Ex-Arsenal Man Fabregas Is A Peerless False Nine & Other El Clasico Conclusions
It is the second most watched game after the Champions League final but too much of a good thing can be bad. We have yet to reach the heights of 2011, when we were treated or subjected to the torture, of 4 games over 18 days, but it is still a tie that gets some watering at the mouth and Spain into a frenzy. Bars are packed and few have talked about anything else since the start of the week. This is the big one. The first leg of the Copa Del Rey finished in a draw with goals from Cesc Fabregas and Raphaël Varane but it was a game with many talking points; so let’s take a look at five highlights of the tie.
Doing The Talking On The Pitch
In 2011 absolute chaos broke out after 4 games in just 18 days. It left Vicente Del Bosque admitting he was ‘worried’ and some wondered whether the damage caused could ever be repaired. The game itself had become a sub plot with most of the real drama happening in press conferences. Mourinho’s conspiracies, Pep’s swearing and Pepe’s stepping on players hands saw fans turn and start to dread the El Clasico. Since then things have changed and it seems that now, and thankfully, football is getting the headlines. Barca played the possession game, Real Madrid played high up the pitch and on the counter. It was non-stop stuff and very entertaining. When the final whistle went, the only sad point was that we would have to wait for a month until the next tie.
It was written in the stars. When Real Madrid signed the young Lens defender some wondered whether he would cut it at a club that is not known for giving youth too many chances. Standing in Barajas Airport as the team went on its American tour he looked lost and out of place. Against Barca he looked like a seasoned pro that had been playing at this level all his life. Tackling and passing he was immense and he is still only 19! Real Madrid have a real star on their hands. Of course it would have to be him who scored the equaliser and gave Los Blancos hope in the 2nd leg. Pepe beware, there is a new kid in town.
A year ago it looked like it was all going pear shaped for Cesc. He started well at Barca but then he appeared to be like a square peg in a team that needed a circle. Some Arsenal fans gloated and some started to question whether the player may even seek a move. That was then. He has now transformed himself under Tito Vilanova and is a key player. He has mastered the ‘False Number 9’ role for both club and country and last night got Barca off the score sheet. It all coming up rosy and Barca fans are all enjoying Cescy football.
Arsenal fans aside (They will never forgive his role in the pulling of a Barca shirt over Cesc as Spain celebrated the World Cup win in Madrid), most fans have the up most respect for Carles Puyol. Although his defending is impeccable and he is the type of defender most clubs can only dream about it is the off the ball actions that make you glad that players like him still exist. When a cigarette lighter was thrown on to the pitch, Gerard Pique was intent on showing it to the ref. Don’t get this writer wrong, I am completely against the throwing of objects at players and fans etc but in this type of match, surely the players should be focused on the game and not the sidelines and it seems Puyol agrees because as Pique went to the ref with the lighter in his hand, Puyi grabbed it and threw it away and told the former United defender to concentrate on picking up his man for the corner. A true legend of the game.
The Premier League Connection
It may be La Liga’s biggest game but there can be no denying the Premier League connection. At Real Madrid we had Essien, Carvalho, Arbeloa, Ronaldo, Xabi Alonso and Modric. At Barca we had Cesc with Song and Mascherano as unused subs. Essien has been used to fill plugs all over the Real Madrid defence and he was decent tonight. While Carvalho had a good game he still made some big mistakes and it is fair to say that his best days are behind him. On the Barca bench, David Villa was an unused sub with the Catalans opting for Alexis as an attacking sub. Maybe a little late for this transfer window but surely the end is near for the forward.