Barcelona's 4-0 demolition of Real Madrid at the weekend came as a surprise to even the most ardent supporters of the Catalan side. Many people tipped Madrid to overcome their fiercest rivals, so for the home side to be beaten so resoundingly came as a shock. But should it have done?
Barca have enjoyed a sustained period of success against Los Blancos; since the appointment of Pep Guardiola, Barcelona have elevated themselves to a level that Madrid struggle to compete with. Their dominance is signified by the results in recent years - out of the last 15 league meetings - Real Madrid have won just three of them.
A team against individuals
The biggest difference between Spain's top two clubs is the teamwork on display; whereas Barcelona players seem to know exactly what their roles are, Real Madrid can sometimes look lost. It seems the side from the capital go out and hope their best players produce magic - if that doesn't happen then there's no plan B.
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Real Madrid will be hoping that Barcelona's good run of form against them will be coming to an abrupt halt, but unfortunately for them, the gap just seems to be getting bigger. For Madrid to become competitive once again, maybe they need a change in philosophy. Instead of buying the flavour of the month each season, they might be better off building a solid foundation for the future.
For most Real Madrid supporters, their team won't be able to compete with Barcelona again until Florentino Perez leaves. The waving of white handkerchiefs at the end of the 4-0 defeat was a familiar sight at the Bernabeu - the supporters are unhappy and they want change.
Whether they will get the change they want is unlikely. Perez is as stubborn as he is shrewd, whilst he is making money out of Real Madrid then he won't be too concerned with their relative difficulties on the pitch. Perez has turned Real into an impressive business model as opposed to a football club.
Can Benitez turn it around?
If Benitez was under pressure at the start of the season, just imagine how he's feeling right now. He was an unpopular choice right from day one, it was almost an impossible task to win over the Madridistas - though Saturday's defeat won't help. As poor as Real Madrid were, the problems at the club are much greater than Benitez.
The ex-Liverpool manager will likely be replaced come the end of the season, to be usurped by someone who will face the same problems he did: lack of control over transfers, uncertainty over his future and overly demanding supporters. It doesn't really matter who is in charge at Real Madrid; for the club to reign Europe once again, they need a change of identity as opposed to a change of manager.
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