In a Catalan dreamland | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, December 01, 2010 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, December 01, 2010

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In a Catalan dreamland

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In a sensational display of attacking football, Barcelona, on Monday, completely overwhelmed archrivals Real Madrid by a thumping 5-0 scoreline in their El Clasico clash at the Camp Nou. While striker David Villa (top) may have scored twice, it was fabulous Lionel Messi (top L) and mesmerizing Xavi (top R) who were the chief architects of Madrid's destruction. Even youngsters Pedro (L) and Jeffren (R) got in on the act as Pep Guardiola's phenomenal side condemned Madrid coach Jose Mourinho to his heaviest defeat in football. Photo: AFP

Jose Mourinho always said that his side would lose one day but he did not expect to lose like this not after enjoying the greatest start of any coach in Real Madrid's history. His team, so impermeable before, were punctured. Five times. They were sunk. A 5-0 victory for Barcelona was described by the Madrid coach as a "historically bad result" for his club it was the worst defeat he has suffered in his career.
The final whistle arrived amid cheers and oles, plus boos for Sergio Ramos, sent off at the death for a wild scythe at Leo Messi. At last Mourinho could move from the bench where he had been sitting powerless. The chant going round was inspired by Mourinho's infamous accusation that Messi had play-acted during a Chelsea-Barcelona Champions League clash: "Mourinho, go to the theatre!" He might have wished he had. By his own admission, he had felt "impotent".
There was little comfort in the fact that this Barcelona team are genuinely special. Pep Guardiola's side were imperious, their control breathtaking. Speaking of genuinely special, if this was indeed the game that decided the best player in the world, there can be only one answer. Messi failed to score for the first time in 10 matches but his performance like those of Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez and Sergio Busquets was sublime. There were fewer brilliant dribbles, less fantasy but there was a stunning assuredness and impeccable precision in the passing. This was the Messi who controls the game and then decides it.
For Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, the most glittering of stars in a match featuring 11 world champions, there was a sense of this being a definitive test. Ronaldo has never scored against Barcelona; Messi is yet to get a goal against Mourinho. The last two winners of the Ballon d'Or, they had scored against everyone else. Ronaldo reached 50 goals for Madrid quicker than anyone in the club's history; Messi had struck 70 in 71 games.
But it was Xavi, the ideologue behind Spain's World Cup success, who opened the scoring after nine minutes. Messi, who spent the match dropping from his 'false No 9' role into midfield, content to play simple passes and keep the ball moving, combined with Xavi. The Argentinian then swept the ball out to Iniesta. His pass into the box found Xavi running though and as the ball bounced fortuitously off his heel, Xavi nudged a volley past Iker Casillas. It was the perfect demonstration of Barcelona's football. Short, clever passing, a man always in support. Even the goalkeeper Victor Valdes refused to hit aimless punts.
Barcelona did things that would be risky for any other side, playing out of the tightest corners. Soon, Camp Nou was roaring oles as their team swept the ball about.
When it looked like Barcelona were playing for its own sake, Xavi speared a wonderful diagonal ball to the left. David Villa collected and delivered a cross that Casillas could only just reach. As the ball squirmed free, Pedro got ahead of Marcelo to push it over the line and make it 2-0. Almost immediately, it was nearly three when Iniesta's sumptuous assist found Villa clean through but he was fractionally offside.
Madrid had little of the ball but when they did recover possession they broke rapidly and with murderous intent. Ronaldo saw a shot flash wide, a free-kick dip past the post and just before half-time he appealed for a penalty. The referee, Iturralde González, felt Ronaldo had looked for the penalty; replays suggested he may have found it. In the end it was academic and there could be no complaints.
Within two minutes of the start of the second half, Messi had a goal disallowed for offside. He, Pedro and Villa had already made a mess of a superb opportunity. Four minutes after that, Messi slipped an angled delivery through for Xavi. Unfortunately for Barcelona it was not the only thing that was angled; as Xavi stepped round Casillas he could only hit the side netting.
Barcelona would not be denied. Messi did much the same thing three minutes later and Villa made no mistake. The pass was perfectly weighted and Villa, sneaking in behind Pepe, struck his seventh goal of the season. In a flash, it was eight. Again Messi gave the clever ball. Again, Villa slipped free. This time he toe-poked the ball home.
There was still more than half an hour remaining. For Madrid and Mourinho it was an eternity. Barcelona barely let them see the ball, still less touch it. Barcelona added a fifth in stoppage time when Jeffren finished off Bojan Krkic's cross to complete a miserable night for Mourinho's team. Jeffren had been on the pitch only three minutes. In the second half, Madrid had barely been on it at all.
RESULT
Barcelona 5
(Xavi 9, Pedro 17, Villa 54, 56, Jeffren 90) Real Madrid 0

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