Saturday, May 2, 2009

Live Blog: Real Madrid v. Barcelona

Remember that David Beckham guy? He used to play for MLS side LA Galaxy, which is what ties the above photo into this post, and before that he played for Real Madrid for several seasons. Sir Goldenballs played in a number of el Clasicos as a member of the Galacticos and it happens to be his birthday today! So let's wish him well and move on to the important business at hand.

I'm liveblogging the game! I have liveblogged in a while but I just popped a Vicodin for my bum knee and I slept only 4 hours last night, so this should be interesting.

Today's match has huge title race implications. Barca sits only four points ahead of Real Madrid right now, a Madrid win makes it seriously squeaky bum time for Barcelona as they have Champions League and Copa Del Rey matches still ahead of them. A victory would probably put the title to bed and a draw would at least have it ready for bed.

Both teams are thin at the back as Marquez is out for the season for the Catalans and Pepe is suspended for his temporary insanity against Getafe.

That the Madridistas are even in this position is simply amazing and has taken a great run of form to get there. In Juande Ramos' first match with Madrid they lost 2-0 to Barcelona. This was in December. Since then they have not lost a single league match and taken 52 of 54 possible points. Incredible.

I'm not sure what that says about Ramos or Tottenham--the club he led to the precipice of relegation but have rebounded quite nicely since his departure--but it certainly seems odd.

Later the lineups.

Real Madrid - Casillas, Metzelder, Cannavaro, Heinze, Ramos, Gago, Diarra, Marcelo, Robben, Raul, Higuaín

Barcelona - Valdés, Pique, Puyol, Abidal, Alves, Toure, Iniesta, Xavi, Henry, Eto'o, Messi

I have GolTV now which is great because I get to see so many more soccer matches. It's even greater because all the commericials are in Spanish, which I don't speak, and are just a bit crazy. Oddly enough, the commercials are all in Spanish, except the GolTV commercials, but most of the soccer is done with English commentary. Very odd.

Players entering and the music is not as regal as Champions League music. THey also don't have the kiddie chaperones for this match. Why not? Does somebody have a record we don't know about? My money would be on Puyol.

Tweeeeeeet! Game on.

1:00 - The announcer just told me we are going to rock. Xavi just got a great shot but directly at Casillas.

3:00 - Wow! Robben just blew by Abidal. It was an F1 versus a gokart.

5:00 - Eto'o just offside otherwise he was clear on Casillas.

8:00 - Abidal was lucky to get the call as he was dispossessed by Raul who tried to catch Valdes out of position with a long shot.

10:00 - Great game so far as both sides are attacking, unlike a certain oligarch controlled London club.

12:00 - Opposite defender left the left Madrid defenders out to dry keeping Messi on and then letting him get at Casillas who cleared and was fouled by the little flea.


14:00 - What a nice buildup, Ramos blows by Abidal and crosses it to the middle of the box where an unmarked Higuain rose to meet it with a header into the net. Very nice, poor defending. Abidal is having a horror match so far.

15:00 - And we're back on the other end as Henry takes it down the left line drawing in the defense and picks out a streaking Eto'o who just misses connecting in what surely would have been a goal.

Note: Eto'o wasn't really streaking. He still had his clothes on.

17:00 - GOALLL!!! HENRY. 1-1.

Messi fed Henry who controlled brilliantly and slotted home from the left side of the goal easily. Madrid's high line bit them in the ass there.

This is pacy, end-to-end action.

20:00 - Cannavaro fouls Titi just on the left endline outside the box. Xavi lines up over the ball...

GOALL!!!! PUYOL!! 2-1 Barca.

More poor marking.

22:00 - Holy crap! Valdes saved an Alves own goal. Higuain crossed it into the box and Alves was streaking back to cover and nearly knocked it in only luck allowed Valdes to be in the right place.

Abidal booked for elbowing Robben. There is going to be a red in this game and I think Abidal will get it.

24:00 - Casillas stones Messi after the umpteenth time the high Madrid line has hurt the team and allowed Barca a great chance.

Ramos booked for tripping Henry.

I forgot to mention the great bit of footwork Higuain showed prior to the near own goal to keep possession. It was marvelous.

26:00 - Messi has switched sides to help keep Ramos from Serging forward.

Xavi links up nicely with Eto'o on the right who gets a nice look at the goal but Casillas is up to the challenge.

Really? I was thinking I wanted to snip Hudson's vocal chords.

29:00 - Iniesta and Messi link up with deft passing in the box but Casillas comes out to gobble up Messi's shot. Iker has been stupendous.

32:00 - Raul collects it just outside the 18 and turns and fires a nice shot just over the bar. One of his few touches so far after a hattrick last week.

33:00 - Messi nearly beats Casillas with a cheeky chip from the endline, but Iker scrambles and just keeps the ball out. On replay, the chip was even more amazing as he gave it spin with the outside of the foot and almost works. Amazing.

36:00 - GOAL!!! Messi. 3-1.

Xavi stole the ball from Diarra, terrible, terrible play, and fed Messi who just slotted it home.

Madrid's defense is about as bad as Liverpool's against Arsenal.

