The Week In Barcelona: What went well, what didn't – and who won and lost
The week in five words
That didn’t go to plan.
What went well
Although the result was far from what the geed-up capacity crowd in the Camp Nou predicted, solace can still be taken that the Saturday night scoreline was a mere blip in the recent history of Barcelona, which has been one of dominance over Real Madrid.
Six of the last 10 league titles have gone to the Catalan club, compared to three for their rivals – and just one coming in the past seven years.
A large chunk of that dominance came from the legacy and lessons of Johan Cruyff, who received a moving tribute from the supporters and players at the Camp Nou after his death from cancer. In all likelihood, the league title trophy is going to stay at the Catalan club for another year.
Although the Clasico was as bad as an evening can get on the sporting front for Barça, the bigger picture is one that should be remembered the morning after the night before.
To be blunt and not using the finest of the Queen’s English, the 2-1 defeat to Real Madrid was a whole combination of really bad stuff happening to Barcelona, all at the same time. The 39-match unbeaten record in all competitions was flushed down the U-bend of football by Madrid, of all teams – and in the Camp Nou – on the night that the club paid tribute to its most important figure over the past 50 years.
MSN barely turned up for the occasion, and the winner was scored by the Anti-Christ himself in the form of Cristiano Ronaldo. Even the Atlético Madrid result from earlier on Saturday went into the 'bad-day' tick box.
The comprehensive 5-1 win over Betis will keep Barcelona on its toes over the remaining games of the season, with the Rojiblancos six points behind now. It also serves as a reminder of another Madrid team ready to bring its A-game to the Camp Nou in the Champions League on Tuesday.
Aside from that, everything went very peachy indeed. “The game no longer exists for me,” claimed Luis Enrique, “there’s no pain.”
Quote of the week
Gerard Piqué summed up the feelings of some fretting Barcelona fans around the world with the team’s Treble-hunting season coming into the business end.
“There are still two months left and we can’t have a big drop-off now,” the stopper noted.
The need-to-know facts
- Leo Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar fired blanks, and ended a run of 17 games with at least one of the trio getting on the scoresheet.
- Only 1 shot on target was mustered by the MSN, compared to 7 of Real Madrid's BBC.
Barcelona have waved goodbye to the best-ever unbeaten La Liga streak (32 wins, 7 draws)
There has been a goal in every Barça-Real Madrid game in all competitions since November 2002.
Video of the week
Just a sample of the spine-tinglingly beautiful tribute the supporters and club gave to Johan Cruyff ahead of the game:
Winner of the week
Gerard Piqué. It's tough to pick from a team that was defeated at home, but Gerard Piqué was the best of a bad bunch – and not just for his goal which opened the scoring. As Santi Jiménez, AS's Barcelona correspondent, noted in Sunday’s edition: “Piqué was the only one to come out and play with the right mentality irrespective of the league table.”
The player who is also the most likely to troll in the dimension of social media at any misfortune for Real Madrid was also the most magnanimous in defeat, admitting that “they scored and won fair and square”.
Loser of the week
The MSN. Seeing as they're apparently dealt with as a collective these days, as if merged in Jeff Goldblum’s transporter device in The Fly, then they can be dealt with as one unit. To be kind to a flat performance from the trio, it appeared that the latest batch of South American qualifiers had taken its toll.
That’s not too surprisingly at all for Leo Messi and Luis Suarez, who had crunch games in just six days ahead of El Clasico. The excuse is weaker for Neymar, who had a week to rest up ahead of Saturday’s game due to suspension for Brazil, and should have been carrying the heavy load for his team-mates.