First part of player analysis. Coaches/Tactical analysis to come later this week.
First and foremost: Messi vs. Ronaldo. Plenty has already been written but it boils down to great players show up in big games. And they don’t just show up. They twist the fate of the game to fit their will. Messi does that. Against Real Madrid, Messi is credited with involvement in 21 goals (13 scored, and eight assists). Several of those games, he single handedly stole the points away for Barcelona (including his hat trick at the Bernabeu and some dazzling goals in last years Champions league match). Ronaldo? He scored a game winner last year, but it was in the SuperCup. Where was in the champions league clashes? His only other goal otherwise has come off a penalty.
If you want to read more here is a good article summarizing Messi’s supreme domination.
Moving on to the other attackers:
Sanchez- Absolutely stunning performance from a young addition to Barcelona. No mistake in leaving Villa on the bench. Sanchez was a terrorist when Real Madrid had the ball and never stopped running when Barcelona had the ball. He completely neutralized Marcelo by pinning him deep in his end, and was able to draw plenty of fouls and the ire of Pepe and Xabi. Add in his brilliant finish and Sanchez put to shame any and all Clasico performances of any of the Real forwards in recent years.
Benzema- Great finish, solid play. Benzema has come a long way under Mouinho and is having a great season. He seemed the be the only threat in terms of creating chances ( that Ronaldo squandered). Several of the 4v4 break aways Real Madrid had Benzema was in deadly locations but his teammates couldn’t get him the ball.
Ozil- Failed to make an impact. His volley leading up to the Benzema goal was a weak effort at best, and when Mourinho gave up an extra defender for Ozil, his responsibility was to create a lot more than one half chance deflection. Lost chasing ghosts in the midfield and when Real Madrid did get breaks he was unable to pierce the Barcelona back line.
Fabregas- The equivalent of Ozil in this game, he did account for one goal on a fantastic header. However in the first frantic 20 minutes, he did nothing to help Barcelona get settled down. Once they did get their rhythm and the midfield giants had the passing game humming on all cylinders, he seemed to be lost and ineffective in creating chances. Once a team captain, he seemed to take a “let me just get out of their way” approach to the midfield duo.
More to come this week, comment and let me know what you think.