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El Clasico and the Boomtown Rats

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Phil Minshull | 19:30 UK time, Friday, 26 November 2010

Back in August, Spain's leading sports daily newspaper Marca's traditional pre-season La Liga guide had as the headline for its main editorial, "Hola don Pepito, Hola don Jose."

Even though those words were written more than three months ago, there is no doubt that Monday's El Clasico at the Camp Nou - when Pep Guardiola's Barcelona take on Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid - is the game that the media and almost every other Spanish football fan - even those whose affections lie with the other 18 top-flight clubs - have been waiting for since the start of the campaign.

Given that the respective budgets of champions Barcelona and league leaders Real Madrid continue to dwarf those of their Spanish rivals and the fact that both clubs again indulged in summer spending sprees to bring in new blood, it is no surprise the game is a top-of-the-table clash.

This season's first meeting between the two Spanish giants has more than a few points to make it stand out from even from many of their other recent encounters.

Both Guardiola and Mourinho - the last two winners of the Champions League, with Barca in 2009 and Inter Milan in 2010 - have proven they are coaches and tacticians of outstanding calibre. Despite all Manuel Pellegrini's good points, the Chilean does not quite make the grade in comparison to his Portuguese successor at the Bernabeu.

Last season Jose Mourinho, who was then in charge of Inter Milan, knocked Barca out of the Champions League

Will Jose Mourino get the better of Barcelona again on Monday? Photo: Getty

During the 2009/10 season, Mourinho and Guardiola came face to face for the first time as coaches when Inter met Barcelona met in the Champions League group stages and then the semi-final in April.

Guardiola's Barca won 1-0 in the Camp Nou, thanks to a goal from Gerald Pique, but it was not enough to overturn a 3-1 first-leg loss in Milan.

After arriving at the Bernabeu, Mourinho made a few jibes about Guardiola and Barcelona, notably that the Catalan club sometimes played with 12 men due to referee favouritism.

But Guardiola did not rise to the bait and the ever-loquacious Mourinho seems to have desisted from this line of attack in recent weeks.

Both Real and Barca were less than convincing in the first few weeks of the season, either because their 2010 World Cup stars were still jaded or maybe because new arrivals such as Barcelona's David Villa and Javier Mascherano or Real's Angel Di Maria or Sami Khedira were still finding their feet.

Barcelona lost surprisingly at home to newly-promoted Hercules in the second week of the season, while Real had tepid away 0-0 draws at Levante and Mallorca.

However, since the start of October, both teams have been racking up some big, big wins, while Madrid are unbeaten in all competitions this season.

The match will also provide another fascinating opportunity to compare the talents of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, who have both been finding the net almost at will in the last two months.

Both men had mediocre World Cup campaigns for their respective countries in South Africa but have since rediscovered their hunger for the game and are making late bids to get the first Fifa Ballon D'Or.

The mathematics surrounding the match are simple. Real lead their traditional rivals by a point but a Barca win means that they will have a two-point advantage at the top of the table and a superior goal difference.

Both teams are not expected to have any absentees through injury or suspensions. Real's Gonzalo Higuain and Sami Khedira both got knocks in the 5-1 thrashing of Athletic Bilbao last Saturday and missed Tuesday's 4-0 victory over Ajax but are expected to be fit for Monday.

If expectations are high for a classic, there are not many people that are happy about the scheduling of El Clasico on a Monday - for only the third time in the game's history.

General Francisco Franco was still in power on 3 April, 1972 when the two teams met on a Monday. If you are looking for omens, Barcelona won 1-0 but Real went on to win the league.

As Marca wrote on its front page back on 12 November, the day after the Nou Camp El Clasico date was confirmed, "Nobody wants this match played on a Monday, but it will be on a Monday."

In an online poll the day after, in which more than 16,000 people voted, 83.4% of respondents said that they actively thought it was a bad idea to play the game on a Monday. Both clubs have also said that they would much prefer to play the game on Sunday.

"It'll be a weird sensation and it's not good for the fans," stated Spain's World Cup-winning striker Villa, who will be playing in his first El Clasico after moving from Valencia to the Nou Camp in the summer.

As is so often is the case, the fans end up being short changed.

The date was only confirmed barely two weeks before the game itself, which has meant that thousands upon thousands of people have had to change their plans, sometimes at great expense.

Many Barcelona fans from the city or surrounding area will now be working or unable to get to the match in time for the 2000 GMT kick-off.

Others travelling from further afield, including overseas fans who have bought 'match packages', will also no longer be able to see the game, having booked return trips for Monday after a weekend in the Catalan city.

The news that the game was going to be on a Monday became public knowledge in the most unsatisfactory fashion when Jaume Roures, the founder and major shareholder of television company Mediapro and also known in the English-speaking world as the producer of the Woody Allen film 'Vicky Cristina Barcelona', mentioned it in passing on early morning radio.

"There are 80,000 people, many of them Barcelona fans who are working on the local Catalan elections on the Sunday. This could obviously be a problem in terms of security," Roures said.

However, the fact that it was a TV company showing the game and not La Liga officials - or public authorities, if security was indeed an issue - who made the announcement caused a few raised eyebrows.

A few sceptics wondered if the real reason, with this Saturday not a realistic option owing to Barcelona playing in the Champions League last Wednesday, might have had something to do Mediopro's desire to boost their rather modest Monday match viewing figures and stop shareholder discontent.

Apart from Mediapro shareholders, perhaps one of the few people to benefit from the scheduling has been Bob Geldof.

The Boomtown Rats have never been particularly popular in Spain but Sir Bob will be pocketing a few more royalties in the coming months as quite a few Spanish radio stations gave their old UK number one hit 'I Don't Like Mondays' a good airing in the middle of sports programmes during the last two weeks.

There will be a live text commentary of Barcelona v Real Madrid on the BBC Sport website, starting at 1900 GMT on Monday.

