It’s difficult to define the relationship between
Yet, both clubs have vastly different tradition and history. One club runs like a business while the other is run for the people. Both have different ways of attaining success and like polar opposites, neither can be on top of the world or down in the dumps together.
A good case in point is the build up to El Clasico over the past few weeks. A fortnight ago, it seemed all doom and gloom in the Spanish capital when Cristiano Ronaldo looked unlikely to feature at the
Just to make things more interesting,
But by far the most apparent difference between the two clubs is, of course, their ideologies. The contrast has been highlighted even more glaringly over the past year as the
Pedrito, Barca's latest darling
There’s also a wide divide in transfer policies.
He did dish out €69 million to recruit Ibrahimovic from Inter, but he made it sound just that less outrageous an expenditure by explaining that he only had to cough up €49m (presumably well within their means) as the other €20m came from Eto’o’s exchange.
The truth is that there is no right or wrong philosophy. Each club have their own way of running the show, just like how each athlete has his or her own way of training, each business have their own organization and structure.
Raul replaced El Buitre, but who will replace Raul?
At the moment,
The truth is that grooming young players doesn’t work for every team. Arsenal, for instance, are a club who purchase fairly unknown footballers at a young age and slowly blood them into big stars. They are, perhaps, the second most attractive side to watch after
The key difference between Los Blancos and the Blaugrana’s fortunes is that the Catalans have a specific style and identity. Regardless of who is in charge of the bench and who is sitting on the president’s chair, Barca will always turn to Johan Cruyff’s footballing model as a blueprint.
Not only that, the wide-eyed youngsters who are brought up through the ranks are taught how to play like Cruyff. They polish their basic skills, their technique, ball control, and they are encouraged to embrace the Total Football philosophy. That’s why players like Puyol, Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, Pedro can all play in various positions or take on different roles, while others like Sergio Busquets and Gerard Pique can attack as well as they can defend.
Whose style will prevail?
The constant coaching and administration changes at the ‘White House’ doesn’t help matters either. Players are unable to familiarize themselves with one specific style of play for any more than a couple of seasons. If and when they do, a new president takes power, hires a new coach, clears out the dressing room and everything goes back to square one.
With no template to follow, each trainer and his coaching staff will introduce a completely different set of ideas. That could explain why Raul has gone on a steady decline. Ever since Vicente del Bosque’s departure, Madrid have changed coaches every two seasons on average, and poor old Raul has been left with no choice but to adapt to a new style and integrate with a new squad each time. It’s as if he’s had to move to a different club every two years.
The Merengues do have as many aspiring youngsters as Barca fighting to get their hands on that elusive first-team contract, but unlike the Catalans, Madrid normally tend to wait for that one true gem – the next Raul or the new Casillas – to emerge by pure chance, rather than bide their time and spend a few years waiting for the player to blossom.
There is no way to determine categorically which philosophy works best. One formula will succeed during one particular cycle, the other will fail, then the tables will turn. Barca’s reign, like it or not, will eventually end. Messi, Pedro, Busquets, Pique, et al. may be young and may seem like they will be around forever and ever, but that's what everyone thought about Ronaldo and Ronaldinho, about Cristiano Ronaldo staying at Manchester United or Kaka at Milan, or about an eternally youthful Raul going on and on and on. Yet, look how each and everyone has turned out.
Diversity in football is what makes the game fascinating. After all, wouldn’t it be more satisfying when your club and their unique principles trump the arch nemesis?
KS Leong, Goal.com
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