Johan Cruyff writes a weekly column in Spanish newspaper, El Periodico. In this edition, Cruyff analyses the title-race. Barcelona and Real Madrid have won their five matches and notched up a maximum of 15 points so far, left the other teams behind in the dust.
Several times you won’t be surprised in this sport. I don’t point at the game on the pitch, but at all that which happens at a higher level, in the office. Valencia and Atletico Madrid met in the fifth round in the league, the fifth, and people already question their respective coaches Abel Resino and Unai Emery. Than you watch the faces on Mestalla. Final result- tie. What do you do? Care for them since no one won? Spare them since no one lost? What had been considered good a couple of months ago, is not worth anything for you now or will not be if you don’t discuss it. It’s absurd: you do bad now, you already did in May. And if you were good in May, you can’t be horrible after 5 rounds. Look at yourself before you kill the only one that could be touched, it’s not necessary with a title for the president and the technical director. Look at what you did to to change the structure in the squad: Who have you sold, bought and given to the team.
The first five rounds cheat a lot numerically. Barcelona and Real Madrid won’t be able to win the rest of their matches despite the fact that they already did so, so far. 15 points out of a possible 15 is beyond average. A big team may require to win 70 % of the total points. If they get more it would be fantastic. So, at this point if Atletico and Valencia wish to be in front, their numbers are below average. Atletico are 12 points behind and Valencia 7 points. This could have been accepted later in the tournament, never after fifth round.
A spectacular start
You may conclude twice. We got two teams that have started like bullets, and with the exception of Sevilla, the rest have almost choked on most fronts. The longer we have to wait before they lose a point, the worse it will be for the rest. And they might believe it’s even worse. Still, it is too early to talk about two teams. If you start by looking at how they look and how they have performed the last seasons, it would be difficult the find champions other than Barcelona or Real Madrid. Those who work the hardest, day after day without thinking about becoming champion, will they have won everything, and for the second because they have bought almost everything, Barcelona and Real Madrid are the candy that everyone wants to eat for a day. If it still does not happen it’s because one as the other has been better than their opponent.
Another thing is the way they choose to get their victory. At the moment we are in a very early face of the competition with no news on the front, Barcelona kept it’s commitment to the collective game and possession. Well thought positioning game, to not cause problems in the back and to create spaces/holes and to be dominating in front, while Madrid are more based on individuals. Technically it would be tie if the points, goals and the goals they concede are what counts. With the league table in my hand, it’s difficult with a greater similarity. To be on the top spot or not depends today on one goal. A goal for or against. Still there exists another thing that football depends on. And it will appear, sooner or later, especially in a long tournament like La Liga.
The belief that the rival is defeated in advance is the best compliment you can throw with hindsight. You can’t get the food on the table for free. And because none is bad. And because of the signal you sent that you have done it very well, never the opposite. We already heard the statement last season, without mentioning the opponents Barca have met. As long it does not come to the players ears, you can let it come, and they will not believe it. Generally it does not look like this. Everyone is free to believe whatever they want. In Malaga they would have said exactly the same if they had won with 0 by many. Zero because, without performing good on the pitch and without making good combinations, they only let the opponent to our own goal once in 90 minutes. Many because Ibrahimovic and Pique’s goals were few. The referee was lucky. He blew like he did, but in the end they won like they deserved.
A small squad?
Tomorrow there will be more. Champions League and a typical World Cup season. Therefore it’s non stop rotation. If I were a Barcelona player I would have been happy to be a part of this squad. Small? Even more with injuries? For a quick player it’s impossible to find a better place to play at, and he will sooner rather than later, be able to show his value.