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Mourinho wears out his welcome as Barca and Atleti forge further ahead – Spanish football around the web
- Updated: 29 November, 2012
Round 13 of Spain’s La Liga saw Barcelona and Atletico Madrid win again, Real Madrid fall out of the title chase, Malaga consolidate their credentials for fourth and Sevilla crash back to earth. At the bottom, all three teams lost.
Saturday I crammed in a lot of La Liga action. I was able to catch the end of Rayo Vallecano/Mallorca show before watching the condensed version of Real Valladolid against Granada. All of this was in preparation for the Real Betis/Real Madrid and Malaga/Valencia double header.
Leo Bapistao had a fantastic last five minutes for Rayo. He scored the opening goal with a fine finish from the corner of the area and absolutely skinned the Mallorca defender before setting up Delibasic for the second. In the other game, Valladolid put plenty of pressure on Granada before the visitors rebounded. Unfortunately Granada were blunt in attack throughout the game, and a powerful goal from Manucho for the hosts settled the proceedings.
Sid Lowe made an interesting point about how opponents set up against Real Madrid in his weekly column for the Guardian. As teams do against FCB, Real Betis gave Mourinho’s side possession and did not allow them to counter. Their Formula One football (credit Real Madrid Football Blog) can be frustrated against banks of defenders and attackers who are very conservative. Doctor Sid also talked about the huge task ahead of the champions if they want to overhaul the Blaugrana as well as Malaga’s fine performance against Valencia and Falcao amongst the goals again.
Phil Ball discussed La Liga’s recent TV schedule wrinkle as Round 13 kicked off with Real Sociedad hosting Osasuna on Friday night. This led into a response to Mourinho’s comments for the fixture list for this round, with Real Madrid having to play Wednesday/Sunday while FCB played Tuesday/Sunday. Finally he praised Isco’s performance against Valencia and wonders where the midfielder will be playing next year.
Gareth Nunn laid out some interesting thoughts for Forza Football concerning the presentation of the La Liga product. The scattergun TV schedule (Friday through Monday); late kickoffs (9,10, 11pm); and the state of the playing surfaces are all factors contributing to fans staying away and TV viewers being less than impressed.
Barcelona Football Blog’s review was provided by Levon who saw Levante hang on for a half before conceding to a Blaugrana onslaught. FCB, fielding a team of all La Masia products, put four past the hosts and kept their three point lead over Atleti while increasing the gap to eleven over Real Madrid. Iniesta was the star of the match, scoring once and providing three more. Levon also acknowledged the influence of Cruyff over the years, with his arrival in 1973 paving the way for future glory and Sunday’s historic teamsheet.
Graham Hunter took things one step further. In his wonderful post for ESPN FC, he used the results from the Barcelona and Real Madrid games and wove a compelling argument that a single philosophy is the way forward for sporting institutions. Using FCB’s playing style as his paradigm, he briefly traced the steps from Cruyff to Van Gaal to Vilanova. Reminding readers that Van Gaal promoted some of the core group despite results, the club has now reached a point where they can play eleven former students from La Masia and win.
Then he holds the mirror up to Real Madrid. Mourinho, on staff at Barca under Van Gaal, has a system but that system isn’t working this year. (Tangent: it could be argued that Mourinho is fixer rather than a philosopher. His time at Chelsea and Inter as well as his time at the Bernabeu inidicate that he can come, forge a fighting spirit, but eventually he wears out his welcome with the club, players and fans and moves on.)
Los Blancos have regressed lately and have had differing approaches to team building over the years. Hunter challenges the club to reevaluate their operations and look at instituted a unifying system that will pay off in the long run. Fascinating article and well worth the read.
Finally, Mauricio Pochettino was the first manager to be fired this season. Mando made the case at the Ball is Flat that although the club has had troubles both on and off the field, the manager was also responsible for the team’s performance and finally had to go. He’s a big Espanyol fan so it was interesting to get his take.