CLASSIC CLASICO

FC BarcelonaReal Madrid

“Nessun dorma! Nessun dorma! . . . guardi la stelle che tremano . . .” *

Giacomo Puccini

*(None shall sleep! None shall sleep! . . . watch the stars that tremble. . .)

 

No one could save them now.

Not even Messi.

Not even Guardiola.

Not even the memories of past successes in the clasico.

‘Som I Serem’.  The mosaic as the players walk onto the Camp Nou turf.

‘We are, and we will be.’

On this night, they tried to be. In the end, just like the Prince of Denmark, they couldn’t.

Ping, ping, ping.

Tiki, taka, tiki, taka.

Pass after pass after pass.

The same philosophy subsisted. The expected outcome didn’t.

Ping, ping, ping.

Tiki, taka, tiki, taka.

Pass after pass after pass.

But hold on. It wasn’t pass after pass after pass.

It was pass, pass, mispass.

Tiki, taka not ticking.

On the front foot, on the back foot.

Instead of dangerous in attack, dangerously defending.

On the front foot, on the back foot.

Som I Serem.

Pep gave his pep talk. Then he named his lineup.

No Alexis, no Cesc.

Thiago and Tello.

More width required, more static in the middle.

Mourinho will spring a surprise. He always does.

No need waiting for his surprise. Surprise him instead.

No Alexis, no Cesc.

Thiago and Tello.

Canteranos.

But no surprises from Mourinho.

Same lineup as old.

No trivote – triple pivot of defensive minded midfielders.

No playing Pepe in midfield.

No playing Coentrao as right back.

No surprises.

Just 4-2-3-1.

Guardiola tried to rectify.

The 4-3-3 became 3-4-3.

Dani Alves pushed up wide.

Busquets drops into back three to make it a four,

if and when required.

Tello wide left.

Messi false nine.

It had to work.

It had, at the Bernabeu.

It had to work.

It didn’t.

Xavi is off position.Too far from Iniesta.

Alves pushing forward. Space for Ronaldo.

Busquets making the three into a four, far too often. Ozil is free.

Tello is tense. Clasico has come too soon for him.

Corner to Madrid.

Angel of Mary curls it in.

No Pique, no height.

Confusion in the box.

Perfect for Madrid. They are no poets. They thrive in confusion.

Puyol waits for Valdes. Khedira waits for nobody.

Toe-poke, 1-0.

Game on.

Som I Serem.They want to be.

But they can’t be.

Madrid have learnt from Chelsea.

It’s not Messi who should receive all the attention. Yet it is Messi who should receive all the attention.

Starve the midfield, starve Messi.

Starve Messi and he will come for it deep.

Deep is not good, but it is better.

Better than the edge of the penalty area.

Better than in front of goal.

Messi produces his magic. Xavi doesn’t.

Interval comes.

Pep gives his pep talk.

Pass and pass and pass.

Tiki, taka, tik tik, taka.  Faster, harder,quicker.

The players come back.

Pass and pass and pass.

Tiki, taka, tik tik, taka.

Madrid not bothered.

They have learnt from Chelsea.

Defend, defend, Ronaldo.

Defend, Benzema, Ozil.

Di Maria too.

Same pattern as the first half. Barca still not on target.

Thiago through to Tello. Tello skies it.

Space for Xavi. Xavi shoots wide.

Barca still not on target.

Pep surprises again. Xavi off, Alexis on.

As the world questions, Messi goes on a slalom.

Ball to Iniesta.

Backheel to Tello.

Tello hits Iker. Barca still not on target.

Adriano’s left foot.

Saint Iker saves again.

Confusion in the box.

This time, the poets don’t care.

They do not seek perfection. On this night, thriving in confusion will do.

Alexis bundles it in.

It’s all looked messy.

It all started with Messi.

Its 1-1.

Som I Serem.

We are and we will be.

The belief is back. The philosophy is still supreme.

Barca can win. They will probably draw. Better than a loss.

The eternal enemy will not win it.

Not at Camp Nou.

This grandest stage of all.

This podium of recent European Cups.

Of La Liga trophies and Ballon D’Ors.

The eternal enemy will not win. Not at Camp Nou.

The grandest stage of all.

But Madrid had other ideas.

They did not wait.

Di Maria to Ozil. Ozil to space.

Space for Ronaldo. Ronaldo runs.

Puyol can’t keep up. Neither can Mascherano.

Valdes runs out. Ronaldo is there first.

First touch brilliant.

Next touch brilliance.

Ball nestles. Ronaldo wheels away.

Hand thumping chest.

The next gesture is clear.

Calm down everyone. It’s over when I say it is.

And it truly is over.

Seven points ahead. Four games to go.

Two wins confirms La Liga. Mere formality from now on.

Pep will not match Cruyff. No four league titles in a row.

Mourinho will win in Spain. Add that to Portugal, England and Italy.

He truly is special.

On a night the stars came to shine, the stars from another galaxy shine brightest.

It was written in the stars. The galacticos had to prevail.

No one had slept.

The Catalan curse is now broken.

Now they can sleep easily.

As Madridista stars.

Hala Madrid!

Plus ultra! – Further beyond!

We are a team!

Royal Madrid.

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