Yesterday I watched Barcelona thrash Real Madrid 4-0 in El Clasico. It’s interesting how these big club matches are hyped up. There is genuine dislike between the two cities going back to the Spanish Civil War and the oppression of General Franco who stifled Catalan culture, education and language. Even now Catalan independence is a real political social issue. Tv rights are unfairly distributed to ensure the hegemony of the two club persists. Occasionally Atletlico Madrid, Seville and Valencis will succeed particularly in European competition but you can pretty much guarantee that the table of la Liga at the end of any season will have as now Barcelona and Real Madrid in the top two places. With tv worldwide the Clasico now has branded global appeal. We were shown shots of the the game being watched in Shanghai and Miami Beach.
Valencis forged the career of Rafa Benitez now manager of the club he always supported Real Madrid. They have been invincible at home only conceding one goal this season and unbeaten in 23 games but their functional style does not please Real fans. My assessment of Benitez is he is not a manager for the absolute top teams – Real, Barcelona, Bayern – but does his best work at clubs with lower expectations just outside that group. He is still popular on Merseyside where he has a house, did well at Napoli but will struggle in Real. It’s a hard club to manage as Galacticos will be bought by the President. The manager is then expected to integrate them. Carlo Ancalotti was particularly good at this.
Barcelona without Messi statred strongly and never let up. They had the superior team work and were set up better by manager Luis Hemrique. Suarez started the scoring, Neymar the second and then Andrés Iniesta and Suereaz added another two after the break. I told John Pargiter that I had a fancy for Barca and he should lay Real. So he was exultant at half time. Less so the Madrilenos: The White handkerchiefs indicating goodbye came out for Benitez. Neither the fans nor President would stomach easily such a defeat. Andrés Iniesta was man of the match. This is a player that has given me huge pleasure over the years . He was in the shadow of Xavi but he is master of all the midfield arts, his passing both short and long range is sublime, he works hard and scores goals. When you think of some superb Spanish midfielders – the likes sf Arteta and Borja Valero – have such few caps for les Rojos you understand the tremendous depth of Spanish talent. You can also appreciate when you see such wondrous talent on view why the leading Premier clubs like Manchester City, part of whose defeat I watched against a resurgent Liverpool, lie well behind.