Monday, December 12, 2011

No end in sight to the reign in Spain

Another El Classico and yet another victory for this imperious Barcelona side for whom another European and League double this season would back up the calls for their crowning as the greatest club side ever.

For Barca, it was business as usual despite falling behind to an astonishingly quick Karim Benzema goal. Composed and confident they simply went about their usual domination of possession and carved out three goals in response.

These games are also marked for comparison between Messi and Ronaldo and yet again there was little to compare as Messi again produced magic and Ronaldo remained a largely peripheral figure, it is a constant theme in these matches.

There were always whispers during his time at ManYoo that Ronaldo was simply a flat track bully, too quick, strong and powerful against lesser mortals but rendered more impotent against top class players. Certainly his goal scoring record when playing against Ashley Cole (CR9 being employed as a right winger back then) would back up those stats. Since joining Real he has incredibly nearly averaged a goal a game but against Barcelona that number drops to around one in five. Against the best, you need your best players to stand up and be counted, last night instead Ronaldo was again profligate. If there is a weakness to this Barca side it is defensively and Ronaldo has done nothing to exploit it.

Messi enjoys similar goal scoring stats to Ronaldo and whilst that may be the case, the thing that is setting him apart currently rather than the aesthetics is his performances in the big games. Right now there should be no debate as to whom the best player in the world is.

For Mourinho, the next couple of months will be key. He appears to have hit a brick wall against Pep Guardiola since overcoming him during Internazionale's Champions League winning heroics. It appears a similar situation to the one he endured at Chelsea with Rafa Betinez who seemed to have a way of second guessing the supposed tactical master. It may just be that Barcelona are simply too good for anyone right now but there does seem to be a psychological problem currently with playing the Catalans.

What Mourinho must cling on to is that to win La Liga he doesn't necessarily need to beat Barca. Even after this defeat, victory in their game in hand would see Madrid go three points clear at the top. They still have to visit the Nou Camp where it would appear they should expect to be beaten, but even then the Spanish league is short on quality and Real have the team to beat everyone else in that league comfortably.

Guardiola will continue to do what he is doing and let his players and their football do the talking. They have had the odd wobble this season but their home form has been astonishing and they will certainly drop few points for the remainder of this season. It will probably be a fight all the way to the finishing line but Guardiola will be sweating little by the time he gets there we suspect - No Nonsense.