history | 2015-05-02
A historic win in a historic season
Real Madrid 2 - 6 Barcelona
It was the 2008/09 season, and Real Madrid had a run of 17 wins out of 18 games in La Liga, a near-perfect record, when their eternal rivals, FC Barcelona, came to town.
On this day, Real Madrid’s 19th game, the single blot to the Whites would be doubled, as FC Barcelona traveled to the Bernabéu and beat them. No wait, Barcelona destroyed Los Blancos. This win took Barcelona seven points clear at the top of La Liga, leaving Real Madrid behind, wounded. Two goals each from Lionel Messi and Thierry Henry, one from Carles Puyol and another from Gerard Piqué allowed Barcelona to leave Real Madrid in tatters.
It was Pep Guardiola’s first year as manager of Barcelona, and to travel to their rival’s backyard and annihilate them in the way Barça did, it cemented the Catalan team’s place in football history yet again with one of the most one-sided El Clásicos ever.
This game was a superb indication of Barcelona’s creative art. When Lionel Messi played a one-two with Xavi Hernandez, strolled into the penalty area and smoothly slotted it past Iker Casillas to end any chance of a Real Madrid revival to make it 5-2 with 15 minutes to go, you could see this Barcelona was dominant. If you have deeply analyzed the team, you could have easily predicted them to go onto a path of destruction throughout Europe, leaving pandemonium in their wake. Against Real Madrid, a global giant being stripped of their dignity with this dominant performance, it allowed neutrals to see just how good Chelsea’s 0-0 draw with the Catalan club was.
Real Madrid started off the better team, pressing high and snapping at Barcelona’s ankles. Sergio Ramos took the ball past Eric Abidal on the 14th minute, crossed it to Gonzalo Higuain who nodded it in. Things were looking good for Real and pretty poor for Barcelona. However, within four minutes of Higuain’s goal, Henry latched onto a Messi pass to coolly slot it past Iker Casillas and into the corner: 1-1.
Not long after Henry evaded Ramos, he did it again only to be fouled by Italian Fabio Cannavaro. Xavi delivered a free kick which Carles Puyol nodded home. Madrid might have closed the gap at the top of the league but Fernando Gago, along with Real Madrid’s other midfielders, couldn’t get near Xavi and Andres Iniesta. Gago and company were shipwrecked in the middle of an ocean of Barcelona creativity.
Messi looked like he couldn’t finish in this game, with chances such as a chip over Casillas and a shot from a ten-pass, perfectly constructed move hit straight at the keeper. Then, the 36th minute came and the Argentinian made it onto the score sheet. Lassana Diarra was dispossessed by Iniesta who slid Messi through. Barcelona was strolling. Real Madrid hardly saw the ball due to Barcelona’s impeccable passing.
It was 1-3 in the first half. The second half came and Ramos headed in an Arjen Robben free kick to reduce the deficit to one. This briefly reignited Real Madrid, but Henry put the flame out when he outsprinted Madrid’s defense to curl the ball into the net and regain Barcelona’s two-goal advantage. The final whistle came and Barcelona won by four goals, but even this didn’t do the game justice: it could have been more. Perhaps the most striking image of this game was Carles Puyol kissing his captain’s armband in the colors of the Catalan senyera.
Looking at the stats of the game, for those who like numerical data to compare teams, Barcelona had 63-percent possession compared to Real Madrid’s measly 37 percent. Barcelona also peppered Real Madrid’s goal with shots – 17 of them to be precise – with 13 of them hitting the target and six of them hitting the back of the net. Real Madrid managed five shots, four on target. It was total domination from Barcelona. Guardiola said post-match: “It is not easy to win at the Bernabéu and this is one of the happiest times of my footballing life, as we have made many people happy.”
The Catalan coach added, “We have taken a very big step towards winning the title. We wanted to kill it, to kill the league here. It's a very sweet night winning at this stadium and in front of these fans.
“It is not going to hurt ahead of the Chelsea game, either. It's going to put us in very good shape. We are going there to seal our place in the Champions League final.”
This match, portentously for Europe and the rest of the footballing world, led Barcelona to their first treble in the history of Spanish clubs – the league, the Champions League and the Cup.
Anything wrong? Send your correction.