Well, how this Liga has turned.
Many could have predicted that FC Barcelona would win their first four games. Tito Vilanova’s men have played well on offense and a bit shaky at-times on defense, but, overall, the team has done its job and have 12 points and the lead in La Liga.
While a successful Barcelona start to the La Liga season is not surprising, no one—and I mean NO ONE—saw Barça’s eternal rivals, Real Madrid, only having four points after four games.
No one—not even the biggest FC Barcelona fan—thought Real Madrid would lose two out of their first four games.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to disrespect Getafe or Sevilla, as they are tough teams and are capable of upsetting any team, including Barcelona. But with all due respect to those teams, Real Madrid is far superior in talent and has a superior manager in Jose Mourinho.
That being said, Getafe and Sevilla showed all of us that talent doesn’t always win, that the number of trophies a manager has in his resume doesn’t matter and that anything can happen in football.
And that anything has happened for Real Madrid.
Real’s 1-0 loss to Sevilla on Saturday is the team’s second-consecutive loss and leaves them eight points behind FC Barcelona in La Liga standings.
To put this into perspective, think of this: Real Madrid has lost eight points in La Liga already. Last season, the historic 100-point Real Madrid team didn’t lose eight points in La Liga until December 10th.
Did I mention that this 2012-13 Real team is essentially the same team as last season’s historic team?
Will the “real” Real Madrid team please stand up?
No Barcelona fan is crying a river about Real’s struggles, as it’s all part of the rivalry. Last season when Barça began to fall apart, Madridistas celebrated and mocked Culés as el blaugrana lost La Liga, culminating with the 2-1 Real Madrid victory in the Camp Nou.
Well, as usual in this rivalry, the tables have turned.
After the loss to Sevilla, Jose Mourinho talked to the media about his team. But apparently, the team must have been stolen or they ran away from Mou, because he said he has no team.
“At the moment, I have no team,” said Jose. He added on, “For me it's about the state of our collective spirit.”
“No team”? “Collective spirit”? What is going on? So when did their collective spirit leave? It looks like they had it when they defeated Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup a few weeks ago.
I’m sorry, but for me, Mou is making more excuses then he’s famously known for. He has a team—a terrific team for that matter. But does his team have “chemistry”?
Maybe that’s what Mou is trying to say. But even if that’s what Mou meant to say, it’s still an excuse because other than Luka Modric and Michael Essien, the core of this Real Madrid team has been together a few years now.
Perhaps it’s Jose Mourinho whose state of spirit is not well.
Something to think about.
This is the last thing this club needed coming out of the Cristiano Ronaldo “sad” saga, which may or may not be over. Florentino Perez must be scratching his head, as it just seems like this team shoots themselves in the foot, both on the pitch and off.
While Real Madrid were collapsing on the pitch at Sevilla, Barcelona players were watching the game and celebrating Sevilla’s win. According to Carles Escolan of Radio Marca (Spain) via his twitter account, the Barça players were clapping and cheering, saying “Vamos, mi Sevilla” (Let’s go, my Sevilla), which is one of the Sevilla chants.
I agree with Escolan when he mentioned later on twitter that it has been a while since these Barcelona players have shown such happiness and emotion to the media.
Under Pep Guardiola, the Barça players were always taught to stay calm and not show too much emotion in seeing a rival lose. But now with Tito Vilanova at the helm, the players are relaxed and are able to express themselves and their emotions freely.
As much as I loved (and still love) Pep Guardiola, he tried too hard to be neutral, both in what he said in the media and even in the treatment of his players.
He couldn’t help it, that’s just how he is.
In my opinion, Pep worried too much about the media as well. He worried about what the media thought, said and would report about his team. He said he never cared, but I never bought it.
During those four years, players like Xavi and Victor Valdes—players who have been very vocal in the past—were not as vocal. Now with Tito in charge, all the players are loose, and the media and their “image” of FC Barcelona is not a concern as it was when Pep was in charge.
Let’s get back to Madrid.
I don’t think Real Madrid is going to struggle all season-long. This team is too talented, and they obviously know how to win. But one thing that I would be wondering if I was a Real fan is why does this team constantly shoot themselves in the foot?
And it’s not necessarily a Jose Mourinho thing.
Even under Manuel Pellegrini in the 2009-10 season, Real would have these kinds of games like they had last Saturday.
One thing I must emphasize is the comment made by Mourinho when he said he doesn’t have a team. Is it just me, or isn’t this the second time in his Real Madrid managing career that Mou thew his team under the bus like a Copa Del Rey trophy dropped by Sergio Ramos?
