El Centrocampista

THE UPPER HAND? – What was learnt from yesterday’s results.

Advantage Jose Mourinho and Real Madrid.

Two wins, ten goals scored and two points clear of bitter rivals Barcelona at the top of La Liga.

If this was three or four months from now those statistics would hold a little more significance, but after only a couple of matches we probably shouldn’t read too much into them.

True, Mourinho and his men lay down the gauntlet to the Catalans when they burst out of the blocks in the first leg of the Supercup, albeit ending as undeserving losers, but have we seen enough to suggest los blancos have now got the tools to finally wrestle the La Liga title from the tight grip of Barcelona?

Just maybe.

A lot rides with Florentino Perez this season after granting such direct control of the team to his Portuguese manager, and many observers are waiting impatiently for it to all go wrong in the capital.

The shenanigans of the Camp Nou supercup clash whetted the appetite of many a critic who believe Mou is dragging the club down a one-way path to shame and ultimate failure.

Barcelona let a two-goal lead slip in three minutes against Real Sociedad.

But the self-style ‘Special One’ is a shrewd and clever individual.

Love him or loath him, you would be undeniably naive to think he has got where he is today without a measure of tactical brilliance.

Last season’s model of the boys from the Bernabeu was good, but not quite good enough.

They brushed aside all that stood before them, that was until they locked horns with their great adversaries from the north-east.

A sole victory, although it clinched the Copa del Rey, was an unsatisfactory consolation prize as they sat back to endure Barcelona bag the ultimate prize of the Liga and Champions League double.

This season however, something looks a little different.

There is a new found swagger and confidence to the team.

The opening day six-goal destruction of Real Zaragoza was an ominous sign of things to come – going one goal better than Barça’s impressive 5-0 dispatch of Champions League qualifiers, Villarreal.

Neither result, although both impressive, revealed anything we didn’t already know however.

Yesterday’s games in contrast, could prove a little more telling, especially when you consider the title will be decided on the two ‘clásicos’ combined with who has the least lapses in concentration during the other 36 games.

At the Anoeta in the days early kick off, Barcelona stormed into a two goal lead against a competitive, but ultimately inferior Real Sociedad side.

Pep Guardiola was left furious however, when the reigning champions let this advantage slip to only take a point from a game that should have been all over before the hosts netted twice in quick succession to deny them.

In contrast, their rivals in Madrid overcame a spirited Getafe side to claim a 4-2 victory and gain an early psychological advantage in the title chase.

Both sides should be sat level at the top, but Barça’s uncharacteristic slip-up means Jose Mourinho and his side can take some confidence from the knowledge that their rivals are not the perceived ‘la maquina’.

It may sound far too early to be discussing these results in context to the championship, but the improved quality and performance of this year’s Madrid model means the title could be won and lost on the mental battlefield – a battle of wits, concentration and confidence.

The title obviously wasn’t decided yesterday and there are bound to be far more twists and turns over the coming months, but we could just have witnessed the first indication that this season’s battle is going to be far more intriguing than that of recent years.


  1. leeroden

    11 September, 2011 at 11:09

    Interestingly enough I don’t think either Barça or Madrid played very well yesterday.

    Barça’s second half performance was borderline abysmal (Busquets still isn’t a centre-half, proving that Mascherano is good there simply because he can be, and not because any defensive mid can play further back, and Keita is a poor midfield pivot).

    Equally, Madrid looked frighteningly worried at the back against a Getafe team that, lets face it, are pretty terrible.

    Perhaps it’s the “international break effect” we’ve seen before. I definitely don’t think it’s an indicator that La Liga will be more competitive this year in any case (a lot of people are getting ahead of themselves on that one, particularly the Madrid/Barcelona press who are so keen to disprove the fact that the league is so unbalanced, for personal gain).

  2. Heath Chesters

    11 September, 2011 at 11:25

    Being a follower of one of the “small” clubs, Getafe’s efforts and those of Real Sociedad give me a little hope… even if it’s just a smidgen!

  3. Varun

    11 September, 2011 at 16:46

    “This season however, something looks a little different.”

    No not really.

    Barca have improved upon last season after 2 games.

    Barca get affected by the FIFA virus the worst, numbers prove it,

    Masc played 180 minutes in sub-continent, and with game on Tuesday with Milan had to be rested.

    Barca play 7 games in 23 days in fact.

    Barca didn’t even play the 1st team, therefore those 2 early goals gives out a distorted view, that Barca are going to struggle this season.
    It was an anomaly, nothing more, besides Pep as coach & player has only won 1 in 11 matches away to Sociedad, those guys are tough.

    Barca are so much stronger this season, its criminal (i say this as a long time Barca supporter).
    There are going to be articles written in few months as to how there should be steps done to never allow a team to be this good, just wait for it.

    On top Real were same old, unconvincing at home, and i predict its going to be same away where they are even more unconvincing.

    • anon

      12 September, 2011 at 15:34


      Numbers prove barsa get effected the worse from international breaks?? Thats wrong. barsa fail to prepare for international breaks as well as other teams. They are the only team in Europe who has an abysmal record like that. They cannot point the finger at anyone but themselves.

      It wasnt barsa second team, sanchez, fabregas, pedro, villa, xavi, iniesta, messi, mascherano, kieta, busquets, adriano, valdes.

