FC Barcelona's Future Post-Clasico: Leo Messi, the Defense and David Villa
For all the hype that we always get from the media—Bleacher Report included—saying it’s all about Cristiano Ronaldo vs. Lionel Messi, this may be the game that actually lived up to the hype.
The game started off fantastically for Los Blancos, as they were aggressive throughout the first half. Ronaldo found Karim Benzema inside the box via a great cross, but the Frenchman shot wide. Sergio Ramos nearly put Real in front in the 19th minute, but his header just went right of the post, and Andres Iniesta fired just a bit too high in the 21st minute.
Real struck first, as Mesut Ozil found Benzema inside the box, who then passed it to an open CR7. Ronaldo sent a bullet low past Victor Valdes for the lead.
Jose Mourinho’s team should have been up 2-0 just a few minutes, later as Sami Khedira found Angel Di Maria inside the box. Di Maria passed it to a wide-open Benzema, who hit the post. Di Maria tried to score off the rebound, but missed.
Barcelona’s “faux defense” was terrible, yet Real Madrid couldn’t take advantage of it—and it would cost them. Lionel Messi equalized in the 31st minute when Pepe could not clear the ball.
After the game, Pepe said that “Barcelona did not deserve the first goal.” What a crybaby! He messed up on that play and paid for it. But I guess complaining and whining must be a Portuguese football tradition.
At the press conference, Tito Vilanova made fun of Pepe when he said, "You could make a video out of all the times Pepe kicked us." Funny thing is, there is a video on YouTube of Pepe's greatest hits, pun intended.
In the second half, Ozil looked like he was fouled inside the box by Sergio Busquets. A few minutes later, Andres Iniesta looked to be tripped up inside the box by Pepe. Personally, I think both plays were penalties, but the referee saw no foul on either play.
Xabi Alonso fouled Messi a few yards outside the box, and a free kick was given. What came out of it was one of the best golazos in recent Clásico history. Messi curled the ball perfectly over the wall of Real players and beat Iker Casillas’ reach for the 2-1 lead. It was simply a case of Messi once again blessing us earthlings with his magic.
Cristiano Ronaldo injured his shoulder in the 65th minute as he tried to bicycle-kick. But a minute later, Ronaldo made himself and all of Real Madrid feel better, as Mesut Ozil found the open CR7, who slipped it past Valdes to equalize. After the game, reports came out that Ronaldo sprained his shoulder. It’s undetermined how long Ronaldo will be out, if at all.
The final 20 minutes were mostly dominated by Barcelona, but they were not able to find the back of the net. The last great shot at winning was by Pedro, as he just missed beating Casillas in stoppage time.
Final: FC Barcelona 2–2 Real Madrid. What a great game! We saw the two best players in the world give us delicious football. That’s right—delicious is the best way to describe this game.
The only thing that would have made the game better was if at the end both Messi and Ronaldo busted out Gangnam Style on the pitch. Like in the music video I can see Ronaldo being the guy in the yellow suit while Messi is PSY dancing.
With the tie, Barcelona remained unbeaten in the season and eight points ahead of Real in the Liga table. If it felt like this was more a win for Barça than an actual tie, that’s because it was. Real needed the win and came very close to blowing out Barcelona in the first half, but failed to take advantage of a weak Barcelona defense.
I don’t understand how some Barcelona fans are upset that the team didn’t win. With the way Real Madrid played in the first half, the scoreboard could have easily read 3-1 Real at halftime. Culés should be happy that the team got a tie. Again, it keeps the lead in La Liga at eight points.
As for Real Madrid and their fans, they should be very disappointed with the draw. Not just because of the obvious that they didn’t get the win, but because of the missed opportunities in first half.
As I mentioned, Real could have been up a goal or two heading into the break, but bad misses such as Ramos’ header and Benzema’s miss inside the box allowed Barça to stay in the game.
But the most important reason why Real Madrid should feel disappointed is because they were facing a very weak Barcelona defense with no true CB, and yet Real could not take full advantage.
Ronaldo did his part; how did Benzema or Gonzalo Higuain not test Mascherano, and especially Adriano, more? Completely unacceptable, and one of the reasons Real Madrid are eight points back—they’ve lacked the power to finish off teams in La Liga this season.
A 2-2 draw was a just scoreline for the game.
One of the things to take away from this game is the fact that Barcelona may win La Liga with this “faux defense,” as I call it; but they will not win the Champions League. While Mascherano and Adriano did not do a terrible job in El Clásico, the defense was sloppy many times. I’m not going to blame Adriano 100-percent for this, as he is not a true CB.
Is it now finally safe to say that Barcelona needs to buy a proven CB this January? What is it going to take for Sandro Rosell to spend money? It’s reaching the point where Culés are repeating themselves in complaining about the CB spot.
So let me say it again because the message seems to not be getting through: either buy a quality CB this upcoming transfer window, or at least give Marc Bartra a shot. This is getting ridiculous. and it is quite frankly embarrassing that this is happening at Barcelona.
Don’t get it twisted: It’s ridiculous, but not surprising.
