by ‘Ifreke Inyang
If you missed Sunday’s El Clasico game, well, let’s just say you missed out. No superlatives will paint the pictures as vividly as the live game. The football was end to end, the drama was incredible and our nerves were seriously tested. It ended 2-2, but even the scoreline doesn’t tell the story. Let’s tell you three things we picked out from the explosive encounter.
1. Messi and Ronaldo are a class apart
The eternal argument is still who between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, is a better player. But on the night, both footballers came to the party. Cristiano Ronaldo opened scoring, with a vicious left-footed drive that beat Valdes at his near post. Messi brought the scores level, shortly before half time, with a poacher’s goal. In the second half, it was Messi, who gave Barcelona the lead, with an absolutely magnificent free kick, struck with supreme technique. A loss of concentration in the home side’s defence, allowed Mesut Ozil, to pick out Ronaldo’s run, with a superb reverse pass. The Portuguese forward made no mistake, with a fine finish.
“Saying who is the best in the world at the moment should be banned because these two are both such fantastic players,” Jose Mourinho said after the game.
Tito Vilanova was more assured in his response, as to who he thought the better player was. “Perhaps Ronaldo would have received slightly more recognition if he were not playing at the same time as Messi.”
2. Casillas is not as good as he used to, Valdes is crap
A few years back, Iker Casillas, was regarded as the best goalkeeper in the world, without an argument. But not so anymore. A lot of football pundits, will readily pick Manchester City’s Joe Hart, as the safest pair of hands in world football. And they may just be right. For the second El Clasico in a row, Spain’s number 1, managed to allow Messi’s free kick creep in. Well, we will give it to the Argentine, who is a phenomenon, but Sunday’s effort was struck from about 35 yards or more.
On the other side of the pitch, Victor Valdes, proved to us what we were already certain of. Ronaldo’s opener, could have easily been saved. But his position and reaction was not the best, and so, Real Madrid took the lead. As Mourinho must have instructed his players, Valdes had to deal with a lot of long range efforts, as more and more people are beginning to notice his butter fingers.
3. Neither Vilanova nor Mourinho were tactically excellent
We had expected Alexander Song to start in the centre of defence for the Catalans. But instead, Tito Vilanova went for Adriano. It was as baffling, as it was ridiculous. And it was his bad positioning, that allowed Ronaldo, stroll into the box and score the equaliser. Song has been used severally in that position, during his time at Arsenal and would have done a better job, but didn’t even get off the bench.
Vilanova, should have started Iniesta and Xavi in the middle too and Alexis Sanchez on the opposite flank to where Pedro started for balance.
Jose Mouriho started Mesut Ozil, who has been badly out of form in the game. Knowing fully well that the game will likely be won and lost in the centre of the park, the 49-year-old should have started Luka Modric, who is more direct and evasive player and would have given Barca a few problems. Or probably Kaka, who has started to find some form. The decision to also start Karim Benzema, ahead of Higuain, was not justified, as the Frenchman missed a sitter, when his side were leading 1-0.