Real Madrid 0-2 Barcelona: Xavi runs the show yet again

“The most eagerly-anticipated league match of the 2009/10 season, and a deserved win for Barcelona, who will now surely go on to win the title. Pep Guardiola sprung a surprise with his initial line-up, deploying Dani Alves as a right winger, with Carles Puyol at right-back, and Gabriel Milito coming into the centre of defence. Messi played centrally but drifted around, Pedro played from the left, and Keita was used more centrally than in previous matches.” (Zonal Marking)

Barcelona Win Deals Blow to Madrid
“Spain’s biggest selling daily – the sports newspaper Marca – billed it as the ‘Game of the Millenium.’ Most other media were somewhat more restrained, simply calling it the ‘final’ of La Liga. And while that may have been a bit premature – there are, after all, 7 games left in the Spanish league – there is little question that Barcelona’s 2-0 win at Real Madrid’s Bernabeu stadium dealt a body blow to the ‘Galacticos, v. 2.0’ as some have called Real’s expensively assembled squad.” (WSJ)

El Clasico
“I spent twelve hours sorting through the clichés and evasions trying to get to the truth, only to realize that the truth was in the cliché. Early in the first half, maybe even before the game started, Phil Schoen said Pellegrini would be fired if Madrid lost, because ‘right or wrong, that’s just how Madrid do business’.” (Run of Play)

Strikers’ Goal: Get Paid on Time
“Another goal from Lionel Messi and another inspired display by Barcelona decided Saturday night’s El Clásico derby against Real Madrid. Football fans are advised to savor the performance: It will be the last we see of La Liga for some time. There will be no football matches in Spain next weekend after the Spanish players union, the AFE, called a strike Friday over unpaid wages, which will halt games in the country’s top four leagues between April 16-19.” (WSJ)

Barcelona Makes Real Look Second Best
“The hour is midnight, but Madrid is not about to sleep anytime soon. Its team, Real, has just been outplayed and outclassed by Barcelona in Madrid’s own cathedral to sport, the Bernabéu. The 2-0 score line does not settle the Spanish league title, because each team has seven games yet to play. But, with goals from Lionel Messi and Pedro Rodríguez on Saturday, each of them created by the master passer, Xavi Hernández, this was indeed a defining night, another one in Barcelona’s omnipotent season.” (NYT)

The best player in the world plays in Spain
“English football has always had an uneasy relationship with all things continental. The absence of any teams from ‘The Best League In The World’ in the semi-finals of the Champions League this season has been greeted as a national disaster but this would not have always been the case. When the tournament was first created in 1955, Chelsea were forbidden from entering it by the Football League chairman, Alan Hardaker, and even the England team did not play in a World Cup until 1950.” (WSC)

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