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Life President
May 29, 2005
Money can you buy a lot of things. It can buy you a fast car, a nice house and a beautiful wife. It can buy you the worlds greatest player and, in Manchester City's case, it can buy you an incompetent defence. What money can't buy you, Manuel Pellegrini learnt tonight, is class.

El Classico kicked off to a predictably frenetic atmosphere with both sides spending the ten minutes finding their feet after the Camp Nou crowd knocked their socks off. Thirty five nations were watching, Spanish TV spent four (Yes, four) hours building up the game and, during the initial stages, you could have been forgiven for wondering exactly what the hype was all about. The most expensive football game in history was subject to a tactical encounter of the highest order: each move counter-balanced, each pass intercepted and each run marked out of the game.

Rumour has it that Cristiano Ronaldo, who was welcomed back into the Real Madrid starting line up after a six week absence, will miss out to Lionel Messi in next months European Footballer of the Year awards, however it was third placed Xavi who made all the right moves. The mercurial playmaker has been Barcelona's go-to-guy for some time now, and he split the Real defence on multiple occasions and, if Messi wasn't of dwarf stature, Barcelona could have been ahead as early as the twentieth minute.

In reality, the two sides played out a rather drab spectacle in the first half, cancelling each other out.

Changes were afoot in the second and Pep Guardiola replaced Thiery Handball with Zlatan Ibrahimovic to almost immediate affect. Xavi played in Dani Alves who flighted a delightful ball into the path of the Swedish hit man, who made no mistakes in sidefooting the ball past a clamouring Iker Cassilas. What little roof the Nou Camp had was sent spiralling into the atmosphere as the onlooking crowd celebrated the first blow in an already intriguing title race. Real looked to respond immediately, playing in Ronaldo along the left flank but, in what became a theme of the night, Gerard Pique was equal to his former teammate. Ronaldo huffed and puffed throughout the 60 minutes he lasted, and was replaced by the equally ineffectual Karim Benzema.

Much was said of Alex Ferguson's inability sign a replacement for Ronaldo, with the general consensus agreeing that Benzema would have been ideal. On this showing, the Old Trafford faithful aren't missing much. On a similar note, neither are AC Milan, as Kaka continued to fail to set the world alight in white.

Real were given extra incentive when Sergio Busquets saw red after picking up a ludicrously stupid second yellow, but they failed to take the advantage as the Catalan's simply stepped up their passing game. Lionel Messi continued to mesmerise long into the 80th minute, one particular run spell-binding the entire Real defence before Pepe resorted to hauling the Argentinian down just outside the box.

Barca played out the remaining minutes in a composed fashion, showing Pellegrini and the onlooking millions exactly what it takes to be champions. They were up against a team amassed with limitless funds, they went in, done the job, and got out with the result they needed. Madrid spent 290 million euro's on tonight's team, he'll be left wondering just how much will need to be spent to catch up.


Remind me again how many players nominated for the Balon D'OR are actually playing in the Spanish league and how many are playing in The Premeirship?

Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast, Chelsea)

Samuel Eto'o (Cameroon, FC Barcelona & Inter Milan)

Steven Gerrard (England, Liverpool)

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden, Inter & FC Barcelona)

Andres Iniesta (Spain, FC Barcelona)

Kaka (Brazil, Milan AC & Real Madrid)

Lionel Messi (Argentina, FC Barcelona)

Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal, Manchester United & Real Madrid)

Wayne Rooney (England, Manchester United)

Xavi (Spain, FC Barcelona)

Uncle Leo

This cook is an anti-semite
Nov 19, 2003
NY Parks Dept
Remind me again how many players nominated for the Balon D'OR are actually playing in the Spanish league and how many are playing in The Premeirship?

Although the two best players on the pitch yesterday weren't on that list anyway; Piqué and Puyol were immense. Tasty goal by Zlatan mind.


I used to play a little.
Oct 24, 2003
A quality finish indeed if that was me it would definitely have been a shank... asking for some cream with that slice or some gravy for my (lamb) shank. I am however confident that the Shrimperzone strikers would have buried that more precisely than Zlatan!!