Barcelona might well become the 2013 Liga champions but it is going to be well tarnished by the way they were exposed today at Camp Nou by a ruthless Real Madrid side. On the lips of every Blaugrana fan: What happened to our team? Their tiki taka was creaky caca and their defense clearly stank.
Carles Puyol has been a lion for Barca over the years but the way he was exposed by Angel Di Maria on that second Ronaldo goal clearly shows the need for fresh legs. And Cristiano Ronaldo had the measure of Gerard Pique having difficulties spying where the fleet footed winger/ striker was headed upended him for a PK. Which CR7 put away with contemptuous ease. In Rafael Varane, Real Madrid have found a half back who can do everything, including save and score goals in the same match. That was some leap for the third goal as the Barca defense stood around earthbound.
Barca's consolation was a Jordi Alba goal from an Iniesta long ball that dropped in his doorstep. It was too little, too late. Leo Messi was nondescript for the AC Milan match and he disappeared for this one too.
One of the hallmarks of a rampant Barca attack was their recycling qualities as they pinged the ball around the box stretching the defense out and then suddenly Xavi would mail Pedro a gorgeous through ball. I remember reading an article by Jonathan Wilson where he mentioned their suffocating possession camped out in the opponent's half was their form of defense. But that was when they had the lead and needed to kill the match off. This is new to them. And it's proving too slow and futile.
When Mourinho won against them in the CL semi-final in 2010, Inter's performance was hailed as the epitome of what a defense could do as Walter Samuel and Thiago Motta turned in the performance of their lives against that hitherto unstoppable side. Now, Mou has Barca on the run, winning all the important matches making it almost too easy. Yet, lest we forget at this fading stage, Barca's greater service to the sport preserving their enviable cantera to produce legends while Real has bought its overseas stars at enormous cost. When Real have won the way Barca have won preserving their nucleus of homegrown talent then we can talk of an equivalence.