39:00 - Puyol booked. The ensuing free kick drops right into the box untouched. I don't know how Madrid couldn't put that one in.

Barca's defense is as bad as Madrid's. It's just that Madrid's midfield can't maintain possession right now.

42:00 - Robben throws a temper tantrum after getting whistled for a foul. Barca gives it right back to Robben who does the same in kind.

45:00 - Marcelo booked for stepping on Messi. Free kick center pitch from about 35 yards out.

Alves takes the kick and Casillas with another diving save. The only reason this game isn't 6-3 is Iker Casillas and Barca's defensive luck.


I'm exhausted. This match hasn't paused for a moment.

The question is how will Ramos adjust at halftime. Los Blancos are having no time on the ball in the midfield. They need to possess the ball more with quick passes to unlock the backline. It's not like the Barca defense is a complex bank's more like one of those luggage locks.

Madrid started off the match brilliantly but Barcelona turned up the intensity. A few instances where the pressure defense burns them and Madrid should give themselves a little bit of breathing room. Plus, the need to go back to Robben who was absolutely torching Abidal. Perhaps switching Robben to the left side to rein in Alves would work and Marcelo has good skill to hurt Abidal.

Barcelona for its part may not want to change a thing. Although, I think sitting back to support its defense a bit more might be warranted despite the success it reaped in the first half. But, you never really want to take your foot off the gas.

46:00 - Game on. Did you catch your breath? I haven't.

No lineup changes.

48:00 - The vampire with nifty footwork frees himself for a quality shot from 18 that splays wide right.

49:00 - Xavi on the corner won by Henry, headed clear by Gago.

52:00 - Robben goes to ground too easily and can't get the call on Puyol.

54:00 - Messi with a zig-zag run beats Metzelder but Messi runs out space and flashes it across the goal was a difficult angle but Messi has already shown that is no obstacle for him today.

55:00 - Robben had Abidal beat but Valdes came way off his line, outside his box, to stop Robben who subsequently wins a free kick.

GOALLLLLL!!!!! RAMOS!!! 2-3.

Robben with a wonderous free kick delivered straight into the 6 and Ramos was unmarked and headed it in. This game is back on. Barca slowed up to start this half, but I imagine this will change that.

58:00 GOAL!!! HENRY!!!! 4-2 Barca.

Henry kept himself onside after a great ball from Xavi at midfield and then just had to beat Casillas who was charging out.

Van der Vaart Klaas Jan Huntelaar on for Marcelo.

59:00 - Messi misses a simple tap in wide somehow.

60:00 - Henry comes off and Ketia comes on.

65:00 - Robben with excellent control deep on the sideline, but Pique picks his pocket. Robben is now on the left side.

The match has finally taken a breather. So, now it's time for your public service announcement of the day. I just found out there is a class action lawsuit against Bluetooth manufacturers for hearing loss. Unfortunately, it's not one of the class actions that will get you 40 or 50 bucks for free from the settlement. I guess there is not enough money so they are just going to give it to a non-profit. If you don't opt out, you will be bound by the result and if you consequently suffer hearing loss because of a bluetooth headset you won't be able to recover.

69:00 - Van der Vaart warming up.

71:00 - Ketia falls right on top of Diarra.

Ramos off with Van der Vaart off. Interesting.

73:00 - Diarra gets away with a bad tackle in the box. Probably a penno. He should probably get a penalty just for changing his name to Lass.

Van der Vaart booked for a bad tackle on Alves.

75:00 - GOAL! Messi. 5-2 He beats Casillas near post after Messi received a return pass from Xavi that unlocked the defense. Just great, precise passing. Excellent.

79:00 - Robben off, Javi Garcia on. The wheels have come off this match. Madrid's tires were slashed and Barcelona I think just let some air out of their tires to deal with the bumpy terrain.

82:00 - GOAL!!! Pique. 6-2. Casillas made a great save but couldn't corral the ball and Pique picked it up and got the junk goal.

The fans are streaming out of the Bernabeu. No word whether Nives Celsius was seen on the roof.

85:00 - Iniesta and Toure off, Bojan and Busquets on.

This is really quite embarassing for Real Madrid. I'm sure there will be even more rumors that Ronaldo will be coming to the Spanish capital tomorrow and this week.

The La Liga title will undoubtedly return to Catalonia after a two year stay in Madrid after this thumping. Barca need only win one more match to clinch the title.

90:00 - No extra time despite 3 goals and several yellows in the second half. What a thumping. The first half was compelling but Madrid just couldn't contain the midfield and maintain possession. It's a pity there will be no more intrigue with the La Liga title this year. Madrid put up a good fight this season but to no avail.

Ray Hudson seems to think Chelsea are cowards for their choice of play this past week. I think Ray Hudson is an idiot.


ü75 said...

I can't believe you linked to that. Are those pics still up?

The Fan's Attic said...

Do you think LB would spontaneously combust if he saw those pics?

I do. Or at least go into full blown Cornholio mode.

Precious Roy said...

"He takes the earth's rotation into account."

I want Ray Hudson to narrate my life.

ü75 said...

Lively game. Shame about the crowd.