Comments on this blog in the space below. Other questions on European football to: europeanfootball@hotmail.co.uk I don't need your full address but please put the town/city and country where you come from.

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  • 1. At 3:03pm on 27 Nov 2010, Max H Thomas wrote:

    I'm going for a 0-0 non-classico. Both teams to cancel each other out.

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  • 2. At 3:25pm on 27 Nov 2010, verminator_05 I WILL BE BACK wrote:

    this has to be a low scoring game. its a bit inevitable with Mourinho is charge of Madrid......

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  • 3. At 3:34pm on 27 Nov 2010, The Doghead wrote:

    Hehe... Gerald Pique...

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  • 4. At 3:41pm on 27 Nov 2010, Jack wrote:

    Phil, I must disagree with your claim in the second paragraph.

    I'm an Athletic fan and the game I've been waiting for this season is next week.

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  • 5. At 3:44pm on 27 Nov 2010, porkchopexpress wrote:

    verminator_05 we won the fairplay league for rambo - Talking rubbish.

    Madrid with Mou have been very attacking and both Real and Barca have scored 33 league goals this season. I expect a score draw, 2 or 3 each.

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  • 6. At 4:03pm on 27 Nov 2010, Mr Chelsea wrote:

    2. At 3:25pm on 27 Nov 2010, verminator_05 we won the fairplay league for rambo wrote:
    this has to be a low scoring game. its a bit inevitable with Mourinho is charge of Madrid......

    =====================================

    5. At 3:44pm on 27 Nov 2010, porkchopexpress wrote:
    verminator_05 we won the fairplay league for rambo - Talking rubbish.

    Madrid with Mou have been very attacking and both Real and Barca have scored 33 league goals this season. I expect a score draw, 2 or 3 each.

    ===============

    Dont mind arsenal fans

    they're still bitter over the fact that mourinho used to get the better of wenger when he was over here in england

    rarely do arsenal fans have a good word to say about jose

    anyway im hoping for 2-0 madrid win.

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  • 7. At 4:19pm on 27 Nov 2010, Zeemo wrote:

    To echo #1 and #2...

    This game has got 0-0 written all over.
    JM still proud of his unbeaten home record run and would hate
    to lose it to Barca of all teams. Madrid will play the counter.

    Dont think Barca will rise to it. Both teams would take 0-0 right
    now if it was offered.

    The so called el-clasico will never be one until JM is incharged of
    one or the other.

    La Liga is the most boring league in Europe.

    Barca winning 0-8 last week!
    Madrid 1-5.

    I bet you anything Barca or Madrid win the league in Spain this season!!

    EPL is the place to be!!

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  • 8. At 4:28pm on 27 Nov 2010, nitchee wrote:

    As always, this is a hotly anticipated match. Mourinho will want to go for the win, but will mostly adopt a defensive tactic, for it is well known how powerful Barca are on the break. Ronaldo and Messi have both scored a fair few (to say the least), and I'm going for a 1-1 draw, with neither scoring.

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  • 9. At 5:08pm on 27 Nov 2010, db9thespoof wrote:

    "The mathematics surrounding the match are simple. Real lead their traditional rivals by a point but a Barca win means that they will have a two-point advantage at the top of the table and a superior goal difference."

    i thought la liga used head to head record as its tie-breaker, not goal difference.

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  • 10. At 5:37pm on 27 Nov 2010, U14480235 wrote:

    #7 How about United winning 7-1 this week?

    Bet you anything United or Chelsea win the league in England this season!!

    Italian / Dutch / French leagues are the place to be - if unpredictability is what you're searching for...

    To the match at hand I'm looking forward to this. Whilst RM have been my 2nd team for donkey's years (pretty much since Hierro and Zamarano were there), I'd be amused to see Mourinho's press conference if they were beaten. Spanish omelette anyone?

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  • 11. At 5:39pm on 27 Nov 2010, AntonioSaucedo wrote:

    I'm gonna go out on a limb on tnis one, y'all: Barcelona 3 Real Madrid 1. Ronaldo, Pipita and Alonso won't be able to outmatch Messi, Xavi and Iniesta.

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  • 12. At 5:50pm on 27 Nov 2010, Zeemo wrote:

    #10...

    How about Villa 2-2 Utd a couple of weeks back!!
    Cracking game!

    How about West Brom holding Utd at OT!!

    How about Sunderland smacking Chelsea at the Bridge!!

    Newcastle teaching Arsenal a lesson recently!

    Arsenal, Spurs, City will all give Chelsea and Utd a run for there money!!

    Whos going to challenge Barca and Madrid???

    The 3rd placed team in La Liga is already 8pts behind!!!

    Excitement, thrills, competitive games......

    EPL....setting the bench mark as always!!

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  • 13. At 5:51pm on 27 Nov 2010, Stiger93 wrote:

    Ronaldo played poorly in the World Cup, Messi played well. It is lazy to look only at goals columns and say they both underachieved. After all, Del Bosque himself said Messi should have ben awarded the golden ball, not Forlan. Though that seems over the top, it is undeniably true that Messi was very much better than Ronaldo in the World Cup.

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  • 14. At 6:27pm on 27 Nov 2010, ilikethespecialone wrote:

    Typically both team will not want to lose, however do not forget, Messi and Cristiano will be playing, a little magic from any of them can make the game real interesting.

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  • 15. At 6:45pm on 27 Nov 2010, Fabtastic unlike fabiyankee wrote:

    barca is la liga's arsenal so they would do the job on our behalf since Mourinho dint last long enough to be beaten by the Gunners and if barca fails, we wd get the job done in the champions league.

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  • 16. At 6:48pm on 27 Nov 2010, mrhbo247 wrote:

    Cristiano Ronaldo will score and Madrid will win 2-1. Mourinho is a magician!

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  • 17. At 6:52pm on 27 Nov 2010, soccernerd wrote:

    Murinho will spring one of those spectacular performances that only he can orchestrate. I see a 2-0 Real win.

