After Manchester United’s win against Manuel Neuer, the champions league today goes into the second round with the much anticipated clash between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. The opponents of today’s game, however, are finding themselves in round 3 of “The Battle of Spain”. At halftime, Real Madrid has the lead.
Barca, in the next two games, can make up for the losses in the first games. The two coming games will decide who has the say in Spain. The two champions league games are of a different character and require a different approach. Game one was a league game and ended with a tie that left Barca with an 8 point lead for the championship. While the game fueled Real’s confidence bucket, the result was enough for Barca. The second game, the final for the Copa del Rey was a one game competition and in such, everything is possible. Real won, deserved, but the cup final can’t be seen as the biggest game of the year, at least not this year.
Despite all the if’s and when’s around the first two games, Real managed and accomplished a few things that might be of importance of the outcome of the two champions league games. First, after a 5 -0 loss in the league at Barcelona and hopelessly trailing Barca, they have restored their confidence. They have shown the World, we can keep up with them, and, win. Second, while boosting their own confidence, they managed to “let some air out” of the over inflated Barca boat. Unlike two weeks ago, today, not everyone is so sure that Barca is advancing into the final. Third, and that was accomplished by “the special one” Jose Mourinho, Real showed that they have options in their game. Not only with players, but in strategy and game approach. While Barca is a great team, no doubt, it appears there is only one approach the team is world class in: Move the ball around the field with incredible speed and wait for the mistakes of the defenders, to set the deadly pass and score. Real has interrupted that circle and with that, called Barca’s weakness out, there is no other approach or a plan B that can work on a high level. Real has also shown that if you give Barca’s defense something to chew on, they might lose a few teeth during the process. They have taken the game to Barca and in doing so successfully brought in the real gain in the first two games. Respect from Barca, yes, being afraid, no.
Today’s first leg will not be the decider of the two-legged semi final. Well, if one of the two can pull off a win with three goals difference it is probably over, but everything less, doesn’t matter in who’s favor, leaves the second game as the decider. Real has shown they can beat Barca, the challenge is now to do so at Camp Nou next week.