Sunday, November 29, 2009
Worth Every Euro
El Clasico was 0-0 at the half, with Real Madrid having had the better of the chances. Barca was getting nothing from Thierry Henry, who was turning in another indifferent performance for the Blaugrana. (I've never seen anyone exert so little effort at coming back out of offside positions.) Five minutes into the second half, Pep Guardiola summons alleged big game bottler Zlatan Ibrahimovic from the bench. Five minutes later, the choker makes a well-timed run as Dani Alves is sending a perfect cross over from the right..
And Barca finishes their crunch week with wins over Inter and Real. The team still has a few issues. Leo Messi remains below his best. Henry gives them nothing. The team's depth could be better, especially at center back where it's Puyol, Pique and pray for rain. That said, Barca are tops in La Liga, tops in their Champions League group, and, unlike their arch-rivals, still alive in the Copa del Rey.
To be honest, Real looked like the better side for long stretches today. Manuel Pellegrini has figured out his best XI. My hope is that he succumbs to pressure to mess with a good thing by playing Raul, Guti, and the slumping Benzema. One can never go wrong by assuming that the internal politics at Real Madrid will lead to the wrong players ending up on the pitch.