MADRID - A possible shift in the balance
of power towards Real Madrid and away from Barcelona was
reflected on Monday in the views of two of the clubs' most
famous former players.
Real's 1-1 draw against Barca in La Liga 10 days ago and
their 1-0 win in the King's Cup Final suggested Jose Mourinho
has learned from his team's crushing 5-0 defeat at the Nou Camp
this season and found a way to contain their arch-rivals.
Real's first trophy in three years has eased the pressure on
their Portuguese coach, with two days to go until the clubs meet
for a third time in Champions League semi-final first leg at the
"Madrid are in a fabulous moment," honorary Real president
Alfredo Di Stefano wrote in sports daily Marca, his rant against
the side's counter-attacking style from the first 'clasico'
seemingly long forgotten.
The nine-times European champions shrugged off any tiredness
from the Cup final to rout third-placed Valencia 6-3 away in the
league on Saturday, but Di Stefano warned against complacency.
"We have to continue in the same vein and not rest on our
laurels, and to fight on as if we still hadn't won anything," he
"Inspiration alone isn't enough to create unforgettable art.
It requires a great quantity of fight and tenacity."
Barca maintained their eight-point lead at the top of La
Liga with a 2-0 win over lowly Osasuna on Saturday, and with
five games left look to have a third consecutive title in the
In contrast to Real, however, Barca laboured to their
victory and coach Pep Guardiola appeared to be on the defensive
before and after the match when speaking to the media, saying
Real were now the favourites in the Champions League.
"No one passes from being favourite to the weaker side in 10
days," former Barca forward Johann Cruyff wrote in daily El
"The draw in La Liga delivered the title and Barca lost the cup by the narrowest of margins. Ah! It's because Barca did not
shine! If this is the true measure of Barcelona, there is a
The Dutchman went on to give Guardiola a rap on the knuckles
for the 40-year-old's change from his usual placid approach to
make sniping comments about the refereeing in the first two
'clasicos' among other complaints.
The Madrid-based media have jumped on these complaints to
portray Guardiola as struggling with the pressure, and a bad
"Barca must do what they have done thousands of times before
and forget about getting drawn into a war of words or scuffles,"
"Instead of worrying about who will referee, if the grass
(at the Bernabeu) is long, they should think more about getting
behind their rivals and into goal-scoring positions."
Bayern fans snap up 45,000 tickets to watch Champions League final live at Allianz Arena
When Sir Alex wakes up on Monday morning without team to manage, he will not be putting his feet up
Paris Saint-Germain midfielder announces he will be retiring at the end of the current season
Record goal-scorer signs a one-year contract extension with Europa League winners Chelsea
Ten years on, the legends speak to FFT
Your questions answered by an A to Z of legends
He's here, he's there, he's...
The cost of Premier League away travel
Nike CR7 IX for you
FourFourTwo is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media & FourFourTwo is part of Haymarket Sport
| International Licensing | © Haymarket Media Group 2010