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  • 18. At 6:52pm on 27 Nov 2010, RidRed wrote:

    Phil, you really should have pointed out that "Hola Don Pepito. Hola Don José", is rather more than just a headline from Marca.

    It's one of the most iconic children's songs in Spain.

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  • 19. At 6:59pm on 27 Nov 2010, freddawlanen wrote:

    This may sound cynical Phil, but how eactly has Guardiola proven that he's a coach and tactician of outstanding calibre?

    As far as I'm aware he has only ever managed Barca, he took over a very solid team which just happened to include a 20-21 year old who's become arguably the best player on the planet and he has spent a small (or large depending on your viewpoint) fortune keeping them at the top.
    Sam Allardyce may have been pilloried for his comments about winning major trophies with a club of this standard (even if he didn't mention Barca), but it certainly doesn't take a great coach to do so.

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  • 20. At 7:06pm on 27 Nov 2010, Vikram_Raj wrote:

    I hate to say this but Real madrid will just scratch it 1-0 but ronaldo and messi both will have an horrible game....the game will be decided by alonso and dimaria and ozil and for barca xavi and villa will have more impact.....mark my words both ronaldo and messi will be horrible for the whole game

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  • 21. At 7:11pm on 27 Nov 2010, Felix wrote:

    its an easy 4-4

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  • 22. At 7:12pm on 27 Nov 2010, Ben Mayer wrote:

    #12

    Competitive games. Oh jesus.

    Nobody can seriously argue the EPL is the place to be. Predictable football and tables (yes some surprises but i don't think the top4 are going to change), poor atmosphere (you can hear the players shout on the pitch when you're watching it on tv, that's how quiet it is. on some champions league nights there will be good atmosphere like at Spurs or Old trafford, but weekly matches at OT are like sitting in a library. ), money is destroying the game (wayne rooney to name the most recent case and ticket prices ridiculous. to name one example not from the premiership, a season ticket for Southampton costs around 300 quid which is laughable) and it's only a way for the English to escape the fact that England is destroying their youth and grass-root football through greed. Maybe the best league in the world, but at a huge cost.

    Go back to real football in Germany or France.

    The EPL is every bit as predictable as La Liga. In the last 15 years there were 3 different champions in England (6 compared to Germany)

    WHOOOOOOOOOOO how unpredictable!!!!

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  • 23. At 7:17pm on 27 Nov 2010, eezy_squeezy wrote:

    Spain is a two horse race, much like Scotland. Though, these two horses in particular are no doubt thoroughbreds, it doesn't take away from the fact.

    El classico is a great game, but La Liga not that exciting due to their continued dominance.

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  • 24. At 7:20pm on 27 Nov 2010, Zell wrote:

    19. At 6:59pm on 27 Nov 2010, freddawlanen wrote:
    This may sound cynical Phil, but how eactly has Guardiola proven that he's a coach and tactician of outstanding calibre?

    =================================================================
    he kind of has. sure messi xavi and inista are now the toast of europe, but before guardiola, xavi and iniesta,the guys who keep barca ticking over, werent getting a lot of games- didnt even start the 2006 champs final. barca were very reliant on ronaldinho and although he was disruptive, it took some huge cajones and forsight from guardiola to get rid of him. getting rid of ronaldinho was one of the best things to happen to barca as it allowed the barca team to flourish.

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  • 25. At 7:22pm on 27 Nov 2010, Isaac wrote:

    #12
    ... nope. If you want to prove anything about the Reeling off a list of the only anecdotal matches you can recall (4) from a league with 380 matches won't do.

    This will.

    Premier League winners:
    2010. Chelsea
    2009. Manchester United
    2008. Manchester United
    2007. Manchester United
    2006. Chelsea
    2005. Chelsea
    2004. Arsenal
    2003. Manchester United
    2002. Arsenal
    2001. Manchester United
    2000. Manchester United
    1999. Manchester United...

    NEXT.

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  • 26. At 7:54pm on 27 Nov 2010, Virtuet wrote:

    Eight World Cup winners plus Valdes, Alves and Messi probably stronger than any World Cup winning team, possibly the strongest team of all time, (even when Real had ZZ, Figo, Carlos etc they had a relatively weak central defence) if Mourinho can beat this lot he must be a genius. Cannot see it myself but I will be pleasently surprised if he does.

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  • 27. At 8:06pm on 27 Nov 2010, Spartacus wrote:

    If, as some are suggesting, this turns out to be a damp squib of a 0-0 - and I sincerely hope it does not - it will reinforce the idea of moving to awarding a point apiece only for score-draws, and nothing for goalless draw.

    At the start of each game, both teams would know that in order to take anything points-wise, they MUST score!

    3 pts - win
    1 pt - score draw
    0 pts - loss, or no-score draw

    Defence has its place in the game, but it is all about avoiding a loss rather than trying to secure a win.

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  • 28. At 8:07pm on 27 Nov 2010, Spartacus wrote:

    Hi, I'm Phil Minshull. I've lived in Spain since 1997 and covered Spanish football since the first day I got here.


    Okay, what happened on that first day..?

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  • 29. At 8:08pm on 27 Nov 2010, Spartacus wrote:

    My blog aims to provide some insight into what's happening in La Liga, and there is much more to it than only Real and Barcelona...

    Really?

    You wouldn't guess from this particular blog entry....

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  • 30. At 8:34pm on 27 Nov 2010, Tori_torres8 wrote:

    Want messi and jose both win.don't know how its possible.

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  • 31. At 8:50pm on 27 Nov 2010, d8xter wrote:

    "Both Guardiola and Mourinho - the last two winners of the Champions League, with Barca in 2009 and Inter Milan in 2010 - have proven that they are coaches and tacticians of outstanding calibre."

    Disagree with tactician bit of Guardiola, his philosophy might be outstanding and the squad he inherited.

