Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Madrid Fails, Barca Advances

Yesterday FC Barcelona advanced to the Final of the 2011 Champions League tournament in Wembley Stadium in London, with a 1 - 1 tie at Camp Nou against El Clasico rival Real Madrid.  The tie advanced Barca with a 3 - 1 goal differential against Real Madrid over two matches.  The game was also the last of four El Clasico matchups between Barca and Real Madrid, over an 18 day period.

Barca scored first in the 54th minute with a beautiful goal by Pedro off a brilliant through ball by Andres Insiesta.  Real Madrid drew even 9 minutes later when Angel Di Maria banged a shot off the post, directly to Marcelo, who coolly pushed the ball in to tie the score.  Thus the match ended and FC Barcelona goes through to the final.

Despite the fact that Real Madrid won the Copa del Rey, it is clear that Barcelona outplayed them in every match.  Here is a summary of the last four encounters:

April 16 / La Liga:                    RM 1 - FCB 1 (Santiago Bernabeu)
April 20/ Copa del Rey:            RM 1 - FCB 0 (Valencia)
April 27 / Champions League:   RM 0 - FCB 2 (Santiago Bernabeu)
May 3 / Champions League:     FCB 1 - RM 1   (Camp Nou)

Thus each team posted a 1 - 1 - 2 record over the last 18 days, with Barcelona scoring 4 goals and Real Madrid 3.  However, if we include the results of the first El Clasico this season from November 29, in which Barcelona scored five goals to none for Real Madrid, then the tally for Barcelona in El Clasico competition this season  is 2 - 1 - 2, with 9 goals for, and only three against.  As a Barcelona fan, this is a very satisfying outcome.

It is a pity that Barcelona did not also win the Copa del Rey, but Barca is now all-but-assured the Spanish League title, and they are certainly now the favorites to win the Champions League as well, which is much more prestigious than the Copa.  The Blaugrana now have just four matches left in regular season league competition, and the Champions League final awaiting them in London.

Finally, as a postscript to this 18 day saga, I note with both amusement and sadness the continued whining from the Real Madrid players and coach Jose Mourinho regarding the allegedly preferential treatment given to FC Barcelona by referees.  The public airing of such preposterous conspiracy theories is really a new low for Real Madrid and their now very-mortal looking manager.  Mourinho's controversial commnents, now echoed by cry baby Cristiano Ronaldo, are completely ridiculous on the surface. 

Which is more likely-- that there is a vast secret FIFA conspiracy to influence referees to favor Barca over Real Madrid, OR instead the Real Madrid players are really just hurt and frustrated by continually being bested by Barcelona, leading to the kind of acting-out on the pitch that has resulted in so many Red cards?

Not only is FC Barcelona a better team, they also have more class and public dignity too.  On to the Champion's League Final !!