Steve said...

i imagine this is how Barca thought the Chelsea game would go.

Sarah said...

Totally didn't even realize there was a liveblog going on. Good job though, as my internet is spazzing out and all of my streams have stopped working.

Precious Roy said...

This game makes me love Ray Hudson and hate Chelsea even more.

The Fan's Attic said...

You know, I think Chelsea has the squad to be able to play this end to end match with Barca. Chelsea's midfield is stout enough to stop the onslaught of the Barca attack.

Steve said...

@Sarah: sent a link to a good stream to the email listed on your profile. hope you don't mind!

Sarah said...

@Steve: Yay it works! Thank you!

Mike Georger said...

Agger signs a four year deal. Soccernet preparing 'Agger buying himself out of contract' article for tomorrow.

ü75 said...

Just found a stream. Was that Madrid pulling one back?

Precious Roy said...

Titi. Get in!

Sarah said...

Oh Titi, come back to Arsenal please.

ü75 said...

Goodness. Now that's a finish.

ü75 said...

Is the Drugs tag for you, TFA?

The Fan's Attic said...

Yes, if you read the intro, you will know I popped a Vicodin and have slept only 4 hours.

ü75 said...

Stream gone, don't care. Keep on with the updates, plzkthxbye

ü75 said...

I read the intro when it went up, Was making sure I didn't miss something.

Sarah said...

So um, why didn't Barca play like this against Chelsea??

The Fan's Attic said...

Because Chelsea has a better defense than Real Madrid. More discipline, better players in the back line and a defensive gameplan.

The Fan's Attic said...

Madrid's defense is just atrocious.

Steve said...

agreed. I don't think it would go over too well if Madrid put 10 behind the ball at all times against Barca. Ramos' head might roll the next day.

Sarah said...

And they just keep on coming.

I feel bad for Casillas.

Steve said...

this is at the bernabeu, right? will ramos get sacked? surely they won't renew his contract now.

phil said...

A Ramos led team that doesn't mark on set pieces and is soft at the midfield? I can't believe it. Really. Stunning stuff.

The Fan's Attic said...

Frankly, Barca was pretty weak at the back and only masked it's shortcomings by attacking incessantly. This is a team you can counter on and if you have a stout midfield, I can definitely see them being beaten easily.

I pray that nobody sells them a good defensive midfielder.

Joep Smeets said...

right, easily. because theyre not good at all?

the only team that has come close to beating them in a high profile game has been chelsea, who parked everything in a blue shirt they could find minus drogba in front of goal and that got them a draw. so yeah, easily. sure.

The Fan's Attic said...

Well, I think Chelsea will beat them mid-week because of the strength of their midfield. Barcelona is not without its weaknesses, particularly its defense. Take away the midfield and there is no service for the three-headed monster of attack. Of course easily is a loaded term and I don't mean it would be easy to take away the midfield.

Rather I think if the midfield is taken away the victory will not be difficult. I look at Valencia's draw with Barca last week as a prime example. The Barca midfield in that match was horrid and only a bit of good fortune allowed them the draw. Valencia is a good team, but not that good. Chelsea is a much better team with one of the finest defensive midfielders, Michael Essien, in the world.

Just my thoughts. I could easily be wrong.

Anonymous said...

yooo man, we have yaya toure who has been immense in the holding midfield position, he has been incredible lately... notably against chelsea :P

i don't really know what you mean about chelsea having an advantage over barcelona because of their midfield when barcelona have one of the strongest midfields atm. the combination of xavi (who set up 4/6 goals today!)+ iniesta + toure is very hard to overcome imo. valencia is an exception because that game showed fatigue in a lot of the barca players while valencia were highly motivated, but i think the clasico has revived most of the players. even messi was back to his old self and hes been poopy lately :P

i think chelsea still have a slight edge over barca because barca's shakey backline. puyi+marquez are gone, (but at least we have pique who has been solid and hands down the best CB lately). barca suck at both scoring and defending set pieces/corners while those are stronger traits of chelski. i think it all comes down to who scores the first goal. if chelsea get an early one like manutd did last season, then i think barca will be done :( i just hope they play a dif game than they did last week...

The Fan's Attic said...

Good offensively, not defensively. Not overly impressed with Toure. More impressed with how Barca's offense acts as its first line of defense. They just overpursued in the Real match and swarmed them not allowing them to retain possession or find a passing lane.

A Lampard or a Ballack are players that can really make them pay for a strategy like that. That is if, of course, Chelsea opens up its attack this time around, which I think it will. Somebody needs to score to win the match but Guus' strategy was to make it a one leg tie and not a two-leg tie. It should be fun.

Anonymous said...

i just have the fresh impression of the yaya because of his performance against chelsea tuesday. he was awesome at going forward, winning balls, killing everything that went through the midfield, tracking back (ok well its not like he really needed to lol), the works! he owned essien a few times too :P

has ballack been that great lately? i haven't heard a lot of good things about him since he returned from injury. i still believe that barca will control the midfield like they're used to doing though. chelsea will have to open attack if they're want to go for a win

im so nervous for this one :( barca *haaaaave* to score first

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