Taking a short break from heavier topics tonight, I wanted to quickly point out an excellent piece on the ability of Barcelona to overcome what might have been the quickest and harshest way to knock a team’s wind from their sails when Real Madrid took full advantage of a mistake by Vitor Valdes to pop an easy first goal – 23 seconds into the game. I would guess that a goal so quickly and easily taken in a game that has been elevated to near-mythical proportions here in Spain would create a sense of genuine panic among even the most seasoned players. But then you have a team like Barcelona who calmly gathered their thoughts and proceeded to play what appeared to be exactly the type of game they have always played under the guidance of trainer Pep Guardiola. Tight quick passes and lots of them. It did not seem to take at first, with Madrid continuing a frenzied but fierce attack, but the consistency paid off with an equalizer before the half. After that, it seemed all but over for Madrid.
I’ve always felt that Barcelona is the type of team that if you give them enough time to figure you out that night, you’re as good as dead. Whether its after five minutes or twenty, a moment will come when they figure you out and they will play around you like professionals against school children. The Champions League Final against Manchester United being of note. That is, I thought, unless you are able to knock them off their stride early, hard and fast. That had to be the only way you could really beat them. Saturday night proved that theory very wrong. Its difficult to imagine Madrid or any team hitting them earlier or harder than 23 seconds and yet here they were – methodically taking Madrid apart until, as usual, tempers boiled over as the home team was forced to slump off the field in front of a crowd now thinned by disappointment.
Barcelona were lucky for many reasons Saturday night but their impact of their approach and willingness to stick with it in the face of the most daunting of odds cannot be denied.
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