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Life President
May 29, 2005
Lionel Messi and Pedro Rodriguez sealed a dominant win for Barcelona in El Clasico, seemingly deciding the La Liga title race as Real were left out thought, out fought and out classed.

This will, by no means, go down in history as an El Clasico to remember. Barcelona entered the contest coming off the back of a comprehensive drubbing of Arsenal, Lionel Messi single handedly leading the destruction. Madrid, on the other hand, limped out of European competition at the hands of Lyon and a loss here would almost certainly equate to a trophy-less season for the nuevo galacticos.

In Kaka’s absence, Rafael van der Vaart returned from the apparent wilderness and Lassana Diarra was forced to vacate his position in the starting line up, while Dani Alves was pushed further up the field for Barcelona in an attempt to isolate Alvaro Arbeloa.

With both sides making tactical and formation alterations, the opening exchanges were predictably tentative. Ronaldo sauntered around the pitch with his infamous pomp, nutmegging Alonso before trying to do too much with the ball and, minutes later, the opening talking point. The man dubbed Superhuman in various quarters of the press this week, Messi, raced to the Madrid by-line and, upon knocking the ball back, had his standing leg taken from him as Albiol slid and missed the ball. Any other arena would have seen a penalty awarded, but the Bernabeu escaped this decision.

If anything, Madrid opened the game in a stronger fashion. While Ronaldo huffed and puffed to little effect, Marcelo tested Barca with every driving run. Carles Puyol could have been given a five yard head start, but a step-over and a burst of pace later, He would be watching helplessly as the Brazilian darted past him.

In truth, Barcelona looked a pale comparison to the side that swept Arsenal away with ease and Messi saw next to nothing of the ball despite being the one target of every searching drive forward.

Which is why it won’t surprise you at all when, seconds after receiving being pole axed off the ball, he gave Barcelona the lead latching onto a delightfully executed ball over the top by Xavi, leaving Albiol for dead with his first touch and simply knocking it past the approaching Casillas. The once rocking Santiago Bernabeu crowd was silenced with a single swing of the Wizard Argentinian’s right foot.

The game continued at the same pace well into the second half, Marcelo posing as the main threat for a Madrid side that looked to Ronaldo for inspiration, but carrying an ankle knock all the most expensive player on the planet could muster was a string of over hit crosses and enthusiastic sighs.

The defining moment of the game occurred just before the hour mark. Pedro Rodriguez capitalised on a mistake by Arbeloa, raced ahead to latch onto a through ball and coolly slotted beyond Iker Casillas to give the Catalans a two goal lead. A goal typical of Madrid’s defensive problems will come as no surprise to the neutrals... The best part of £200million, apparently, buys you an error prone defence that crumbles under pressure.

That said, Pellegrini is not entirely blameless in a game that Barcelona found all too comfortable to control. With neither of the Diarras employed in a defensive midfield role, Madrid lacked bite in the centre and Xavi had all the time and space needed to be instrumental in attack. The complete lack of bite was readily complimented by a complete lack of ambition and invention; Ronaldo and Higuain found themselves completely isolated in attack throughout the contest and on a number of occasions, midfield reinforcements arriving into the box would surely have seen Valdes tested.

Pedro’s strike settled the game long before the referee called an end to the spectacle. Barcelona found this all too easy and ran out comfortable winners without truly expressing themselves or committing a thoroughly entertaining performance. Three points ahead and completely dominant in the head-to-head meetings between the two clubs, it is Barca’s title to lose and
it certainly looks like being another season of discontent for Los Blancos.

Where Madrid go from here, worryingly, lies in the wrath of Florentino Perez. Pellegrini was reportedly lucky to keep his position in the wake of their elimination from the Champions League and this defeat will come as yet another blow for the much revered Chilean. Perez promised the supporters success upon his election and now he must deliver... Over £200million was spent and just Albiol and Arbeloa arrive to reinforce the defensive ranks within a disproportionate and unbalanced side. If they are to progress, Pellegrini must be allowed to bring in his own players.

As it stands, Barcelona are towns ahead, not just streets.

Tangled up in Blue

Certified Senior Citizen⭐
May 24, 2004
Sant Cugat del Vallès
Yeah but Bar$a are playing a real football team next Saturday.Look out for an Espanyol home win.We were robbed of a richly deserved point at the Nou Camp before Xmas by a poor penalty decision.That sort of dodgy refereeing shouldn't happen this time round as the man with the whistle this time is one of Spain's senior refs and will be in South Africa.