It’s very difficult choosing where to begin and on what to put an emphasis after such a performance. Is it Barcelona’s flawless performance, annihilating Real from the first second on the pitch? Guardiola’s tactical victory over Jose Mourinho, who suffered the worst defeat I ever remember him receiving, and looking like he aged 10-15 years as the match went on?
Maybe the way Real Madrid’s defense crumbled as the match progresses, unable to handle the constant pressure or hold a decent offside line?
When it comes down to it – this evening belong to the wonderful Barcelona players, from Valdes who had only one time when he actually had to stretch, to Pique-Puyo-Alves-Abidal who made Benzema, Ronaldo and Di Maria forgotten men, hardly getting any touches on the ball.
The midfield, that played both its roles to perfection – never let Real control the game and hardly allowed any kind of possession or an attempt to slow things down (67-33), and of course Xavi who opened the scoring.
And the attack? Villa finally arrived. He hasn’t been in great form since his arrival from Valencia, but his two goals tonight have won him a place in Barca lore for years to come. Messi didn’t score, but everything he did, including that perfect pass to Villa on the fourth goal, created such Panic at the Madrid back four, he didn’t need to.
Real Madrid opened the game defending with a very high line, with a very short distance between the most advanced player to the defenders, some sort of compact formation like Milan used to play under Sacchi. It didn’t work. If the first goal wasn’t enough for Mourinho to understand that, blaming a lucky bounce for Xavi’s opener, Pedro’s second made sure that Real would stop defending like that.
It actually made sure Real stopped defending or playing. Carvalho and Pepe were a mess, Casillas kept shouting at everyone, and Barcelona just kept playing with its prey and could have finished the game with 6-7 goals, maybe even more.
One of the most amazing things about the match was that the first red card was pulled only after the 90 minutes were completed, with Sergio Ramos trying to take off one of Messi’s legs. His slap-fest later on didn’t add any dignity to himself or his teammates, who were completely humiliated and I was sure that someone will be sent off for not tolerating Barca’s ball movement. It was either Ronaldo or Ramos to be the first with the red, but Ronaldo stopped playing at about the 58th minute.
In the long run, it’ll be interesting to see how this match carries with both teams into the rest of the season. Barcelona now top the league with 34 points, handing Real their worst defeat since that 5-0 sixteen years ago with Cruyff’s dream team. How much is their pride hurt, slashed, broken? Will this have an affect on relationships in the Spanish national team? Mourinho is the special one, but he was absolutely stunned by what happened today, not getting up from the bench. He had no way to influence the game, to clean up the mess his players left on the field. Losses like this can turn into a very dangerous spiral very soon if memories linger on too long. For Barcelona? They proved what many believed – They’re not just the best football team in the world, they might be the greatest team ever, and we should thank them for producing such a perfect night of football.