Please don’t give me the excuse of “He’s not the one that’s on the pitch playing. Stop blaming him.”
I’m not saying it’s his fault entirely, but it’s not about “blaming," it’s about “responsibility.” There’s a difference. I'm not blaming Mou for the drama, I'm just saying he shouldn't have thrown the team under the bus by saying he has no team.
Regardless of Jose's comment, this Real debacle is truly not all his fault.
Mou took responsibility if any of his players were not motivated. Mou did very well there. Unfortunately for Jose, some of his players are not responding to whatever his motivational tactics are.
Karim Benzema is still struggling terribly; Gonzalo Higuain missed plenty of chances against Sevilla; And Cristiano Ronaldo continues to act like the prima donna that he's always displayed of being—whining, complaining and showing his frustration towards his teammates for the whole world to see.
Mesut Ozil is also having a down season so far.
Real seems to not have the motivation need to win many Liga games. It just seems like their opponents have an intensity that Real lacks. It can't all be Mou's fault, can it?
Honestly, I think some Real Madrid players don't give a damn about Jose Mourinho and what he coaches. Some players have completely checked out and will not listen to him; Some players just flat-out don't like him at all, and some just don't like the football he preaches.
El Pais (Spain) football reporter Diego Torres went even further when asked about the state of Real Madrid. Torres believes the players have already thrown in the towel.
The players are very pessimistic. They believe that the league is practically lost and that (Jose) Mourinho will not finish the season.
The players are far more discouraged than last year. They have lost the stimulus they had before which was to win a title that had eluded them, and believe it is impossible to win the league playing under Mourinho because he is determined to play in a way that is no longer a surprise to Spanish teams.
Torres later suggested that Mou’s press conference comments could be hinting at his eventual departure.
Personally, I hope Mou goes nowhere.
Yes, he's an arrogant man with a Napoleon complex, but he makes the rivalry so much fun. His ego may be too big for all of this drama, but the players have plenty of responsibility in the drama as well. If Iker Casillas or Sergio Ramos has an issue with their manager or his strategies, they need to talk to him.
Mou may not want to listen, but an effort needs to be made by the players.
Has Mou finally lost the locker room? Or is it the players who are responsible for the mess in Madrid?
Who knows what will happen with this team this season and in the future.
Let me just say one last thing, if Real Madrid is down eight points or more heading into the October 7th Clasico at the Camp Nou, Real Madrid are essentially playing for their Liga defense. If Barcelona pulls out a victory that night, an 11-point lead will be too much, even for a team as strong as Real Madrid, to overcome.
Yes, there’s plenty of Liga left after that game, but let’s be realistic: 11 points is too much for any team to make up. Not to mention, they would have to try and catch up to a team with the world’s best player in Lionel Messi, and, arguably, the best midfield in the world in FC Barcelona.
Barça were down 12 points last season, and even with a historic season by Lionel Messi and all the talent the team had, 12 points was too much for Barcelona.
Real Madrid will face the same fate as well.
If all stays the same points-wise heading into El Clásico and Barcelona takes an 11-point lead with a win, La Liga is over for Real Madrid.
If history tells us anything, it tells us that La Liga is already over for Real Madrid. Los Blancos have never overcome a seven-or-more point deficit to win La Liga.
There’s always a first time for everything, though.
Real can definitely come back in points, and Barcelona is capable of slipping up prior to El Clásico. But if Barcelona defeats Real Madrid and Mourinho’s team goes down 11 points, there will not be a repeat championship for Madrid.
The question after that would become does Jose Mourinho stay or go after next season? Some people would say that the same could be asked of Cristiano Ronaldo.
For Real Madrid, this Liga season will be a continuous battle of trying to find stability. For FC Barcelona, this is a Liga season that is now, more than ever, theirs for the taking.
Real Madrid is a constant soap opera.
And all FC Barcelona and football fans are thankful for that.
Thanks for reading.
Remember, I will begin “FIFA Thursdays” every Thursday beginning September 27. I will be online from 10 p.m. to midnight ET playing against my readers.
So if you want to play against me and beat me at FIFA 13, I'm on Xbox 360 and my username is Xoel7. Find me there, as I look forward to beating many of you on FIFA 13.
And you can guess which team I’ll always pick.
It’s a small way of saying thanks for checking out my articles, and thanks for reading Bleacher Report.
Xoel, The Voice of FC Barcelona on Bleacher Report.
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