Former Real Madrid and Spain midfielder Xabi Alonso suggested that Barca playmaker Lionel Messi used to create lot of problems for his team.
The assertion does not seem incredible until one recalls back the Jose Mourinho years when the rivalry peaked to soaring heights between the big two teams in Spain.
Such was the vile and vitriol surrounding the encounters that Madrid players went to great lengths to downplay the threat posed by Messi during those years.
Mourinho and Pep Guardiola could not be more different as managers and so was the case for arch rivals FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. The rivalry had all sorts of dimensions and Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi fought for supremacy added the extra spice. The ever artistic Messi was in sublime touch during the Guardiola years and he tormented Real Madrid in all competitions where the Spanish giants met.
Messi was instrumental in stopping Mourinho’s schemes in feisty encounters where physical contact and tempo reached previously unimaginable heights. Alonso has eased into retirement and now it seems he is more comfortable talking about the Barcelona talisman.
"Messi has done a lot of damage to me. Me, Mourinho and Sergio Ramos talked about him a lot," he explained in an interview with Ecos del Balne.
"We only started to control Messi when I was marking him.
"We sacrificed positions for me to mark him, but once we controlled Messi the matches were even."
Back in 2010, during Mourinho’s first Clasico, Messi was instrumental to Barcelona’s domination as they put five unanswered goals against Madrid.
"The famous 5-0 made us change a lot of things," he admitted.
"At that time we weren't ready to compete, a year later we were.
"Barcelona were dominant, but by the end of 2011 we knew we could strike against anybody in four moves."