This year’s La Liga season promises to be the most exciting since…well, since last season. It is safe to assume that neither FC Barcelona nor Real Madrid will repeat their overall point haul.
While there has always been a huge gap in financial flexibility between Spain’s top two and the rest of the Primera Division, it isn’t as evident as in recent seasons.
FC Barcelona still dominate their opponents, but are lacking the final product. The Blaugrana are guilty of wasting a truckload of chances—chances they would have ruthlessly exploited mere months ago. What makes their case more curious is that with the acquisition of David Villa (and riddance of Zlatan Ibrahimovic), they should have become an even more efficient unit.
To be fair, David Villa isn’t missing a beat when he is playing with his new (“new” is a bit of stretch, he knows most of them through the national team already) teammates; his off-the-ball movement and work-rate are a definite improvement over Ibrahimovic. What’s worrisome is his apparent lack of fortune in front of goal.
With Villa misfiring and the increasing dependence on Xavi and Messi, it wouldn’t take too much to derail FC Barcelona’s 2010-2011 campaign.
After spending a quarter of a billion euro, no less, Real Madrid have been uncharacteristically prudent (for Madrid standards) in last summer’s transfer window. Florentino Perez’s obligatory Galactico was nowhere to be found, or better yet, not purchased. But that is if you are looking for a galactic player.
Real Madrid’s biggest signing usually sits on the bench (or should) for 90 minutes plus extra-time. His name: Jose Mourinho.
If there is a Galactico among modern-day managers, it’s Mourinho. Love him or loathe him, the guy is an even bigger superstar than most of his players. When you are as big a superstar as your players, especially in Madrid, then you can justify labeling yourself “the special one”.
Los Blancos' problem is, and has been for a while, continuity. Manuel Pellegrini didn’t win La Liga, but he hardly failed as the manager of Real Madrid.
When Pellegrin led los Merengues to the second-highest point tally of all time, he couldn’t have possibly failed; he was just unlucky another team acquired even more points.
Now, under Mourinho, Real Madrid are starting over, yet again. After an initial batch of unconvincing displays, Madrid are beginning to gel as a team. But, so far, Mourinho’s Galacticos haven’t been tested by top-class opponents, thus the verdict is still out. The encounter against AC Milan should provide more insight to the current state of play.
FC Barcelona and Real Madrid have always had and always will share one of the most intense rivalries in world football. As has been the case in recent seasons, this year’s Clasico will be a key fixture in the race for La Liga.
To build up anticipation for the fixture and provide some insight to the rivalry of these two marvelous clubs, I will publish a Barca/Madrid article every week until the Clasico.
Since I can’t possibly write from an Real Madrid perspective, I asked my friend Muffhakam Shaheriyar (a die-hard Madrid fan) to contribute to this piece. I also invited my fellow Culé and Featured Columnist for FC Barcelona, Manuel Traquete, to participate and represent for the Blaugrana.
Neither of them shies away from controversial views or opinions regarding the other team, which is exactly why these two were perfect for this project. All I asked of them was to keep a respectful tone, which they did throughout.
It’s not a requirement to be the best of friends or to share the same opinion in order to create an interesting piece; rather, respect and an open mind. At the end of the day, everyone who reads this article will agree to disagree, but it will invite a lot of people (hopefully) to engage in the subsequent debate.
It’s easy to write something with someone who agrees with your every opinion, but it’s a more difficult undertaking to do such thing with a “sworn enemy.” All the credit goes to these two talented writers who didn’t hesitate to help me out with my idea, which without their contribution wouldn’t have been possible.