Two down, two to go!By: Jordan | April 20th, 2011
Well it’s been a nervy first two games, only two more to go. Can my heart handle it? Probably not. Before it undoubtedly explodes, I will tell you all what I have taken away from the first two Clasicos.
1) Pepe deserves whatever contract he wants. Seriously, how huge has the Portuguese monster been the past two games? He seems to almost single handedly nullify the tiki taka that so many teams failed to counter. Even when he was booked early for what seemed to be a non-bookable offense, he maintained his cool for the rest of the Copa final (even over time!) and anchored the center of the midfield. He even got forward a few times in an attempt to inspire a counter. I feel as though his performance in the Copa alone deserves a big fat contract and hopefully Perez saw that as well.
2) The small chink we seemed to expose in the Liga clash now seems to be a gaping chasm the size of the sarlacc. Mourinho’s genius (yes, genius) had the perfect strategy for the Copa final and had Madrid not played out the entirety of the weekend clash down a man, we’d probably be hailing him for that performance as well. We know what it takes to beat the Barca beast, but unfortunately they know just how to get through us: dive and fake death every time Pepe tackles. It’s pretty simple, when Pepe goes in to challenge the ball, Barca will writhe on the ground and scream bloody murder for cards every chance they get. Hopefully, we get some no nonsense referees in the upcoming tie that will see through all the milarky.
3) Barcelona players get treated differently by referees. As I mentioned earlier, Pepe’s card seemed a bit light to me, the kind of thing that goes unpunished in Madrid yet would be vilified in Barcelona. I will say I have no idea how Dani Alves has gone two matches without so much as a scolding from a referee, let alone a yellow. If taking down Marcelo in the box and the seven tackles in the Copa (probably more, I stopped counting at seven) aren’t enough for some type of booking, I’m not sure anything is. Seriously, it’s an issue.
4) I believe the saying goes, “form is temporary, class is permanent.” And boy, did Ronaldo show us all how true that anecdote is. He went from goat to hero in about 1.75 seconds as the ball flew off his slicked hair and past the leaping ponytailed Pinto. Yea he looked like trash for some time and duffed a couple of good chances, but the boy is clearly the leader of our line and for the entirety of the second half was the only one receiving long balls in hopes of springing a counter.
5) Barcelona need to call in every expert in the land to ensure Carles Puyol’s health for the Champion’s League tie. The man without a shadow of a doubt turns a shaky defense into a somewhat decent one. Mascherano is a halfway decent replacement, but he doesn’t have the ability to lock down counters and shut down players like good ol Horse Face. Puyol also gives Barca a little bit more bite when the physical confrontations inevitably arise. Honsetly, who fears that goofy Pique gives people when he tries to argue, you can tell Sergio Ramos has none of it. Every team needs an enforcer, and as we saw in the Copa, Barca were bullied around a little too much for their liking.
6) Mourinho has an interesting time ahead of him. He claimed that his goals were to only win the Copa this season, but he still has a vital CL leg to play. Anyone that has anything to do with RM know how important the Decima is, even though the subject seems to be relatively hush hush right. If the season were to end right this instant with Barca at the top of the table and Real with the cup, Mou will lean back in his office chair and say, “mission accomplished, onto next year” and will tweak his squad accordingly and chase the Decima. However, we all know how managers are treated in Madrid. A CL against our arch-rivals has thrown quite the wrench in Mou’s methodical plan for his RM stint, as a knockout at the hands of our fierce rivals will not be met well. I believe that if we were knocked out by someone other than Barca the season would not be considered a loss, but now, I’m not so sure.
7) The Champion’s League tie will be massive and probably bloody. We all know that Barca will train their sights directly on the upcoming tie. The one advantage we have leading up to the first leg is that Barcelona actually have to care about their Liga matches still as the Liga is still theirs to lose. The last thing they need is to drop points at the weekend and then think about going into a white hot Bernabeu only to have to try to salvage the league the following weekend. Ideas like that can really foul up a player’s brain and I for one am thankful we have the master of psychological warfare at the helm.
Well those are the big ones I think, post down below what you took away from the first two of four matches against our rivals. I know I didn’t list anywhere near everything I took from the match, but frankly I’m too excited to. HALA MADRID!