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  • 32. At 9:09pm on 27 Nov 2010, Wazza v3 wrote:

    Be glad when it's all over tbh. 3 weeks of hype and build up is more than i can take. Probably another few weeks of post match analysis to come too...And then it all starts again in April. What fun!

    La Liga really needs to take a look at the way they promote the league outside of Spain. If they put 10% of the effort that they put into el clasico then maybe people wouldn't be so cynical.

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  • 33. At 9:15pm on 27 Nov 2010, robayeit wrote:

    if u want an unpredictable league then look at the championship.

    Also i can see this been a 0-0 if some1 wins i will slowly put my money towards Real as mourinho seems to have a knack of snatching odd goal wins

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  • 34. At 9:18pm on 27 Nov 2010, Zeemo wrote:

    #25.....

    You mention my list of 4 that I named because they are recent matches, then ignore the rest of my post and inturn the point I am making.

    Selective reading!?

    Spurs, Arsenal and City could all run Chelsea and Utd close.
    Tell me, who will run Barca and Madrid close?

    Villareal? 8 pts off the lead? Espanyol? With a negative goal diff sat in 4th place??
    Or maybe A Madrid or Seville? A further 12pts behind already??

    Chelsea or Utd could well win the league but it wont be with a record of something like - P38 W35 D2 L1 F104 A16 - which is something like the record the champs of la liga will have have come May!!

    NEXT??

    SEE YA!!



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  • 35. At 9:31pm on 27 Nov 2010, Zeemo wrote:

    #22 wrote........

    #12
    Competitive games. Oh jesus.

    'Nobody can seriously argue the EPL is the place to be. Predictable football and tables......' and then wrote 'Maybe the best league in the world, but at a huge cost.'
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    Cost or no cost, if the EPL is the best league in the world then surely its the place to be?

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  • 36. At 9:47pm on 27 Nov 2010, In Off The Ghost wrote:

    The Spanish league is like a glorified SPL. All be it with the two best players in the world.

    If it is a choice between having the best players in the world or having a more competitive league where the outcome of every season isn't set in stone, I know which one I would choose (the latter, if anyone wasn't sure!)

    http://www.inofftheghost.wordpress.com

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  • 37. At 10:13pm on 27 Nov 2010, grammarpolice-ish wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 38. At 11:33pm on 27 Nov 2010, wilbnews wrote:

    Phil Minshull is clearly biased in favour of Barcelona. Sent him to report Africa football, and bring someone clean on the Spanish board.

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  • 39. At 00:45am on 28 Nov 2010, Isaac wrote:

    #34

    "Chelsea or Utd could well win the league but it wont be with a record of something like - P38 W35 D2 L1 F104 A16 - which is something like the record the champs of la liga will have have come May!!"

    Thought I saw something funny there. I'll look again.

    "P38 W35 D2 L1 F104 A16"

    Men in white coats will be round shortly.

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  • 40. At 02:13am on 28 Nov 2010, Angelina Love is sobeautiful I wishshewasmywife wrote:

    I think that Real Madrid will win by the odd goal but I am sure that goal scorer will not be Cristiano Ronaldo.

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  • 41. At 03:34am on 28 Nov 2010, Egulle wrote:

    in response to some above comments, i think german league is the most exciting and unpredictable. really, check that out

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  • 42. At 08:13am on 28 Nov 2010, Zeemo wrote:

    #39...

    Barcelonas record last season - W31 D6 L1 F98 A 24 PTS 99
    They finished 28pts ahead of third placed Valencia!

    The season before they won la liga finishing 17pts ahead of third placed Seville!

    Last season Chelsea finished 11pts ahead of third placed Arsenal in a season which was in the most part a 3 horse race.

    The 2 previous seasons Utd finished 7pts and 4pts ahead of third.

    White coats?
    Yeah, good one.

    Enjoy your Weetabix, my son.
    Leave the sensible comments to the grown ups.

    Sshhhhhhhhhh

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  • 43. At 10:18am on 28 Nov 2010, Eliot wrote:

    Make no doubt about it the Bundesliga is the one to watch! Unpredictable, free flowing, cavalier football. Bayern may be the 'topdogs' in more ways than one (though not in terms of league position as it stands)but there is no feeling of inevitabilty and cartelisation like in England, Spain and Italy or to a certain extent even France or Holland.
    Couple this with the highest crowds in Europe, with the controlled terracing and with affordable ticket prices and you've got a much better all round league im my humble opinion!

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  • 44. At 11:16am on 28 Nov 2010, what a shot wrote:

    The Bundesliga maybe be a bit more unpredictable than the EPL but it certainly hasn't got the strength in depth of the EPL. Only Bayern have done well in the Champions League recently, while Man U, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool have reached the semis/finals of the Champions League consistently for the past 5/6 years.

    With Spurs looking very accomplished in the CL and Man City having bucket loads of cash, the EPL will possibly have 6 extremely strong teams vying for the CL places in the coming seasons (if Liverpool can get back to where they were a couple of seasons ago). The EPL certainly has the best strength in depth in Europe and arguably the most entertaining league in the world (unless you hate fast paced, high energy football).

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  • 45. At 11:22am on 28 Nov 2010, WordsofWisdom wrote:

    Yes, we all have a passing interest in the Old Firm games. Celtic or Rangers.....take your pick.

    La Liga is now oficially a farce, dominated by two giant teams who even cut their own TV deals, leaving the rest to pick-up the crumbs. It will be so for a long time now.

    So in terms of 'El Classico'.............who cares!

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  • 46. At 11:30am on 28 Nov 2010, Aziz wrote:

    #12 and #19

    #12 Firstly the Spanish league holds exciting teams who play attractive football, and you have more quality teams in this league sadly than in england where teams expensively assemble squads, but you at least six genuine good teams in Spain, in Scotland Rangers and Celtic would't even be able to match Atletico Madrid.

