Friday, December 3, 2010

El Clasico result suggest Real need more than money

You can't buy what Barcelona have. At least, you can't buy most of it. Barcelona's demolition of Real Madrid proved that once and for all the greatest future-factory in the world. Of the Barcelona starting XI, eight have their roots in the Barcelona youth team setup while for Real Madrid, only Iker Casillas began his career in their Youth teams.

That's a remarkable percentage for a side that's so good. It's also arguable that Barcelona boast three of the top five players in the world in Andres Iniesta, Xavi and Lionel Messi. In my opinion, they're the top three. And all three came through the youth system even though Messi arrived at the Nou Camp from Argentina. Ten-plus years of playing together combined with the ultimate in talent and you've got yourself one killer side.

Much has been made in England of "Fergie's Fledglings", the teenagers that Ferguson blooded during the mid-nineties including Beckham, Scholes, the Nevilles, Giggs and Butt. Three of those players went on to play in United's 1999 Champions League triumph while Paul Scholes won his UCL medal in 2008. Those eight promoted youth-team players all have played on teams who have won the Champions League - some twice - and so we're approaching having to refer to them in reverential terms. Comparing teams across eras is a pastime that's pointlessly, but enjoyably futile given the constant changing nature of the game of football but now it's impossible to argue that the current crop of Catalan Genius shouldn't enter the pantheon of great teams.

It wasn't just that Barcelona defeated Los Galacticos, it was that they dismantled potentially the second-best team oon the continent to such an extent that the Catalan term for Los Merengues - Los Pateticos - could apply to opponents right across Europe. There's a long way to go in the season, but on the form displayed earlier this week Real Madrid will have to strengthen again. Whether that reinforcement comes from within or from without is inconsequential, but given their propensity for spending it's not too far a step to suggest that Real may buy in January.

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