All in the mind
Guillem Balague says Real have got their mojo back, but reckons Barca got too confident against Sociedad.
Last Updated: 21/01/13 5:39pm
It was an interesting weekend in La Liga; no-one had predicted Barcelona losing at Real Sociedad and no-one expected to see Real Madrid looking like the champions of last season.
Despite drawing 2-2 with Malaga in the Copa del Rey, Barcelona were happy with how they played in that match and felt they had peaked again, blaming the result on the fact they weren't playing their regular team.
They could have been 3-0 up against Sociedad which would have killed the game and they were very comfortable with how they were playing - but instead, that confidence basically punished them.
In the second half especially, Sociedad kept putting a net in the midfield which Barcelona were uncomfortable passing by, so they started using long balls.
That presented Lionel Messi with a chance and led to one of the goals, but it was down to necessity because they Sociedad were stopping Xavi and Cesc Fabregas passing (although not so much Andres Iniesta).
Most people have the idea of pressuring high, making it difficult for Barca to build from the back to stop them (although Celtic fans will think differently) but Sociedad actually did it, which is the hard part.
They were also strong enough mentally at 2-0 down to believe they could turn it around.
The goal they scored before the break gave them hope and, after the sending off of Gerard Pique, you could see relaxation in the Barcelona side; we didn't see much of Messi and Sociedad took advantage.
They proved you don't need to be aggressive to Barcelona to beat them, you just need to play well and Sociedad did that. It was brilliant from them.
Real Madrid, meanwhile, beat Valencia 5-0 away from home after winning 2-0 against them at the Bernabeu in the cup in midweek.
After the cup game Jose Mourinho had a go at Cristiano Ronaldo because he took a shot instead of passing to Gonzalo Higuain and took a quick throw at the end when Mourinho would have preferred more control.
It was one of those telling offs Mourinho's done with everybody lately as part of his strategy to get everybody switched on. Ronaldo reacted saying: 'This is not fair, I give all my life to you'.
The players feel they're in it by themselves and are working for each other now to reach their targets, which is the cup and the Champions League.
Either Mourinho has made the side work psychologically for eachother again or the players are like: 'we're not comfortable with Mourinho but we'll do it for ourselves'.
Of course, Mourinho will tell you its down to his work as a psychologist...
Guillem answers your questions...
Got a question for Guillem? Then send it to firstname.lastname@example.org or use the feedback form below, and then look out for his answer next week.
A LONE RANGER?
There is no doubt that Messi is one of a kind, but my question to you Guillem is: do you still believe that when the likes of Iniesta, Xavi, Pedro, have finally moved on, that Messi would still be the same player? Samad Mughal (Manchester Utd fan)
GUILLEM REPLIES: Pedro and Iniesta will be there as long as Messi will be there. Without them would Messi be as good a player? Well, three things have been put together to make this Barcelona side so good: one, the appearance of Messi; two, the understanding of the game everyone has and you won't lose that because players coming through have that intelligence too; and three, the players playing around Messi, you wouldn't be able to get that quality. They will still be success.
DON'T FORGET RONNIE!
Guillem, Do you not think Ronaldinho at his best equalled, if not surpassed, Messi? That is a view I support, I believe the main difference between the two players, is that Ronaldinho plays for fun, he has never put himself out to improve. Whereas Messi, on top of being incredibly talented, works hard to develop his potential. Had Ronaldinho been a hard worker, I think he would have stayed the king of Barcelona and of the world for quite a few years. Sam Gamgie (Liverpool fan)
GUILLEM REPLIES: Ronaldinho had moments of brilliance but what makes Messi outstanding and unique in the game is his consistency. I don't know if you saw the 'Magic of Messi' show we did, but he was unbelievable for 12 months - and he's been doing that for five years. Having a good game, a good season or a good year and a half - which Ronaldinho had - can we compare that to Messi? Impossible. For me, to say he's equal you have to look at everything, not just the best moments.
NICE GUYS FINISH FIRST
Hi Guillem, Do you think Messi gets more praise from media, fans and coaches than Ronaldo because he doesn't come across as cocky and selfish? Do you think for Ronaldo it's best to leave La Liga and go back home to Manchester United to try and win the Ballon D'Or? Adios. Kyle Murray (Manchester Utd fan)
GUILLEM REPLIES: Ronaldo has an image problem he's trying to sort out now; he's trying to get a better public image. He may be cocky on the pitch but he's a nice guy off it. We work in a society where it is black and white: you're a hero or villain. Everybody has put Messi into the hero box and Ronaldo into the villain one. Ronaldo is a bit fed up with that. But Messi's also selfish and Ronaldo is nice like Messi, as well. Sometimes it is just the image society has got. I don't think it is best for La Liga or for him to leave; he's at a good club and I'm sure Madrid will do their best to keep him.
KEEPING CLEAR OF BARCA
Good Morning Guillem. The news of Victor Valdes not renewing his contract is shocking but do you think Barca will find a replacement this transfer window. Arun Rabbani.
GUILLEM REPLIES: You may consider it bad timing but he did it because he felt Barca will now have time to look for a replacement and if they want to get money for him they could sell him at the end of the season. We will see what Barca do but the way he did it made it clear he didn't want to negotiate at all and that suggests he feels very strongly about it. We'll discuss it more in Revista but the way he did it suggests he feels a little bit disappointed towards the club and how they behave towards him.
Got a question for Guillem? Then send it to email@example.com or use the feedback form below, and then look out for his answer next week, and don't forget to keep up to date with Guillem on Twitter - @GuillemBalague