Real beat Barcelona at Camp Nou (2-1) reaching the top of La Liga. But was fun to watch? The once exhilarating clash of the titans nearly became a single-goal match. With no Messi or Ronaldo, and a strange approach from both benches it was all a far cry from the 2010s. At what point did it all go wrong?

El clasico 248
Photo: FC Barcelona, via Twitter

Real Madrid played a decent match, especially on the defensive side, but there was nothing special about their rendition. Ten years ago that wouldn’t have been enough. Today an average Madrid beat a below-average Barcelona. This isn’t about the absence of Messi and Ronaldo – football isn’t a one on one sport.

Nor is it the generational shift that represents the core nature of any sport. The issue isn’t in the young players, either. They are doing what they can with the time they are given. More than ever the likes of Pedri, Ansu Fati, De Jong and Vinicius need to be mature above their age to be successful. Cancelation is one tweet away.

One of many down sides of modern football is that everything must happen NOW, mimicking the rest of our global culture. No one is willing to wait for 2-3 years for a young player to fully evolve and remain an asset for another decade. Instead, it’s easier to bring a buzz name, repeat with half a dozen guys and see what happens. 

The new squad doesn’t have time to figure the game out as a team, the young players get limited space, the results are average at best… No one is happy.  This is in short what’s been happening with both Real and Barcelona. Add to that a constant revolving door on the bench and Juntas that have profit in mind and say: “Hi” to contemporary football. Maybe throw in an attempt at a Superleague, too. Money talks.

The legacy clubs left themselves with just that

Almost nothing new is happening. No tactical revolution that would leave everyone in awe during the next 10 days following the game, no dominance on either side, no real leaders… Nothing is special about the current Clásicos, except for the legacy. The stories of the past. Both Barcelona and Real Madrid have only themselves to blame.

What about the new legacy? This Sunday afternoon Barcelona broke their own records in defeat, while Real cowardly wasted time at an hour long 1:0 lead. Does this remind you at all of the best days of Spanish football?

It took Blaugrana over 85 minutes to create a single competitive opportunity that would endanger Madrid, before their fourth consecutive defeat in the Spanish derby became official.

Barcelona hadn’t lost in two consecutive Clásicos since 1965

They also hadn’t lost four Derbies in a row since 1966. No problem if you have Koeman on your bench. Unlike the fan favorite Manitas, 5-0 wins of the 90s or the 2010s, the Barcelona of today simply makes it easy on the opponent. All while the coach is doing everything possible to distance himself from the defeats and mistakes of his own team.

When it seemed that this particular Derby would remain at just one goal, Madrid’s Lucas Vasquez surprised everyone scoring Madrid’s second goal of the day in the 94th minute. Right after a scrimmage that ended in Piqué asking for a penalty. There was no penalty…

Nearly two minutes later Kun Agüero tried to make this defeat a bit less painful for Barça through their only score. Koeman was caught blankly staring at the pitch. The only truly good thing about this Clásico is the fan attendance. Covid got us used to empty stands or just a few thousand fans. Today’s attendance – 86.422 and some beautiful noise to follow.

Another major match in the world of football was being played almost at the same time. Manchester lost to Liverpool at home (0-5) with United fans leaving the stadium early. Despite the killer result, the buzz just wasn’t there for anyone.

All of which begs the question: Are the fans tired of football? The only correct answer would be: Never.

But they are tired of the shithousery. So long as clubs keep ignoring that fact, the allure of Europe’s biggest derbies will be foregone. Fully dependant on reminiscing and basking in the past glories.

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