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Bow to the great Barca
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It's more than clear that after such a humiliating defeat at home, Real Madrid's title race is essentially over. With four matches remaining, a seven-point gap ought to be safe enough for the current league leader, Barcelona, considering their form and their thirst for the title.

It should have been a tight and fascinating tussle, anticipated by hundreds of millions of people all around the world. However, last weekend, the legendary Bernabeu Stadium witnessed the visitors thrashing Real Madrid by a record-breaking 6:2 margin.

The 154th Classico was a disaster for Real Madrid, the all-time best team in both Spain and Europe.

Few would have expected that the game would turn out this way. Even the most optimistic Barca fans would have been on a knife-edge before the match, which is very understandable.

Barca, the current league leader, had just been held – and outplayed, to a degree – by Valencia, before that demoralizing draw with defensive Chelsea, while Madrid produced a stunning trademark comeback against Sevilla.

And then, considering Barca's Champions League and Copa del Rey distractions, the reigning champions would have had every reason to believe that they could take themselves to within just a point of Barcelona with a home win, and then go on to their third successive league title.

For Real Madrid, attacking football at Bernabeu is a must, especially when they are facing the arch-rival, Barcelona. So Real Madrid, as their supporters would have hoped, opened up the game to Barcelona, which was perhaps also what the away team had hoped.

Chelsea managed a scoreless draw at Nou Camp last midweek with a packed five-man midfield and spoiler tactics. As Iniesta put it after the match, "When the team in front of you do not want to play football, it becomes complicated."

But Madrid wanted to play football, and they wanted to win, with everything appearing to be in their favor.

Madrid's attack did take effect in the first 15 minutes when Higuain headed home a Sergio Ramos cross.

But that was all the time Barca needed to gauge the situation and proceed to play Madrid off the park. Madrid's open style allowed their rivals too much time and space to find their rhythm and organize their attack.

And then, with both sides going all out to attack, the difference was obvious and undeniable. For the time being, there is simply no greater attacking force in world football – none even close to Barcelona.

For the rest time of the game, Madrid’s players could only stand by and watch the visitors playing their dazzling football. Barca should have scored more than 6 goals in view of the countless chances they created.

This is a better Barcelona side than the 3-0 Rijkaard side that went on to win the 2006 Champions League and La Liga double. It's no coincidence that this season they remain in a strong position to surpass that and obtain a treble.

After a dominating victory, Barcelona have extended their points lead to 7. With 4 matches left, it is just a matter of time before they claim the La Liga title. Additionally, what’s more important than the winning itself is that Barca have gained additional confidence before the decisive match at Stamford Bridge in midweek.

(China.org.cn by Xiang Bin, May 5, 2009)

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