The Kings of Europe and 13-time Champions League winners Real Madrid have tended to ignore the story when it comes to their misdoings at home during the past decade. The results clearly suggest that Real are lacking when it comes to domestic glory despite being an indomitable force in Europe’s premier competition.
A total of just six trophies in Spain – two La Ligas, two Copa Del Reys and a couple of Spanish Super Cups. That’s what the Los Blancos have to show for all their domestic efforts since 2009 despite signing a plethora of stars like Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Kaka, Angel De Maria and Gareth Bale this past decade. However, the story is a polar opposite when we turn our heads towards their nemesis Barcelona.
Lionel Messi vs Real Madrid:— Rafael Hernández (@RafaelH117) December 23, 2017
25 Goals (Record)
14 Assists (Record)
Two Hattricks (Record)
15 Goals at the Bernabéu
Bow to the King pic.twitter.com/tijEPOx1SY
The Catalonian giants have reigned supreme in the past decade, winning seven league titles, six Copa Del Rey titles and six Spanish Super Cups. The credit goes to the exemplary vision that Pep Guardiola brought to the club in 2008 when he was appointed as head coach for the Blaugrana. He instructed his players to dominate possession, leaving the rival teams cornered and suffocated.
His plan worked because of players such as Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta, Xavi, Sergio Busquets, Dani Alves and David Villa, who possessed an innate ability to pass the ball with pin-point accuracy and open opposition defences. This approach worked wonders in Spain as the rival teams were not equipped to tackle the high possession and thus unable to maintain a high work rate as the Catalans.
Given the system that Guardiola imbibed in every player in his squad, the effects were surely expected to be long term as Barcelona posted an impeccable record at home, losing just 15 times at the Camp Nou since May 2009 across all competitions.
It was the 2008/09 season when Barcelona lifted their first continental treble (La Liga, Copa Del Rey and Champions League) and repeated a similar feat in the 2014/15 season, becoming the only team in football history to win a continental treble twice.
However, when it comes to the all-whites from Madrid, there is a noticeable shift in attitude and work-rate in Champions League encounters. Ronaldo’s reliance on his teammates to score goals is slightly higher than Messi, who plays the role of a creator to near perfection.
❗Record: Barcelona have won four consecutive La Liga Clásicos for the first time in history:— Barca Universal (@BarcaUniversal) March 2, 2019
Real Madrid 0-4 Barcelona
Real Madrid 2-3 Barcelona
Real Madrid 0-3 Barcelona
Real Madrid 0-1 Barcelona
Agg. 2-11 pic.twitter.com/HIz5KFY5vK
Los Blancos’ intensity takes a back seat in La Liga as the forwards usually fail to track back to diffuse the counter-attack or when reclaiming the ball, while the overall unit’s pressing instincts are nowhere close to the level of a Champions League encounter.
It is no surprise then that Real’s fast-paced and counter-attacking style of play works well in Champions League, as there are only a handful of games to be played in the competition. The opponents have only a game or two to adjust to Los Blancos’ craftsmanship and the experience of playing on a big stage works well for Real.
But La Liga paints a different picture as Real fail to adapt to the complexities of a long enduring season which their arch nemesis Barcelona seem to have mastered in these past 10 years. Even the El Clasicos in the past decade display Blaugrana’s dominance, having thrashed Real 6-2, 5-0 and 4-0 in the Spain Primera Division.
The bugles of Barcelona’s domineering times were sung innumerable times in the past decade, but Real need to get their priorities at home in order before venturing out in the European waters this season.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Christophe Simon