      That is not the second team of barcelona.

      I agree that barsa are weaker this season, lets face it. Everyone already knows how they are going play. If they dont dive and cheat to get players sent off then they are going to have a hard time pulling out results. Its a fact.

      I cant wait for a few months until we have all the articles about how its “the end of a cycle” and how they are “too predictable”

      Meanwhile Madrid just go from strength to strength under the guidence of the special one. Exciting times ahead for Madridistas.

      I predict a 1 horse race with Ronaldo taking pichichi again for being the best goal scorer to grace the primera

      • Varun

        12 September, 2011 at 16:14

        Mr. anon, Its not Verun, its Varun.

        Only thing i agree with your comment is that Barca have themselves to blame for the post-FIFA break issues.

        Messi, Iniesta, Pique, Puyol, NOT THERE.
        it was not the 1st team, and those 4 are the crux of the team.

        Barca are far from weak this season, i hope you were joking when you made this comment, Barca are so strong that it should be outlawed to have such a ridiculously strong team (and i say this as a decade+ long cule)

        End of cycle? the cycle isn’t even in full gear, it hasn’t even peaked yet.

        yes about the predictability though (if you consider wining always and passing a lot predictable)

        Madrid so far have been same, their 1st match was against Zaragoza, Who are the absolute worst team one can imagine playing 1st class football.

        Getafe pushed RM very hard at Bernabeu, like most times last season.
        At home they usually win in the end, but Away against reasonable opposition they struggle even more and will have to prove they are capable, ‘coz last season they weren’t.

        Its 2 horse race, same as in England.

        Deal with it.

    • anon

      14 September, 2011 at 10:30

      My apologies Varun, i did not mean to spell your name incorrectly.

      Now to the points you raised.

      Messi and Iniesta where and both played a part in the game. Maybe Pique and Puyol were not there but that is why you are allowed to register 25 players and not 11. Everyone who played that night where first team players.

      You are so strong that it should be outlawed?? You have played 3 games and won just 1 of them. Now you have 2 more injuries, very strong team, you are dropping like flies, your fitness is terrible. Messi was dead last night after 60 mins. Iniesta was injured without being tackled. What where u doing all summer?? Never mind, dont answer that. Your pre season was terrible.

      Yes passing works well for 90 mins, then people score anyway. Look at Milan. They scored early then allowed u to pass the ball for 90 full mins and then they took it and scored again. What good did ur passing all night do?

      Getafe did push us hard but this is ok, we just come back from internationals, we could not prepare properly so we played a little bit sloppy. we still won the game though.

      its a 1 horse race, barsa are finished!!!

      • Varun

        14 September, 2011 at 22:29

        Even with 25 member squad, there is always a preferred starting 11 Barca is no exception. They are not playing their main 11 atm.

        Every team goes through a blip, 2 draws are considered monumental blips for Barca, big enough to exclude them from the title race. Can’t really argue with this mundane argument.

        Iniesta is injured, Cesc, Thiago will be his replacement, that is what were were doing in the summer, along with increasing the squad numbers which were 19 last year to account for exactly this kind of thing, thank you very much.

        You are predicting the future that its a 1 horse race, i am doing the same, that it won’t be and its still between RM and Barca,
        I seem to respect you team more than you seem to know Barca, which is what i was explaining, that you haven’t seen anything yet from this Barca, they haven’t even peaked in their multi-year cycle yet, wait and watch, its going to get Boring for the rest of you guys, a lot.

    • anon

      15 September, 2011 at 15:34

      Well Varun it is a valid point that there is a priority 11 but you do not always get to play with your first choice.

      You where missing Pique, Puyol and u had to go without iniesta and Messi for 1 half.

      Ok, if you remove Carvalho and Pepe from madrid and bench Ronaldo and Ozil for 1 half. I am quite confident we will still win comfortably.

      Kaka replaces Ozil. Callejon or Altintop can quite easily take Ronaldos position. Even Higuain can play there too.

      This is your job to have a strong squad and not only 11 good players. It is not an excuse that you have injury, it is proof that you are not prepared.

      Cesc and Thiago to replace Iniesta it is ok, fair point.

      So you say you lose because first team not play

      but then you say

      It is ok first team get injured because you have good back up players.

      You are not making sense. Clear contradiction in your latest reply.

      I know barsa very well. I do not have respect for them because they are a team of diving, cheating, crying, scumbags! I hate everything to do with your club

      • Varun

        16 September, 2011 at 01:05

        Kaka is hardly the player he was, even though i like him.

        Cesc and Thiago are replacements they are no way near the 1st team’s quality and are yet to adjust to the system.

        Actually when you don’t have you main players it IS an excuse, thats the meaning of that word.

        Your last statement is in all honesty silly.
        By using such comparison, i can picks few words and make it a comparison that Hitler used those words and hence you support Hitler. pretty stupid.

        You hate Barca “because” they dive and cheat, there could not be a more mundane reason for hating a team,
        as this basically means you hate every team in the world of football that has ever existed, including Real Madrid, even Brazil in 1970’s who were not prone to giving the odd dirty & wicked tackles to opponents at times.
        I won’t embarrass you by mentioning RM’s situation on this as i believe you know already.

        See you in few months to settle this, thats the only way it has been done for 100 years.

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