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Who Really Is The Best Team In Spain?

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It’s the mother of all battles. Gran Clasico. Real Madrid against Barcelona. Only here, my focus is not on a league meeting between the two teams. I’ll be doing a comprehensive analysis of both teams wrt the immediate future, say 3-4 years at the max. We’ll have a look at what makes these two so irresistible to watch.

Since the 2008-09 season, we have seen the rise of a team which is destined to go down in footballing history as a dream team; a team   players would give their all to play for. Barcelona. Their stars like Lionel Messi, Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique, Dani Alves etc are players who have formed the bedrock of their success.

They have won la liga for three consecutive seasons now and the mere fact that their bitter rivals Real Madrid are six points clear at the summit of La Liga is being viewed as a crisis speaks volumes about the level of success that is now viewed as `normal` at this iconic club. Crucial to their success has been the magical form of Messi who at 24 has already surpassed Cesar Rodriguez to become Barcelona’s all time top scorer.

He has at least seven amazing years ahead of him and it won’t surprise anyone if he turns out to be the Sachin Tendulkar of football and scores an insurmountable number of goals (sorry Pele but I doubt u would have been such a huge success in the modern game). He is an absolute genius and I am delighted that I can see him play as I live through my life instead of watching old clips like we have to for players like Yohan Cryuff, Pele, George Best, and Diego Maradona.

Barcelona have won the champions league twice during this period (2008-2011), beating Manchester United comfortably on both occasions. They, for me, are a team which will continue to be a very strong one for a considerable amount of time. Their youth academy, La Masia, is famous worldwide and they have one of the best young managers – Pep Guardiola – at the helm.

Teams try to emulate their approach so that they can get the same level of success as Barcelona has had. Their current crop of youngsters namely C.H.Tello, Gerard Deulofeu, Thiago, Isaac Cuenca are sought after by top teams across the world. Chelsea snapped up Oriol Romeu from Barcelona. He is 21.    

What a pity it would be for someone to be Florentino Perez right now. As the head of Real Madrid, Perez is compelled to stop the Barcelona juggernaut. That’s his job and there is no way he can hide from it. In his first spell at the club, he ruined it – big time. His galactic policy backfired and coaches were disposed off like lab rats. He drew widespread criticism and deservedly so.

In his second spell, however, things have been much better. He disposed off Manuel Pellegrini because the Chilean did not have the winning mentality needed to be a success at Real Madrid. What did Perez do? He went and got Jose Mourinho, the guy who, as manager of Inter Milan, had defeated Barcelona in the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions league the previous season and had gone on to win the trophy.

Under Jose, the team has not been over reliant on superstars and it’s far more youthful than before. Real, due to sporting as well as for political reasons, have to compulsively be better than Barcelona and their current team has the signs of champions. Led by their affable captain Iker Casillas,

Real have become a well oiled unit and currently hold a six point lead over Barcelona in the race for the la liga title. Cristiano Ronaldo has been the catalyst for Real`s success so far, much the same as Messi has been for Barcelona.

Real have good reasons to believe they can topple Barcelona and win major trophies this season onwards. Their team is much more compact and has got a greater sense of unity and team play which wasn’t there before. They have got players in great form namely Kaka, Mesut Ozil, Karim Benzema, Gonzalo Higuain, Xabi Alonso, Sergio Ramos, Iker Casillas and Ronaldo. They gave Barcelona a good run for their money in the meetings they have had this season.

Yes, they are still not as good as Barcelona is. But then, you can’t get instant success like you get instant noodles, can you?? The roadmap for real is clear: continue to build the team and challenge Barcelona at every step of the way. A La Liga triumph this season will go a long way in convincing everybody that they are a big force to be reckoned with. They must adopt Obama`s election winning slogan: YES, WE CAN!.

To conclude, the battle between these two sides will go on and on and on. It’ll be a see-saw affair with either side trumping the other ever so often. The quality of players on both sides is so much that whenever they meet, sparks are bound to fly. Barcelona fans rightly deserve the upper hand as of now but Real Madrid, I am sure, will be trying their level best to get one over their rivals. 

By Yashasvee Prasad