There was no hiding for either Real Madrid or their highly hated visitors from Barcelona last weekend at the Santiago Bernabeu as the atmosphere for El Clasico was red hot.
Both teams knew the score very clearly and there were no halves about it. Or at least until Real defenders went to sleep on Lionel Messi’s goal.
Going into what most pundits referred to as the ‘match of the century’, both teams were level on points but the Madrid had a lightly superior goal difference but a win for whichever team would make them the favorites to lift the La Liga title and that is why there supposed to be no room for mistakes from both.
After losing 1-0 at the Camp Nou earlier in the season on top of that humiliating 6-2 defeat in the corresponding fixture at the Bernabeu last season, I never expected Madrid to take another beating at the hands of the hated rivals.
Fresh from outclassing Arsenal in the Champions League quarterfinal, Barca turned tables on their traditional rivals, which made it four consecutive victories since Pep Guardiola took charge last season. No other Barca coach had ever achieved that feat.
Guardiola’s team built on their momentum with another win over Deportivo La Coruna on Wednesday. They now have the upper hand in the title race unless something goes amiss for them in the remaining six matches, which very unlikely baring the form they’re in.
Guardiola is slowly but surely growing in status as a man who could go on to make history and break old record as well as setting new ones with Barcelona.
And as a Catalan through and through, it’s particularly an honour for him to beat Real four times in a row, but it will only be worth something if his team end up as champions.
They’re not there yet as there are games left to play but after doing the job at the Santiago Bernabeu, you wouldn’t bet your wife against them retaining their title.
Real Madrid coach Manuel Pellegrini came under a barrage of criticism following the Barcelona defeat but he at least rallied his Glacticos to a 2-1 win at lowly Almeria on Thursday.
The league is still a possibility if Barca slip but that will take more than a major slump in form for the European champions who are also through to the semifinals of the Champions League where they next face Jose Mourinho’s Inter.
But while Barcelona can only throw the title away as they lead by three points at the top with six matches to go, you can expect Real to push them all the way to the last day of the season.
Messi outwits CR9
At the Bernabeu, there was more than just three points at stake for either team. There was the minor issue of who is the better player of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, which, at the end of the El Clasico the watching masses across the world was left with a clear answer to that.
The two are the top stars in world football at the minute and both have been candidates for World Player of the Year multiple times. But at the Bernabeu, it was the little Argentinean who stole the show on a day Real fans turned their frustration on their own world record buy, who was full of running throughout the game but with no end product. Pity Mr. ‘Winker’
The Espanyol threat
Espanyol have lived in city rivals Barcelona’s shadow throughout their history but a derby offers chance for redemption. Like for most derbies, Espanyol will not only be aiming to knock their local rivals off their perch but also put a dent in their title hopes.
Naturally, with Barcelona such a potent force both domestically and in Europe, they have won the majority of the matches between the two sides. But Last season, in Barca’s six-trophies-winning campaign, Espanyol were the first team in La Liga to win at Camp Nou.
As for Real, nothing but three point against visiting Valencia Sunday night will all but end any hope they have of winning the league, the only trophy they’re still playing for in what has been a very disappointing season for them.
At the start of the season, I said Madrid could end the season without a major trophy and as the state of affairs stand, it could turn out to be one of the most right prediction I’ve ever placed. By the way, I’m also still winning my stake on Chelsea winning the Premiership title.