The Barça Brand Begins to Crumble (Maybe)

By Eric Imhof

“Nos damos cuenta de que es posible ganarles y estamos con muchas ganas del próximo enfrentamiento,” said Álvaro Arbeloa after tonight’s Clásico against Barça—a match that may prove to be a turning point for a Real Madrid team strangely looking for inspiration despite holding what most deem to be a commanding lead of La Liga.

Maybe he’s right. Maybe Madrid has realized that it’s possible to beat their long-time domestic rival; tonight’s 2-2 draw will most likely lift the mist-like aura that follows the Catalans and perhaps will clear the dark cloud that has been hanging over Los Blancos. Maybe the tide is shifting, and a whole new world is upon us.


First of all, let’s not go nuts. A 2-2 tie only proves that Madrid can hang with Barcelona in a big game, not that they can necessarily dominate nor even beat them. Yes, it’s a solid showing at the hostile Camp Nou for los Merengues, but on any given day, a team’s weaknesses can be exploited and mistakes can be made. One game does not a trend make.

However, it’s not just my open bias towards la capital that makes me hopeful to see this result. No, what makes me happier than seeing Madrid finally (finally) rise to meet the challenge is seeing cracks in the much-fawned-over system on Barcelona’s side.

Just as George Carlin was delighted to hear about city dwellers complaining about their water—because it indicated a larger societal entropy he claimed, happily—I am delighted to hear about players believing honestly that they can beat the Catalan juggernaut, if only because Barcelona has become the team people who have never watched nor played a game of soccer automatically (and with annoying and unfounded pride) support.

Sure, Real Madrid was once that team, too. In 2002, I witnessed Ronaldo, Zidane, and Beckham all playing together, at once, from about three rows up at center field at the Bernabéu. It was among the worst of contrived all-star clubs ever put together, in my opinion. They were entertaining, sure, but they weren’t inspiring. With that said, if it takes the current Madrid team to finally begin the long process of grinding down the Barcelona mega-brand, then I’m all for it; it’ll make not just La Liga but the global game more interesting.

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