Thursday, 30 April 2009

Barcelona still favourites for the title

author: Ewan Macdonald
source: Goal

date: 27 April 2009

Barcelona may play a brand of football that's easy on the eye, but that was of little consolation to the fans as the Blaugrana picked up just a 2-2 draw at Valencia this Saturday night.

The late equaliser, though, that rescued a point turned out to be utterly vital, given that Real Madrid managed a 4-2 win at Sevilla the following evening. That leaves the gap at the top of the La Liga table at just four points heading into this week's Clasico. Yet to listen to some in the media you'd think that Barcelona were a dozen points clear.

Let's get one thing straight: the Blaugrana do lead the league, but the margin is narrow and is getting thinner. This is despite the fact that Europe collectively drops everything and flocks around the nearest TV when Barcelona play. Fans in England with little interest of the world outside the Premier League wax lyrical about the Barcelona style, and recognise the Culers as being genuine Champions League contenders. But this poetic mode of play has given the Blaugrana just a four point margin.

What's more, with five games left, things are looking increasingly precarious from a rotation point of view. Saturday saw Thierry Henry rested, and while Andres Iniesta filled in well at left forward, the midfield trio was easily swamped. Iniesta was out of the way and Yaya Toure was out - if such an incident occurs again, and the Xavi-Busquets-Keita trident lines up, Barcelona could well struggle.

Real Madrid have selection worries of their own, of course, and this is showing in their performances. Yet somehow they came through to win at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan. Even with Pepe out for the rest of the season, the movable feast that is the midfield, and no Ruud van Nistelrooy, they managed four goals in Andalucia, three of them from a player - skipper Raul - who has been largely anonymous for weeks now.

Yet that he was able to return to form in such incredible fashion belies everything paradoxical about this Madrid side: their squad list is one blessed with talent, but talent that all too often doesn't show. Even when it doesn't, though, there is enough about one or two individuals, and enough of a fighting spirit from the rest, to see results ground out.

That's why the deficit is now so small, and why, when Barcelona come to the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday, they will be far less cocksure than the turn of the year suggested. Yes, they may dazzle, they may score, and they may win the plaudits. But Madrid, scrambling away, are once again the type of side that can quietly grab a result, almost without others noticing.

My take on it? I've said it before and I'll say it again: the Liga's over, and Barcelona have their names ready to go on the trophy. But I'd be lying if I said that Madrid weren't making a real chase of it. For that we must be grateful: the Liga race is going to be an exciting one right up until the last ball is kicked.

read the full and original article here

1 comment:

Barca4ever said...

Our season as come down to two games - win the next two and we are LL champions and in the final of the CL.

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