The Clásico is over. We had been thinking about it for weeks. It had had all our attention since last Wednesday and we lived for it in the few hours before the initial blow. And it's gone, with all our ilussions of beating Barça and giving the decisive hit to this year's Liga BBVA. We were speaking about Clásico Memories on Sunday, before the game started, and I am pretty sure that this is one that we will retain quite easily, although this will be caused by opposite reasons to those we were commenting then.
I have to admit I have been dejected. I was really hoping our team to be successful last Sunday and I was -and I still am- convinced that, on paper, we were the superior side. Perhaps it was this self-confidence what made it so painful. It was our chance to bury them, and we lost it. However, I don't support the widespread opinion that this self-confidence is one of the reasons for us losing the game. On the contrary, I believe that Ancelotti's proposal is based on a certain conviction that Barcelona was the favourite.
Defend as a team.
Attack as a team.
These are Real Madrid's four commandments this season and we hardly saw them last Sunday. The low-pace game we have gotten used to was somewhere else. All our good chances came from individual actions, mostly performed by a heroic Di María. The blunt rock that was the greatest wall to defend our box, the one that did not conceed a single goal last January, stepped up to be splitted into sharp arrows that tried to steal the ball quite deeply into Barça's territory and ferociously hurt them, without bearing in mind the possible snatches a free Messi can throw.
This may sound quite romantic and it worked somehow, since we scored twice and, had Benzema been a bit more precise, we could have been leading by 3-1 or 4-1 by the twenty-fifth minute, but I think it was a terrible idea. Our rival's attacking midfielders (Xavi, Iniesta, Cesc) and Messi had a lot of ball possession below the aforementioned pressing line, and that's nothing but playing with fire. In fact, after the 0-1, Messi had a tremendous mistake in front of Diego López which would have cut our hopes to get a good result if he had scored.
My gut tells me that Ancelotti did not believe that his everyday idea would work against Barcelona and he decided to get into a back and forth game, where he trusted Madrid would take profit of our strikers and Barça's defensive weaknesses. But this was, in my opinion, a bad choice. This team is not built for that and has not shown nearly half the precision it had last year when counterattacking, and, if that was the primary plan, I don't think the players chosen were the best to implement it on the field (did you see Modric in the first half?).
Our coach is not the only one to blame, of course, and you all know what I am going to talk about now. I don't remember being so angry at a referee since last Clásico... Well, wait a minute. There seems to be a pattern to explore here.
Oh, now I get it, It was the same Undiano Mallenco in Camp Nou. He robbed us back then and he's awarded the honour of doing it again. And it's being said that he's going to be named the referee for the Copa del Rey final. Fantastic, now we know what we must expect.
Well, I don't actually share this opinion. I don't believe there's any kind of conspiracy to prevent us from winning the league or anything like that, but I do agree that this conception is very common and I find it silly from the Spanish Federation and the Referee Comittees to encourage this sort of views by taking decisions like this. It would have been really easy to choose any other referee to reduce the noise to a 50% of what it is right now. That being said, Undiano's work during the match was awful. I am not going to comment on it, since there's nothing new to add, but you'll agree with me that his influence was decisive to the final result.
There's a counterpart, however. I strongly think that our loss against Barça will be positive for the team. We had reached an state of euphoria after so many consecutive wins that was not sustainable, and I think our coach will be able to handle the new situation to turn it into a positive reinforcement for the team to perform with humility in the Champions League. I believe we are still clear candidates to win La Liga, and we must confirm that by beating Sevilla tomorrow. And, most importantly, I think the experience achieved in this loss will tell Carletto what he must try in the Copa del Rey final. I am pretty sure we'll see the most recognizable version of our team in Mestalla, and this is the one with better options to beat Barça.
So be it.