FC Barcelona, at least in the last two or three years, has taken a step back. The Blaugrana have the best player in the world and a squad full of stars, with astronomical records and an extensive list of individual awards, as well as natural talent and important careers. However, if there is something that has been repeated recently, it is that they ‘fall’ on the most important nights and leave behind a host of doubts that end up turning them into a vulnerable team and ‘easy’ to beat the big rivals.
In a different situation, which does not mean that it is better, there is Real Madrid, with a huge flight of stars and a modest dressing room, with important and talented players but who, most of them, do not lead the list of the best in their respective positions. . Because yes, they have Luka Modric, Toni Kroos or Casemiro, the midfielders of the three consecutive Champions League and the best in recent years, or Sergio Ramos, who continues to be one of the most prominent center-backs in the world, but they have one less squad showy, with almost no stars and few players.
It is true that both squads, both Barça and Madrid, have come up ‘short’ and, in the midst of the pandemic, they have been greatly affected by the huge list of injuries and the short deadlines between matches (which causes the players lose more confrontations), but the big difference is how the resources have been managed or managed and there, precisely, the White House leaves the Blaugrana ‘humiliated’ (and leaves them a lesson).
However, before the ‘lessons’ of Madrid, it should also be noted that at the head of the team is a Zinedine Zidane who has proclaimed himself not only as a lover of challenges, but also as passionate about winning them. The French and his team have given up a thousand times and have risen up winning a thousand and one more chances. He is a strategist and leader, with an unbeatable ability to read the games and approaches of his rivals and leave behind the coaches he faces.
In less than 14 days, he gave the best proof of it. Madrid did not reach the Champions League quarterfinals as favorites, against Liverpool, or El Clásico, against Barça, and emerged vic torious from both. The responsability? It is probably 70% of the effective approach of ‘Zizou’ and the other 30% of the resistance, commitment and talent of his players, which is not little. In a matter of nine days, the Frenchman beat Jürgen Klopp and Ronald Koeman, two coaches with much more experience and experience than him to show, once again, that probably no one can repeat what he has done with a Madrid in crisis.
Against Barça, specifically, many important conclusions can be drawn that go far beyond the influence or not that arbitration decisions could have. Zidane completely neutralized Koeman’s 5-3-2, which had been the drawing that ‘resurrected’ Barça in 2021. The impressive thing, however, is that they arrived with a very weak defense and that, at first glance, could be easy to beat. Nacho and Militão, however, frustrated all the options of Leo Messi and company, but the success of the French in that match was reflected in the bands, especially in the first half.
Jordi Alba and Sergiño Dest, converted into extremes with the new drawing, were portrayed by their rivals and had some of their worst 45 minutes of the season, if not the worst. Zidane, aware of Alba’s great role on offense, included Fede Valverde in his approach to ‘protect’ his right wing. And it worked out wonderfully. The Uruguayan, who is unstoppable, left Alba and all the midfielders portrayed with a huge career from his field that ended with a pass to Lucas Vázquez and Benzema’s goal from a taco. On the other side, Vinicius was a nightmare for Dest (it reminded him of the night at the Camp Nou against PSG and Mbappé). The Brazilian overflowed at will and prevailed with his speed.
From there, Barça lost offensive strength and, if Lucas Vázquez had not been injured and Valverde had not been touched, the game would have been a complete nightmare. Barça took advantage of Odriozola’s low level on the wing, but it was not even enough to overcome the scoreboard, despite the fact that there was enough time (without basing the defeat only on the four or five minutes that the referee did not add).
Strength, belief, endurance …
Although it is almost inexplicable that with an inferior defense and playing with Mariano, Odriozola and substitute players, Madrid held out against Barça in the second half, the feat was repeated at Anfield a few days later. It is undeniable that Liverpool showed, probably, their worst version of recent years, but they also found an inspired Thibaut Courtois, a pair of centrals (Nacho-Militão) with a lot of confidence and a midfield that relieved the pressure of Klopp’s. The sum of the ‘details’ that Zidane knows how to take care of were the key to returning to the semifinals of the Champions League.
And that does not mean that the Frenchman is the best coach in the world, or that his tactical approach is perfect, even less that he has the ‘flower’, but it talks about how he uses his resources and brings out the greatest possible shine to get to be where they are (with possibilities of winning the League and Champions). Compared with Barça, without ever underestimating the work of Ronald Koeman and his efforts to ‘resuscitate’ the Blaugrana, the situation is different and the ‘Griezmann Case’, and the irregularity of the Frenchman or the endless fight with Coutinho, before injuring himself , are presented as the worst scenarios.
Does it have to see history?
It is no secret that the Champions League is the predilection of Real Madrid and the meaning that competition has for Madridistas, and that Anfield was proof that resisting is also winning but … Does that have any ‘extra’ effects in the madridistas? Because, obviously, when the ‘BBC’ (Bale, Benzema and Cristiano) was there, it was easier to understand that Madrid reached the semifinals of the Champions League, but with a lead led by Benzema (indisputable, due to his talent and having put himself in shoulders to the team), accompanied by Vinicius Jr or Marco Asensio, in addition to having Mariano, Rodrygo on the bench and with his star, Eden Hazard, constantly injured …
There are no stars and that magnifies the feat of Madrid that, if it ends the campaign with a title, it will be remembered as something historic considering all the times it has been at breaking point in recent months. In short, if there is something that must be highlighted about this team, although it is more than complicated, it is that the strength, endurance, reaction capacity and not giving up, in addition to the leadership from the offices to the locker room, with Florentino Pérez , Zidane and Sergio Ramos as protagonists, are aspects that any team envies and wants … And from what Barça has to learn.