By Manuel Traquete
There has never been a better time for Barcelona supporters. Pep Guardiola’s Dream Team has been dominating Europe for the past two seasons and displaying some of the finest football the world has ever seen.
After today’s ridiculously simple 5-0 demolition of Real Madrid, Barcelona supporters have reasons to feel invincible. Their team is steamrolling opponent after opponent and playing mesmeric football, just like the club’s philosophy demands.
Leading the charge are arguably the three best current players in the world: Xavi Hernandez, Andrés Iniesta and the fabulous Lionel Messi.
These three brilliant players have led Barcelona and Spain (in Xavi and Iniesta’s case) to unlimited success over the past two seasons, and they’re still as sharp and motivated as ever.
Barcelona’s success is really the product of a true generation miracle in La Masia, which allowed some of the most talented players on the planet at their peak, or close to it, to co-exist in one of the best club sides ever assembled. Other than the three aforementioned geniuses, there are still the likes of captain Puyol, Piqué, Sergio Busquets, Pedro Rodriguez, Bojan Krkic and more. They’re all incredibly talented and, having come through the youth ranks, feel the weight of the jersey like no other, thus they give their all at every occasion.
Exceptional “outside” talent like Henry, Eto’o, Abidal, Daniel Alves and now David Villa only improved on an already fabulous squad.
In fact, David Villa’s arrival was the best thing that could have happened to Barcelona, as he has been showing to be a perfect fit in Barcelona’s system, with his fantastic work ethic, striking abilities and humble personality.
With Villa, Barcelona are now looking better than ever. El Clásico was proof of that; El Guaje was everywhere, literally! Down the left flank, down the right, linking up with Xavi and Iniesta in the midfield and, of course, on the receiving end of Messi’s through balls. He proved why he cost $ 40 million, scoring a brace, assisting one and having a true MVP performance (then again, so did many Barcelona players).
Messi was his usual self. The greatest player of our generation did not score, but he had a truly wonderful performance, showcasing his play-making skills this time, proving that he is hands down the most complete football player on the planet, not only of today but in history.
Xavi and Iniesta also had their usual mesmerizing performances, and so did every player on the team. Xavi actually scored the opener, with a brilliant finish after Iniesta’s perfect assists—a rare goal for The Maestro.
To cap a perfect evening, Bojan assisted Jeffren for the fifth, showing the Camp Nou that Barcelona’s future will certainly be a bright one.
It was a magnificent result and absolutely impeccable football. It could be argued that this Barcelona team has even more potential than their 2009 counterparts. The football they have been playing is at least as fantastic, and the results are apparent.
José Mourinho is a great manager and Cristiano Ronaldo is a great player, but the two Portuguese wizards were no match for the blaugrana juggernaut. Many “haters” had tipped Mourinho to put an end to Barcelona’s domination, but if today’s match is any indication, they won’t have their wishes granted. Never before in his career had Bobby Robson’s former translator been so humiliated.
Real Madrid resorted to all kinds of dirty, violent tactics to stop Barcelona, as epitomized by Sergio Ramos’s outburst late in the match. The referee showed a clear bias towards Los Blancos, and Real Madrid managed to play with 11 almost until the end. Cristiano Ronaldo was allowed to stay on the field despite pushing Guardiola in the first half, and Messi got booked for having been elbowed by Ricardo Carvalho, among other inexplicable calls.
But Real Madrid’s dirty antics combined with an inadequate referee were no match for an absolutely inspired blaugrana side, who actually seemed to enjoy and thrive on the added challenge. Barcelona are starting to regain that aura of invincibility they had in 2008-2009. The future seems bright for the culés.
However, feeling invincible and actually being invincible are two quite different things.
Despite this 5-0 blowout, Barcelona must keep focused on what lies ahead. Playing against Barcelona is the match of the season for every team, and each opponent wil give 100 percent to try to stop Guardiola’ Dream Team, starting with Osasuna next weekend. Real Madrid has officially become irrelevant, and they’ll only be relevant again in April 2011. Right now, the focus must immediately shift to Osasuna. That match might not be as glamorous as the Clásico, but it’s also three points. Real Madrid are now merely the second-place team, and for it to remain that way Barcelona must keep focused and win their matches, regardless of the opponent.
It’s a fantastic night for every Barcelona supporter. In fact, it’s been a fantastic two years. But the biggest challenge is yet to come: Barcelona will have to keep their focus in order to keep adding trophies—and in order for Pep’s Dream Team to become arguably the best club side in history.
By winning today’s match, Barcelona became the first of the two Spanish giants to win five Clásicos in a row. But winning Clásicos, although great, is just one step of the way. Three-peating and recovering the Champions League trophy is what the blaugrana really want. Today, they showed their unmatched quality and hunger. But this was only one battle—the war is far from.