    #19 Pep didnt inherit a squad functioning well, he took on a squad that was bordering on a very fragile line, he had the vision and tactical awareness to offload several key players and then he marshalled together his own match-winning squad, he established the philosophy, culture and principles educated into him by the Barcelona academy, he reinvented Eto'o and allowed Xavi and Iniesta to play to their strengths, just look at how his tactics engineered the downfall of man utd and so many countless teams, he carefully anaylyses the opponent, targets the weakest link, but always plays to his own team's quality and strength...

    i still maintain my belief that West Ham will beat any Spanish team at Upton Park though,

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  • 47. At 11:34am on 28 Nov 2010, Mambo123 wrote:

    yo fantastic game and fantastik article phil mcnumptie. Pep vs Jose round 2 fight, in a battle of spanish titans for many to come...

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  • 48. At 11:36am on 28 Nov 2010, Aziz wrote:

    For those who repeatedly maintain that the Spanish league is increasingly two-horse races, what about the English league? Last decade or so, it's been heavily dominated by Man Utd with Arsenal and Chelsea offering lightweight challenges while before liverpool ruled england, chelsea and man city assembled their teams simply through huge amounts of money, whereas if you turn to spain, casting aside Florintino Perez and his footballing philosophy on purchasing a team, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Sevilla, Getafe...all these teams have gelled together players who are products of their successful academy system. barcelona produced Xavi, iniesta, messi, fabregas, puyol, pique, valdes, bojan, pedro and so many others...sevilla produced reyes, diego capel, diego perotti, jesus nevas, sergio ramons...how can anyone seriously question the committment of spanish clubs? they don't buy success, they try to make their success however long it takes.

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  • 49. At 11:51am on 28 Nov 2010, redletterboy wrote:

    This chatter about Real vs. Barca is all well and good, but this isn't even the biggest game going on on Monday night. Where's the blog about Leicester vs. Forest, hey BBC?

    In all seriousness though, I hope Barca win, and win convincingly. My preference for them is more on ideology than anything football related, but I also think it was typical of Jose to purposefully get those 2 players sent off in the week. I'm sure he was technically within his rights, but it makes for pretty awkward viewing.

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  • 50. At 11:51am on 28 Nov 2010, northbankgunner wrote:

    #48, how much did Barca and Real spend last summer?

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  • 51. At 11:54am on 28 Nov 2010, redletterboy wrote:

    Oh, and Phil, I haven't read through to see if someone's already noticed this, but I'm pretty sure it's Gerard Pique, not Gerald.

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  • 52. At 11:57am on 28 Nov 2010, colinbell wrote:

    A few weeks ago on telly Souness said that coaches can only do so much and that it's down to the players. It is true, except that there is one coach who can single handedly make a difference and it is of course Mourinho.

    We see players weekly in the premier league strolling, not tracking, passing and standing still. Occasionally they go mad when they're playing Chelsea or Arsenal or it's a derby. Teams usually roll over against United because they all respect them and Ferguson too much for some reason. And before anyone says what about all their draws this season, it's because they've been so poor, like Chelsea
    Until PL players are brought back down to earth we'll continue to see sometimes exciting but ultimately mediocre football.
    Bankers and footballers- too much money for too little work and 'talent' whatever that is

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  • 53. At 11:59am on 28 Nov 2010, Jimmy wrote:

    With all the debate over EPL vs La Liga, can I just point out that both leagues are dominated by 2 teams, as we can clearly see.

    Premier League: Primera Division:
    2010. Chelsea 2010. Barcelona
    2009. Manchester United 2009. Barcelona
    2008. Manchester United 2008. Real Madrid
    2007. Manchester United 2007. Real Madrid
    2006. Chelsea 2006. Barcelona
    2005. Chelsea 2005. Barcelona
    2004. Arsenal 2004. Valencia
    2003. Manchester United 2003. Real Madrid
    2002. Arsenal 2002. Valencia
    2001. Manchester United 2001. Real Madrid
    2000. Manchester United 2000. Deportivo La Coruña

    Personally, I prefer to watch La Liga, but each to their own. I agree with some of the others comments though, that although Bundesliga is by no means the best league in europe, it has big crowds, competitive football and entertaining games. But, would still rather watch Atletico v Valencia than Newcastle v Aston Villa, that's my own preference.

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  • 54. At 12:21pm on 28 Nov 2010, fatClyde wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 55. At 2:09pm on 28 Nov 2010, U7161659 wrote:

    Another boring Spanish media summary by Phil Minshull. No idea how he got the job at the BBC.

    No doubt you'll remove my comment, as you always censor criticism.

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  • 56. At 2:09pm on 28 Nov 2010, PhilNeville wrote:

    36. At 9:47pm on 27 Nov 2010, In Off The Ghost wrote:
    The Spanish league is like a glorified SPL. All be it with the two best players in the world.

    If it is a choice between having the best players in the world or having a more competitive league where the outcome of every season isn't set in stone, I know which one I would choose (the latter, if anyone wasn't sure!)

    http://www.inofftheghost.wordpress.com

    The outcome isn't set in stone you say?
    Well, how do you explain how there are only two big teams (like in La Liga) and how Celtic and Rangers are the only teams to have EVER won the SPL, quite set in stone that.

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  • 57. At 2:57pm on 28 Nov 2010, guyastral wrote:

    indeed, Monday night for a Clásico is a strange choice. Regarding this silly debate EPL v La Liga, it obviously comes down to personal choice, personally La Liga is the best for watching but the Bundesliga is the best for attending, the EPL is too expensive and over hyped.

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  • 58. At 3:28pm on 28 Nov 2010, Virtuet wrote:

    This blog has degenerated into a childish my league is better than your league, now who has got the biggest dad.

