REIGNING Spanish champions Barcelona proved they are the best team in the world after eliminating Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid in the semi-final of the Uefa Champions League.
Many soccer pundits had second thoughts about the Catalan club following their Kings Cup defeat just over two weeks ago.
However, Tuesday’s game wrapped up five El-classico encounters-the first time it has happened in history. Barcelona finished top after winning two, drawing two and losing one.
After the Kings Cup defeat, many thought Mourinho had discovered a way past Pep Guardiola but it was not to be as Madrid could only master a 1-1 draw at the Nou Camp to eventually lose 3-1 on aggregates.
Lionel Messi and co simply went about their business in the same refined manner and deservedly marched on to face Manchester united in the Wembley final slated for May 28. Faced with Madrid who pressed much higher up the pitch than in the first leg, Barca did not panic.
Even with Lionel Messi playing in a more advanced position (target man), Barcelona still had plenty of creativity in Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez and Pedro Rodriguez.
Despite Madrid pressing on in the opening minutes, Barca had seven shots without Victor Valdes being troubled at the other end at half time.
While some claim that Barca’s weakness is the lack of Plan B, Guardiola has very little to worry about at the moment because Plan A is doing the job. Barcelona is simply solid in all departments. With Eric Abidal’s return, their defense is as compact as United’s.
Throughout the season, Carlos Puyol and Gerald Pique have been rock solid at the heart of the defense.
With Puyol is very strong on aerial balls, with good tackling skills, strong on aerial balls and a physical presence, Puyol is without doubt one of the best stoppers on the globe today.
And he will definitely be charged with the task of stopping the likes of Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez.
But Barca’s strength is their offense and one man wh
o can testify to that is Real Madrid goalkeeper and Captain Iker Casillas. His man of the match performance on Tuesday deserved more than a 1-all draw.
On another day, we could have witnessed another 5-0 or 5-1 drubbing. Messi, David Villa, Pedro and Xavi were simply unstoppable.
Madrid may have lifted the Copa del Rey but it is the Catalans who will go on to win La Liga and with all the artistry and class Barca have put on display throughout the season, they are firm favourites to lift a third Champions League title and fourth European Cup in six attempts.