El Classico Disappoints While EPL Weekend Thrills.
It’s been a busy week in both La Liga and the EPL, with the marquee match up coming courtesy of the Barcelona — Real Madrid showdown that did very little to live up to it’s billing.
In the past, we’ve had draws and we’ve had close wins (and losses, depending on which side of the fence you’re sitting on), but as we mentioned time and time again on our podcast, the most important match up in Spanish football rarely lacked in excitement. It is a rivalry that is grounded firmly beyond simple soccer and draws on politics, geography and culture to supply the tension of the gravitas ahead of any given match up. Even more surprising that it was so objectively trash this year.
With Real firmly six points above and both teams missing their creative fulcrums, the game felt particularly stale and uninspiring for two juggernauts of the game. On the other hand, the EPL stepped up the excitement level and delivered one of the highest scoring weekends this season that didn’t lack the drama either.
Serge: Boy, are Chelsea scary.
Cameron: This game was not as close as the score made it look [3–1]. It was 2–1 until the dying minutes, but Chelsea were firmly in control from half-time on-wards, and for much of the first half actually.
Serge: This is the second time, and part of the reason why I’m starting to believe in Chelsea — EPL Contender, it’s the second week in the row they’ve done something like this. They play Tottenham last week, they go down one — nil, with Spurs pretty much dominating from the start. Chelsea come back, beautiful goal from Pedro before half, and then they just finish them off.
This time around, City scores and almost get the second one when De Bruyne hit the bar. Chelsea once again comes out and just absolutely demolishes them in the last minutes. Diego Costa just owned Otamendi at the back and it was a very good contrast because both teams played three center backs.
Cam: Well, Conte is much more comfortable. For Guardiola it’s less about playing the back three and more about playing more midfielders. A lot of it is down to that difference of focus in terms of why you are using these tactics.
Serge: I also think it’s part of the fact that at Barcelona he had guys like Dani Alves and at Bayern he had Philip Lahm and David Alaba who could play as inverted fullbacks. At City he just doesn’t have that. He has Clichy, Sagna and Kolarov, but none of them are skilled enough to give him what he wants at this position. It feels like he is just experimenting because of that to try and get more midfield play by going three at the back. You also need a very sturdy defense and Otamendi has under performed for the money he cost City.
Cam: Which is funny because Otamendi at Valencia he was magnificent — second best center back in La Liga behind Diego Godin. He just hasn’t lived up to the billing in England.
Serge: Diego Costa absolutely ran him ragged. And City could have put it away, if De Bruyne goal goes in instead of hitting the cross bar it’s two — nil and I think they’re clear.
Cam: There are a few variables here. What do you think of the David Luiz and Sergio Aguero argument in the first half. Do you think that should have been a red card?
Serge: Initially and watching it in full speed, I didn’t see much to it. There’s a collision, and given some of the dives we’ve seen this year? Not much. When you slow it down, you can see he shifts his body weight into him to bring him down, clearly obstructing his run.
Cam: And it’s a broader discussion to have at the EPL level the way that we judge refereeing decisions. Soccer doesn’t have the benefit of replay technology for some crazy reason. It does mean that with the benefit of replay we can say “that’s clearly a foul,” but they just can’t make those decisions based on where they are and based on what they see.
Serge: I agree. Watching it live, it was hard for me to say. The angle I was at, I didn’t see much contact, because David Luiz was obstructing my view. Obviously the referee had a better look, but moving at full speed, it was just as slight shift in his body weight. But then again, David Luiz and Sergio Aguero have a history.
Cam: Boy, do they ever…