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  • 59. At 4:26pm on 28 Nov 2010, Nick wrote:

    I live in a small town an hour's drive from Barcelona. I teach English here, and I have lived here for three months. Previously, I had a great deal of respect for Barca, but it is SO boring to be in a place where EVERYONE supports ONE team. Go Madrid (but don't tell my students I said that!)

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  • 60. At 5:35pm on 28 Nov 2010, BigGiantHead wrote:

    yeh lets be honest, the EPL isn't the best league in the world for its unpredictability of winners, to argue that would be ridiculous. its blackpool putting the cat amongst the pigeons, bolton playing beautiful football and in 5th, man city spending like nutters and still failing (for now), and 5 points separating half the table. tottenham, aston villa having world class players that in every other league would be stolen away.

    anyway the best league in the world is the championship. don't forget it.

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  • 61. At 6:57pm on 28 Nov 2010, SportsFan wrote:

    The English Premier League is the best league in the world with a global audience watching it and is generating loads of money
    The main reason why the EPL is the best is because there are loads of foreign players playing and that's what makes it exciting. Without them the EPL would not be exciting

    But tomorrow's Real Madrid v Barcelona match has to be the best match of this season and a lot more exciting that the classic Manchester United v Liverpool in the EPL.

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  • 62. At 7:19pm on 28 Nov 2010, WindsorPark15percent happy days wrote:

    Would love to see two Madrid players get sent off in this game!

    Instant Karma!!!

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  • 63. At 8:25pm on 28 Nov 2010, Phil Minshull wrote:


    db9thespoof: “i thought la liga used head to head record as its tie-breaker, not goal difference.” Only in the second half of the season when both teams have played each other home-and-away.

    stiger1993: “Ronaldo played poorly in the World Cup, Messi played well.” I don’t agree with your view on Messi. Admittedly he started well with good games against Nigeria and South Koreas but Greece (in particular Sokratis Papastathopoulos) marked his very effectively. He had some good runs early in the game against Mexico and made Carlos Tevez’s (arguably offside) first goal but had a quiet second half and, when it counted, against Germany he really didn’t do very much, which lead to Argentina’s downfall as Maradona had built their attack around him.

    freddawlanen: “This may sound cynical Phil, but how exactly has Guardiola proven that he's a coach and tactician of outstanding calibre?” A fair question, nothing cynical about it, and thank you saqhemed for leaping to my defence I can’t answer better than cut-and-pasting WestHamSupporter’s comments. “Pep didn’t inherit a squad functioning well, he took on a squad that was bordering on a very fragile line, he had the vision and tactical awareness to offload several key players and then he marshalled together his own match-winning squad, he established the philosophy, culture and principles educated into him by the Barcelona academy, he reinvented Eto'o and allowed Xavi and Iniesta to play to their strengths, just look at how his tactics engineered the downfall of man utd and so many countless teams, he carefully anaylyses the opponent, targets the weakest link, but always plays to his own team's quality and strength.” I’d also say that his success with Barca in such a short period of time backs up my comments about his coaching ability

    Spartacus: “Hi, I'm Phil Minshull. I've lived in Spain since 1997 and covered Spanish football since the first day I got here. - Okay, what happened on that first day?” I got sent straight up the road (by the news agency I was working for) to the Santiago Bernabeu stadium to cover a press conference announcing Jupp Heynckes appointment as the Real Madrid coach. June 25, if my memory serves me correctly.

    wilbenews: “Phil Minshull is clearly biased in favour of Barcelona. Sent him to report Africa football, and bring someone clean on the Spanish board.” I’ll ask the BBC’s African football expert Piers Edwards if he’s interested in swapping! However, in the meantime, I’ll put my head on the block and my prediction for the match is 2-1 in favour of Barca. However, regardless of what some might think, that shouldn’t be construed as an overall bias for Barca, just a prediction on the specific game itself.

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  • 64. At 9:09pm on 28 Nov 2010, John Lias wrote:

    Moving the game to Monday is a disgrace.


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  • 65. At 10:53pm on 28 Nov 2010, VAMOS wrote:

    If it is a choice between having the best players in the world or having a more competitive league where the outcome of every season isn't set in stone, I know which one I would choose (the latter, if anyone wasn't sure!)

    -------

    Funny that, an English fan picking a criteria which picks the English league. Why is there always so much pride and argument about which league is best? Is this the only thing worth clinging on to with the national team in the toilet?

    There are so many criterias about which is better, uefa cup shows the prems depth as pretty poor and the eye sores of ungry physical route one football which is employed by half the teams is quite frankly, even if you call it exciting, is a disgrace to football. You can watch any la liga game and there will be better technique and passing than any prem game.

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  • 66. At 11:10pm on 28 Nov 2010, Uchiha_Sasuke wrote:

    1-0 higuain, ozil assist, ricardo carvalho man of the match!

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  • 67. At 09:08am on 29 Nov 2010, Vox Populi wrote:

    65. At 10:53pm on 28 Nov 2010, VAMOS wrote:
    If it is a choice between having the best players in the world or having a more competitive league where the outcome of every season isn't set in stone, I know which one I would choose (the latter, if anyone wasn't sure!)

    -------

    Funny that, an English fan picking a criteria which picks the English league. Why is there always so much pride and argument about which league is best? Is this the only thing worth clinging on to with the national team in the toilet?

    There are so many criterias about which is better, uefa cup shows the prems depth as pretty poor

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    How does the UEFA Cup/Europa League show the Premiership as poor in depth? Fulham got to the final last season, and they are not one of the top 5 teams in England, while Atletico Madrid are one of the big five in Spain. Middlesbrough also reached the UEFA Cup final in recent years, and they are not one of England's big teams.

    You accuse english fans of being biased, but you are hardly unbiased yourself are you?

    If you know anything about your own country, you will know that the history of Spanish football is primarily about Real/Barca and the league winners have usually been Real Madrid or Barcelona since the 1940s/1950s. Yes, Atletico Madrid have occasionally had their moment, Athletic Bilbao occasionally, Valencia occasionally but Real and Barca are way out in front of any other club in terms of titles won.

