekend was on El Clasico.  I spent some time over the weekend writing some initial thoughts and the early part of the week reading what others thought about the result.

Kxevin at Barcelona Football Blog has done it again, a post of passion, awareness and realism.  Pep’s team has been winning for almost four years and now two losses in two big matches may finally start to put the winning cycle in context.  Maybe Barcelona will only win three trophies in the first half of the season (Spanish Super Cup, European Super Cup, FIFA Club World Championship) and not win the ones that really matter, but that should only make fans, neutrals, and haters alike understand how amazing this ride has been.  And again, who is to say they don’t rebound and win the lot next year?  Only when the cycle is over, and no one will know that until long after it’s over, can we truly analyze where this team fits in the pantheon of Barca teams, Spanish champions and European powers.

Sid Lowe saw Real Madrid’s victory as an exorcism, carried out by the one man who seems to be able to defeat the eternal rival—Jose Mourinho.  The title is back in Madrid, the result of money, determination, and tactics. Madrid may win the Double and start their own cycle, but time will tell.

Phil Ball saw Madrid’s win as the mark which signals the change in power, as Barca’s 6-2 in 2009 announced the dawning of a new age.  Might be a touch over-dramatic and we may not know for a while, but it was match in which everything coalesced forMadrid, possibly setting up the club for years of success.  Now the question is how will FCB respond against Chelsea?

Graham Hunter praised Madrid for finding a system and a maturity that has allowed them to go to Barcelona and win, and win in a fashion that was not ugly or provocative or cynical.  Los Blancos simply followed a game plan and Barcelona—fatigued, short of ideas, and wasteful—could not overcome it.  Mourinho has done his part in the second season and the next chapter should be quite interesting.

Tim Stannard summed up the three part plan of hiring Mourinho:

The first was to restore the reputation of a club that was becoming a bit of a joke inSpainandEuropeand get it back to being a competitive force once again. That was accomplished last season with a Copa del Rey victory and a Champions League semi-final appearance. Part two was to overcomeBarcelona’s stranglehold inSpainand win back the title. The final chapter must surely be a Champions League victory.

This season he has overseen the most La Liga goals scored by a team or an individual, forging a team that has been disciplined (for the most part) and inspired (due to a resurgent Benzema and undeniable Ronaldo) to win the league.  Another effort like the  one at the Camp Nou against Bayern and Mourinho could deliver the tenth European title.

As for the rest of the league, the relegation spots are all but confirmed.  Villarreal are six points clear of the relegation with four matches to play and should be safe, barring an unimaginable collapse.  Again, the drama of the season is around the European places. Valencia (3rd) and Malaga (4th) play Sunday, in a match that could determine third once and for all.  Or open it up to the group just below: Athletic, Atletico Madrid, and Levante.

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Pods

Elisa from Forza Football had Thomas Conn on from InsideSpanishFootball, a blog that I recently found.  They covered a couple of issues including Spanish teams great performances in Europe, the tax issue hanging over the league, and the concern over third party ownership.  They wrapped up with predictions on how things will end up in all competitions and possible transfers this off season.

Sid Lowe was Beyond the Pitch in the hours after the El Clasico.  He thought Pep had some responsibility in the defeat with his team selection and his tactics.  Ozil’s improvement at Real Madrid was discussed as well as Pique’s in and out season.  Sid also factored in the number of games FCB has played over the last couple of years combined with National Team commitments.

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