Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick, so Lionel Messi had to get one of his won. Barcelona jumped on a stunned Atletico Madrid from the get go, scoring three goals in 26 minutes, followed by a Lionel Messi performance in the second half including two fantastic late goals, making it an impressive 5-0 thumping.
It usually happens, the Atletico Madrid bubble bursting early. Atletico did lose De Gea, Forlan and Aguero this summer, but added Diego and Falcao, looking rather impressive in these early stages. Problem? It always happened at home, at the Vicente Calderon. Atletico have yet to get a point on an away La Liga match this season.
For Barcelona? Nothing new. The usual shuffling in the back with something of a 3-4-3 going on, later changing to a 4-3-3 when Gerard Pique came in. It doesn’t really matter, as Guardiola’s improvisations, which have hurt Barcelona this year with their three 2-2 draws in two weeks made people and bandwagon fans feel that the perfection has left and this isn’t the same team of last year.
Different, and maybe not in full sync as of yet, but they’re getting there. Atletico do tend to implode when they reach the Nou Camp, more than ever when they’re coming with hope and aspirations. Lionel Messi loves to score against them, as he did again today. Xavi spoke earlier this week about how Cesc Fabregas makes him better.
The added dimension of Cesc’s off the ball movement, always spearheading forwards towards the box, unlike Iniesta or in general any midfielders in the Spanish league add another factor to Barcelona’s nearly impossible to stop pass and move game. The rest? The sheer panic and confusion every time Lionel Messi begins to do his thing just shatters defenses time and time again.
Maybe Messi felt he owed the Nou Camp fans a show, or maybe he just wants the Pichichi for himself this year. It didn’t matter. Messi made no intention of letting the second half go by with him not scoring at least another one, adding to his first half goal. In the 78th minute his speed and that extra gear he always has, together with that perfect balance got him his second goal of the match. Problem is we’ve gotten used to these from him.
In injury time it was David Villa’s through ball that deserved the applause. Lionel Messi got the fans on their feet once again, getting (like Ronaldo) his second hat-trick this season and moving to 8 league goals this season.
As always, despite the big results (6-2 for Real, 5-0 for Barcelona) everything feels like foreplay up until the first Clasico. This year, December 11 is the date. Things, championships, and probably more, tend to be decided then, not before.