    The Man Utd domination in England only started in the 1990s, and it's only been about Man Utd/Chelsea since Abramovich bought the Blues in 2003.

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  • 68. At 10:48am on 29 Nov 2010, weezer316 wrote:

    La liga has become a two horse race, but thats simply because barca have been so ridiculous. Real have spent incredible sums (current squad cost just shy of half a billion euros) to catch them. That doesnt say the reast of the league is weak, its just the top 2 are soo good.

    Personally Id fancy athletico or sevilla/valencia to challenge for the premier league. I would expect any english side to challenge real/barca though, they are simply too far ahead at the moment

    But....these things go in cycles. italy isnt gonna be poor forever and I can remember serie A being so ludicrously competitive 7 teams used to fight for the title till about easter

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  • 69. At 12:43pm on 29 Nov 2010, Frank T J Mackey wrote:

    This may sound cynical Phil, but how exactly has Guardiola proven that he's a coach and tactician of outstanding calibre

    By winning almost every competition he has entered as a coach? He has also worked under some fine mamagers in his time and been heavily involved in Barcelona in a coaching capacity for some years.

    It takes my breath away when some folk comment about someone at the top of their profession when they may have only had some brief fling with a pub team to boast of

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  • 70. At 12:47pm on 29 Nov 2010, Kevin wrote:

    Funny how many posts reckon there'll be few (if any) goals in the game, largely down to Mourinho's more pragmatic style, especially when it comes to the big games. Strange then, that nobody thinks he'll spring somewhat of a surprise by playing as they have done so far this season, i.e. with width, movement, possession, pace and flair. Starting line-ups?

    Barca: Valdes; Alves, Puyol, Piqué, Maxwell; Busquets, Xavi, Mascherano; Messi, Villa, Iniesta.
    Real: Casillas; Sergio Ramos, Carvalho, Pepe, Marcelo; Khedira, Alonso; Di María, Ozil, Ronaldo; Higuaín.

    Oh, I kind of agree with #53, though I think this season's Premiership will be won be someone other than Chelsea or Manc Scum.

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  • 71. At 12:50pm on 29 Nov 2010, Akpos Matthew wrote:

    A winner must emerge as it is being eagerly anticipated and i forsee The special one jubilating at the end of a blackbuster perfomance against barca. Less than 7hrs to go. Mourinho will have an edge against Guadiola. 1-0 in his(MOURINHO) favour.

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  • 72. At 2:10pm on 29 Nov 2010, SS11 wrote:

    #15 - Are you day dreaming? Thats an hilarious statement.

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  • 73. At 2:12pm on 29 Nov 2010, SS11 wrote:

    Both teams will play it very tight in midfield. May the best man win.

    I personally want Messi to outshine Ronaldo and help Barca beat Moorinho's men.

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  • 74. At 2:14pm on 29 Nov 2010, Kevin wrote:

    #71 - a "blackbuster performance"? Don't bring race into it! ;-)

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  • 75. At 2:15pm on 29 Nov 2010, Kevin wrote:

    P.S. #15 - ROFL.

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  • 76. At 4:31pm on 29 Nov 2010, Ad1969 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 77. At 5:02pm on 29 Nov 2010, T J Newton wrote:

    Some crazy gooner said earlier that Barca were representing Arsenal because Jose didn't stay around long enough for Arsenal to beat him.
    Blimey, he's not Moses. He'd need to live to 900 years old before Arsene outthinks him or his one dimensional, tactically naeive teams beat the master that is The Special One.

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  • 78. At 6:04pm on 29 Nov 2010, diggsgiggs wrote:

    This is a much tougher game to call than the matches last year. Benzema is playing much better this year, and RM have Ozil who is very under-rated. On the other hand, David Villa who took a while to bed in seems to have regained his former form.

    If you go down the team sheet and compare, maybe you'd shade RM just because Saint Iker is, on his day, the best goalkeeper in the world. But both teams are strong all over the pitch.

    As for the managers' tactics- I don't think in this game they are all that important. The teams know each other very well, they both know they have to play to not make mistakes and make sure they have as much possession as possible, and both have the flair players to take advantage of the slightest slip up. For me its not really about Mourinho's tactics, although his man management may be critical.

    2-1 Real Madrid

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  • 79. At 6:11pm on 29 Nov 2010, Mathew wrote:

    #29 and #30 - Spartacus made me chuckle.

    La Liga doesn't compare to the EPL, that's not me being patriotic, but apart from Hercules win over Barcelona, there is nothing else which really has made anyone sit up and taken notice. Fact.

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  • 80. At 6:28pm on 29 Nov 2010, VAMOS wrote:

    67. At 09:08am on 29 Nov 2010, Someone Less Imaginative Stole My Username

    Well I can use Espanyol, Alaves to counter your Boro / Fulham.

    What uefa cup does prove is that the prem is just as top heavy as this la liga. You talk about history, well the only reason the prem is more competitive in recent years is because 2 billionaires have created 2 teams out of thin air.

    Barca have reached new hights and mostly through organic growth I will add, before that in recent history Deportivo, sociadad, seville, villareal, could have all won the league and others live Valencia did. In the prem its united or arsenal or now its united or chelsea. Liverpool had 1/2 good years, that's all.

    You use last years gap as your example between 1st and 3rd but it's usually a closer thing and will be again when barca / madrid re build

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  • 81. At 7:05pm on 29 Nov 2010, CRvsLM wrote:

    Both Ronaldo and Messi are doing exceptionally well this season - I'm a bit sceptical about the idea that this will be a low-scoring game - but we'll see ....

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  • 82. At 7:08pm on 29 Nov 2010, CRvsLM wrote:

    Both Ronaldo and Messi are doing exceptionally well this season - i'm a bit sceptical about the idea that this will be a low scoring game but, we'll see what happens ..........

