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La Liga Debate: Jose Mourinho’s Task, Real Madrid’s Fate, and Barcelona’s Flow

August 31 2010 By Isaac Asante
Barcelona snatched an easy 3-0 win at the weekend over Racing Santander, while Real Madrid drew 0-0 with Mallorca, with Cristiano Ronaldo being stunned by an injury .This gives Coach Pep Guardiola the upper hand on Day 1 of La Liga, but is the Special One Jose Mourinho still on top of things despite his club’s poor start?

Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta celebrating Barcelona's opener against Racing Santander in La LigaBarcelona and Real Madrid: Weekend quick recap

Both sides were remarkably scrutinized at the weekend as spectators were looking to form their first judgments on players and coaches from the two giant sides. One team was eventually more favored than the other both in terms of public reaction as well as in terms of competition this season; and below, we take a look at quick recaps from Barcelona and Real Madrid’s games on Sunday.

Racing Santander 0-3 Barcelona

Fresh from their Supercopa and Joan Gamper Trophy triumphs, Barcelona faced Santander away from home in good spirit. Things rapidly fell at their benefit when Messi stole the opener as early as in the 3rd minute.

 

Andres Iniesta then scored what was perhaps the goal of the weekend 30 minutes later after he lobbed the ball past the Santander defense, which had then lost its position in an attempt to reject a dangerous Barcelona attack. Two minutes later, the home side’s Mohamed Tchite pushed goalkeeper Victor Valdes closer to the Man of the Match honor, having his penalty saved from the spot.

Villa then sealed the title holders’ win by getting his name on the scoring sheet; moments after he saw one of his efforts get denied by the linesman who raised his flag for offside. 3-0 the match ended, and although Barcelona failed to increase the tally repeatedly, they still had something to celebrate: a brilliant start to their campaign.

Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid gesturing in the Mallorca vs Real Madrid game in La LigaReal Madrid 0-0 Mallorca

Real Madrid played after their title contenders, and they had the task of matching their challengers’ attainment in order to feel comfortable in subsequent match-days of La Liga. They failed however, and most of all, were not successful in going past their opponents’ defense as they drew goalless.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain were the ones who were the most likely to score for the visitors, before Mesut Oezil and Karim Benzema also tested the Mallorca keeper Aouate. This surely disappointed Mourinho who appeared to have played all his cards during the match, but happily for him, there are still 37 games to go.

Jose Mourinho – The Mission

Mourinho has not disappeared from the spotlight since he left Chelsea seasons ago. The Portuguese coach then landed in Inter Milan, where he ruled for 2 seasons.

Jose Mourinho of Real Madrid gesturing in the game against Mallorca in La LigaWith his first year with the Italians not being the best, the Special One gathered his forces and bounced back the following year to win the treble in a memorable manner. As a league expert and an intimidating manager, Mourinho’s arrival in Real Madrid was the first sign of revolution among the Galacticos.

With stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Gonzalo Higuain, Karim Benzema, Sergio Ramos, Xabi Alonso, and Iker Casillas already in the squad; along with new signings including Argentina’s Angel Di Maria and Germany’s Mesut Oezil – Mourinho had no excuse. In fact, the professional trainer is not considered as a man who usually gives excuse; and it is this fact which pushed Madrid fans to believe that the combination of their stars with their new manager would bring them total success in this starting season.

So far, indications of the wounded giants’ triumph are yet to be shown in La Liga. But undoubtedly, letting his supporters down is not an option for Mourinho. This hence leaves him with only one single choice: to bounce back and prove himself.

Poor Start, Superb Finish: A tail of champions

Having seen Los Blancos’ bad performance against Mallorca on Sunday, many probably believe that Madrid will undergo a fruitless season on another occasion. Such a reasoning is however not wholly justifiable, since big clubs over the past have shown over and over again how poor starts to seasons could camouflage subsequent success.

Manchester United

Before, the Manchester United football club – then containing the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney, and then led by famous manager Sir Alex Ferguson – brilliantly wrote its own story. With less than 3 points in their 3 first Premier League games in the 2007/08 season, the situation was about to go from bad to worse.

In opposition to the public’s anticipation, United went on to improve in some ways, and by the end of the season, they were leading the table ahead of Chelsea who were quite on top of things in the beginning. That same year, not only did Manchester United get rewarded with domestic accomplishments, but also did they clinch the Champions League title after defeating the Blues in the final. With Ronaldo also receiving loads of awards, there was no way one could deny United’s domination in Europe.

Barcelona

The Blaugrana also debuted their 2008/09 season terribly, losing 1-0 to Numancia on Day 1; a side who, at that time, had just been promoted into the Primera Division. Again on Day 2, despite all the big names in the giant side, Barcelona failed to get the needed 3 points as they drew 1-1 at home.

It was only on Day 3 that the Catalans woke up and found their good shape by beating Sporting Gijon with 6 goals. They had got back on track, and were at last ready to cruise all the way to final triumph. After the season had ended, Pep’s club had won an unprecedented treble consisting of La Liga, the Copa del Rey and the Champions League, with 3 more related cups in 2009 to finish that year with 6 cups in their hands.

Real Madrid: Ready or Not?

Well, the words above are only few reminders of the many tails which have been written by respected football clubs in Europe’s top countries over the past. In the case of Real Madrid this season, the ink is about to get on the paper, but will they create their own tail with a happy ending?

Bearing in mind the experiences of Barcelona and Manchester in their “Years of Wonders”, Real’s start is still highly promising. After all, they still own a point in the table. At most, what could worry fans of Los Blancos is the jeopardized presence of some of their big stars in following encounters; and speaking of injured players, Cristiano Ronaldo is on the list.

Coach Jose Mourinho walking on the pitch after Real Madrid's 0-0 goalless draw with Mallorca in La LigaAs it is said nevertheless, football is not a one-man game, and in a similar case to this one, it is no one else but Coach Jose Mourinho who has to be at the very top of things. Although he looked agitated during his side’s draw at Mallorca, he remains aware that nothing is over yet.

Another plus which could boost the Galacticos’ moral is their manager’s mysterious home record with various clubs. Now what lingers is the physical production of all the pre-season big talks.

“Am I still the Special One? Yes,” affirmed Mourinho prior to the opening day of La Liga. “The Special One, there is only one of me. I am here [at Real Madrid] to win everything.”

The time has already come for the heat to conquer the battle field, and on Madrid’s side, while fans are waiting, all eyes are watching. The subject and the main target has thus become the manager. But the question is can he do anything special for Real and put an end to Barcelona’s reign? Time and results will tell…

 



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