Tag Archives: copa del rey

El Clasico: Barca through, but time is up.

Jose Mourinho demonstrated his ability as a superb coach once more. Wednesday’s Copa del Rey second leg between Barca and Real Madrid clearly demonstrated that the gap between the teams is closing. It took Mourinho a while to find the right way and tools, but today’s performance will give Real much more leverage in the coming weeks and the next Clasico’s. Real dominated the first half while stunningly falling behind 2-0 and much of the second half. Barca had to make it to the end hanging on on nothing else than their teeth. This has been the closest of matches of the past 9 or so. Continue reading

The Battle of Spain – Second half. Is Real Madrid ready to change the soccer world?

After Manchester United’s win against Manuel Neuer, the champions league today goes into the second round with the much anticipated clash between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. The opponents of today’s game, however, are finding themselves in round 3 of “The Battle of Spain”. At halftime, Real Madrid has the lead.

Barca, in the next two games, can make up for the losses in the first games. The two coming games will decide who has the say in Spain. The two champions league games are of a different character and require a different approach. Game one was a league game and ended with a tie that left Barca with an 8 point lead for the championship. While the game fueled Real’s confidence bucket, the result was enough for Barca. The second game, the final for the Copa del Rey was a one game competition and in such, everything is possible. Real won, deserved, but the cup final can’t be seen as the biggest game of the year, at least not this year.
Despite all the if’s and when’s around the first two games, Real managed and accomplished a few things that might be of importance of the outcome of the two champions league games. First, after a 5 -0 loss in the league at Barcelona and hopelessly trailing Barca, they have restored their confidence. They have shown the World, we can keep up with them, and, win. Second, while boosting their own confidence, they managed to “let some air out” of the over inflated Barca boat. Unlike two weeks ago, today, not everyone is so sure that Barca is advancing into the final. Third, and that was accomplished by “the special one” Jose Mourinho, Real showed that they have options in their game. Not only with players, but in strategy and game approach. While Barca is a great team, no doubt, it appears there is only one approach the team is world class in: Move the ball around the field with incredible speed and wait for the mistakes of the defenders, to set the deadly pass and score. Real has interrupted that circle and with that, called Barca’s weakness out, there is no other approach or a plan B that can work on a high level. Real has also shown that if you give Barca’s defense something to chew on, they might lose a few teeth during the process. They have taken the game to Barca and in doing so successfully brought in the real gain in the first two games. Respect from Barca, yes, being afraid, no.
Today’s first leg will not be the decider of the two-legged semi final. Well, if one of the two can pull off a win with three goals difference it is probably over, but everything less, doesn’t matter in who’s favor, leaves the second game as the decider. Real has shown they can beat Barca, the challenge is now to do so at Camp Nou next week.

Real Madrid – FC Barcelona, Start of “The Battle of Spain”!!

Over the next 8 weeks the excitement in the European soccer leagues will reach its peak. While in all leagues the fight for championship and relegation is fierce and is promising many exciting soccer games, in Spain, the situation is extremely electric. Game plan, faith and results of the different competitions present a very unique situation: Within barely 3 weeks, the two Spanish giants Real Madrid and FC Barcelona face off 4 times in increasingly critical games.

Tomorrow, Saturday, April 16th, the two face each other for the second league clash this season. A game that is always loaded with emotions to say the least, it is waited for since months. Barca won the first game at Camp Nou 5-0 and crashed Real’s hope for champion honors in Spain. Currently, Barca has an 8 point lead and it is very unlikely that Real can make that lead up, even with a win tomorrow. Does this take anything away from the game? No way! This clash is always loaded, no matter what the standing in the league is and a win is of major importance for both of them.

This year, the game has a much more explosive background compared to other years. It is the beginning of a series of clashes between the two within a short time. On Wednesday, they face each other again, in the Spanish Copa del Rey, the Spanish FA cup. It will be the final and that alone is promising absolute dramatic, excitement, agony and joy. Who gets what, has to be seen.

Not enough with that, a week later, they face off again. This time in the Champions League semi-final. A week later, game number 4 takes place, the second leg of the semi-final, this time in Barcelona.

The Spanish have quite some problems in their Country and working hard in trying to solve their issues. Over the next 4 weeks, however, it can’t be expected that a lot of work will be accomplished. For the time of “The Battle of Spain” work will only run on the side and daily worries over the economy will have an early summer break. You can bet that the main topic in Spain is soccer, by far. The good thing, some industries will experience a rise in business volume. If you have a soccer bar in Madrid or Barcelona, or anywhere else, this is your time.

As far as the teams go, the feelings before the games are different. While Barca and its players are no less excited than the Real players and supporters, following the reporting and commentary in the press, they sit much more confident, for the moment. Listening to the reports coming from Real, one can feel a lot of respect coming out of that corner. Maybe a little too much. Considered the importance of the games and what is at stake, some statements of players sounded almost like “toilette paroles”. The last game, a 5-0 win of Barcelona in last fall, 8 points short of Barca and the common opinion that Barca is the best team in the world, doesn’t leave the “Madridistas” untouched. A statement from Real’s superstar Ronaldo, confirms this:  “We have to believe it is possible for us to beat them. We are having a good run and feel confident”. One can debate the content of this statement, an expression of strong confidence it is not.

To get ahead in these games requires incredible skills, not only of physical nature, but also, and probably more, on the mental side. Both are fit and can run for hours if necessary, but the one that has a mental “blackout”, will lose the game and give away important momentum. Tomorrows game will set the tone for the next 3 weeks. While it is considered the least important of the 4 games, the result will influence the outcome of “the overall war”. Right now, Barca has the momentum. A Real win tomorrow would bring them level. And this will be important for the coming games. A loss would increase pressure on Real and require much more effort to get back. The game tomorrow is therefore probably the most important. Game on!