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  • 83. At 9:28pm on 29 Nov 2010, Joy wrote:

    HA HA HA!!! Okie.. now that Messi and Barca have Madrid seem like a championship team... I hope this puts this stupid debate to bed forever... Messi is just too good and does not deserve to compared with the likes of Ronalo... And people talking about 'heading' abilities can go take a hike and learn what football is about.. its about magic and creativity and these qualities win over other 'workman' attributes anyday!

    I am loving it...

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  • 84. At 9:37pm on 29 Nov 2010, CRvsLM wrote:

    Real just cannot seem to beat Barca - the last time they beat them was in 2008, when they beat them both home and away. Bad night for Real and Mourinho. Next up for Real, Valencia at home ......

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  • 85. At 9:48pm on 29 Nov 2010, CRvsLM wrote:

    Barca fans in heaven. Real fans in hell. Just imagine the frustration .... tika-tika, tika-taka, tika-taka .... to be on the received end of that is just, well, there is only one word - frustrating ! (I may sound like a Real fan - but I'm not)

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  • 86. At 9:54pm on 29 Nov 2010, A wet windy night in Stoke wrote:

    Real Madrid + Mourinho = Rubbish.

    Is Real Madrid for real? I could do better ball watching than those millionares!

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  • 87. At 9:59pm on 29 Nov 2010, CRvsLM wrote:

    Absolutely stellar performance from Barca. What a team ! What. A . Team. All the players absolutely gel together .... I mean ... how does it happen ?!

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  • 88. At 10:01pm on 29 Nov 2010, A wet windy night in Stoke wrote:

    What a sour end for Madrid. Breaking Leo Messi's legs would in no way revers the 5-0 hammering, although it looked like a couple of Madrid players thought so..

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  • 89. At 10:03pm on 29 Nov 2010, CRvsLM wrote:

    "two Real players do nothing more than try to break his legs" - I guess that's the only way to stop him. Pathetic. Let the boy play for goodness' sake !

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  • 90. At 10:07pm on 29 Nov 2010, CRvsLM wrote:

    At the moment, Real just look like a polished version of Man City !

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  • 91. At 10:10pm on 29 Nov 2010, Joy wrote:

    Ramos trying to break Messi's leg.. Ronaldo shoving Pep... Is this what 'champions' do?? Madrid is nothing but a team of sore losers who were reminded of their mediocrity today... the only person i felt sorry was for Casillas.... I hope Ramos is banned for 5 games at least and fined!

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  • 92. At 10:24pm on 29 Nov 2010, Nev wrote:

    #83: Joy
    You summed it up in your first three words.

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  • 93. At 10:47pm on 29 Nov 2010, 1stplaythenwin wrote:

    Finally someone to humble Maurhino, and what a way to do it. He has been disrespectful to every coach in the world including Cruyff, Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson. I know he now has a good relationship with Fergie, but he hasn't been gracious in the past, even when Man Utd won the league after he won his two titles with Chelsea. He gets sulky as soon as anyone says something negative, about him, which is always the truth. He can't handle the truth. For all he has won and will win as a coach, nobody will talk about his great side.
    Guardiola, is a fantastic coach and a very humble man. He has inherited a great side however, that should take nothing away from his greatness. He also know how to play football.
    Also an important lesson for the moneymen at Madrid, Chelsea and Man City, football is a team game and galacticos don't always work as a team.

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  • 94. At 10:47pm on 29 Nov 2010, frankiesaysuptheowls wrote:

    Id rather watch that Barca team than anything in the Premiership! They play football how it should be done! Brilliant without the ball, on another planet with it!

    All teams should aspire to play the Barca way!

    If EPL teams played the way the La Liga teams play our national team might be worth watching!

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  • 95. At 11:15pm on 29 Nov 2010, Chris Wilby wrote:

    To all those who said Mourinho is a magician: hahahahahahahah....

    Barca are the best team in centuries! On this form, no team can beat them!

    Suck on that, Jose!

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  • 96. At 11:51pm on 29 Nov 2010, VAMOS wrote:

    Hopefully Ramos will get a long ban in the league and likewise in the CL. What a coward and pathetic human being.

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  • 97. At 02:12am on 30 Nov 2010, Harry Abrikian wrote:

    The 'Special One'? or should he be called the 'Nattering One'? Barcelona were magnificent. Real had no answer to their assault. An 7-0 final scoreline would not have been farfetched.

    The 'Nattering One' should stop nattering and focus on winning on the pitch. That is where the game was played today and that is where Barca triumphed! Great Barca, great! You are the pride and joy of all who love and respect the beautiful game.

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  • 98. At 06:34am on 30 Nov 2010, A wet windy night in Stoke wrote:

    I love to watching the moment when a man's ego is broken. The manager formally know as 'the special one' looked half the size he is, wet, shivering in the cold, and clueless. He must have seen this night comming for the last 5 years. That Barcelona were one day going to break his ego infront of 100,000 on lookers and 4 million viewers, was just a matter of when, not if..

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  • 99. At 08:23am on 30 Nov 2010, CRvsLM wrote:

    I wonder how this will affect Real's morale ?

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  • 100. At 09:43am on 30 Nov 2010, Cantona54321 wrote:

    What a performance by Barcelona, they crushed Real Madrid and played football they way it should be played. It doesn't get better than this so just enjoy it and give credit where it's due.

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  • 101. At 8:45pm on 01 Dec 2010, Alex Cuthbert wrote:

    Really enjoyed this, if you did too try this blog also http://upper90magazine.wordpress.com/2010/12/01/premier-league-vs-la-liga/ on the premeier league compared to la liga

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  • 102. At 11:31pm on 01 Dec 2010, PabloPiatti wrote:

    @101 Alex Cuthbert..

    Barcelona were awesome the other day but your right... the question I often ask myselfis... is La Liga better than the Prem?

    Your blog post sums it up nicely fully recommend it!

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