Carles Puyol or Gerard Pique would not have made a difference in this game, in my opinion. More so Puyol, because as I mentioned in my previous article, Carles Puyol is no longer a regular starting-XI player for this team. He lacks speed, naturally due to age, and he would have gotten beat by Ronaldo, Benzema or any of the Real forwards.
Alex Song might have been a safer bet for the Clásico, but Tito wanted to be speedy and thus went with Adriano. Song has been a nice signing, but he’s not a natural CB.
And that’s exactly what FC Barcelona has needed for years now.
So now it may come down to this: whom should FC Barcelona pursue at CB in January? I’ll have an article on this subject later this week.
Martin Montoya proved his merit in this game. Martin had to come in for Dani Alves, who left with a hamstring injury in the first half. It looked like Real might try and test Montoya via the attack, but they did not, and Martin seemed very comfortable in the game. His best moment was when he hit the crossbar in the final minutes of the game. What a shot he took, and what a golazo it would have been!
As I’ve mentioned before, I expect Dani Alves to be sold within the next two years. Dani is a beloved player at the Camp Nou. However, Martin Montoya is more than ready to be a starter, plus it’s the best business decision to make. At 29, Dani is in his prime, and it’ll be best to sell him before age 32—before his speed declines and he moves to the penultimate part of his career.
Dani is expected to be out three weeks. But Martin Montoya is more than ready take over the RB/RWB position, for now and in the future.
But what many Culés were tweeting about is why Tito Vilanova didn’t put in David Villa. El guaje has played well when in, and he has a history of playing well against Real Madrid. I honestly don’t know why Tito didn’t bring in Villa, but it was very disappointing to see that him kept on the bench.
Perhaps one of the reasons Villa was kept out was because Pedro has always played well against Real and thus needed to play the entire game. Alexis Sanchez came in for Cesc Fabregas, but many feel it should have been Villa instead. Personally, I would have gone with Villa for Cesc and kept out Sanchez, but that’s just me.
What fans need to fully understand about David Villa’s future at FC Barcelona is that David Villa does not have a future at FC Barcelona.
At 30, Villa has plenty of game left. But at 30, Villa has many miles on him and is in the latter part of his prime. I believe Barcelona will sell David Villa next summer to, a) give Villa the opportunity to be a regular starter with another team, and most importantly, b) to make room for Neymar.
Sandro Rosell has been planning to sign Neymar for years now, and his target next summer will be the Brazilian. However, Rosell doesn’t need to sell Villa for money purposes in the Neymar situation, as Barcelona will have enough money to sign Neymar next summer, regardless of selling Villa.
I love David Villa, but it’s safe to say he won’t be part of the team next year. Villa deserves better, and he should go to a team that will make him a starter. Don’t forget that Barcelona has their striker of the future in Gerard Deulofeu on the B squad, and he’s about a year away from earning a full-time first-squad spot.
Tito is disappointing me by not even putting Cristian Tello on the roster for El Clásico. Maybe he wanted to give the kid a rest, but I think it was more that Tito had his starters and substitutes set and wasn't going to change anything.
While it’s Barcelona and Real Madrid’s Liga to win or lose, both teams have another team in La Liga that they will have to worry about: Atletico Madrid. Radamel Falcao has led his team to a fantastic start this season, including winning the UEFA Super Cup against Chelsea last month. Atletico are currently tied with FC Barcelona atop La Liga's table with 19 points.
As of right now, El Atleti doesn’t have a kit sponsor. The way they've been playing so far this season, I’m sure that’ll change soon.
For me, if Atletico Madrid wants to prove to the football world that they are a serious contender for the Liga title, they need to beat either Barça or Real. Not tie—win. Atletico plays Real at the Santiago Bernabeu on December 2 and will visit the Camp Nou on December 16.
Barcelona will head on the road after the FIFA international dates. Barça will take on Deportivo La Coruña on October 20. One week later, they will head to Madrid to take on Rayo Vallecano.
All Barcelona fans should feel good about the 2-2 tie in El Clásico. You've got to give credit to Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid for their solid performance, as they gave it their all. But this year’s Real are not the finishers that they were last season.
This Barcelona team have already proven this season that they can come back and finish games. The offense is more than enough to win La Liga, as well as the Copa Del Rey. But the defense is still very weak—both from injuries and lack of true CBs—and will have issues in the Champions League, where defense is more needed and emphasized.
If Tito Vilanova and Sandro Rosell want to win the Champions League, they need to go out and buy a solid CB this January transfer window. The market may be slim, but they have to go out and try to make a deal. I’d say they need to give one of the young Masia CBs a shot, but I’m tired of repeating myself.
The win would have been great, but the 2-2 tie in El Clásico keeps Real Madrid eight points away in La Liga, and puts Real at the mercy of Barça, as they will need to rely on other teams to try and slow down El Blaugrana in La Liga.
Yes, there is still plenty of Liga left. But having and keeping Real Madrid at the mercy of Lionel Messi and FC Barcelona for the foreseeable future is always a win for Barça and all Culés.
Visca el Barça i visca Catalunya!
Xoel, The Voice of FC Barcelona on Bleacher Report.
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