I heard somebody on British radio this morning claim that this match was boring, fortunately he said it tongue in cheek because this match was the most compelling ninety minutes I have seen this season so far. Just when I was feeling a little jaded by the sheer amount of football available to watch, and I happen to be somebody who can't say no, along comes a game that revived the flagging spirit.
Prior to this match there was a feeling among La Liga watchers that Real Madrid had enjoyed an easy start to the season, they had yet to play any of their main rivals for the Spanish title and were the footballing equivalent of a flat track bully. Even in some of the games against lesser opponents their defence had looked a little nervous. Barcelona on the other hand had played and beaten every other team, with the exception of Mallorca against whom they drew in the top half of La Liga, including a 5-0 win against Sevilla, 2-1 win against Valencia and 3-1 against Villareal.
Real Madrid are clearly a work in progress, a team purchased for over £300 million over the past two summers ( with three or four exceptions) and they will come good but last night they were up against a team which finished the match with nine players who had come through the club's youth system. Not only has this team played together for two seasons, with the exception of new boy David Villa, but the players have played the 'Barca way' since they were nine years old and the fluidity of passing and movement is now second nature. This was the academy beating the cheque book and with something to spare.
What was evident from the first twenty minutes last night was that Barcelona are a team that defends from the front, closes down the opposition quickly and works hard for each other. Madrid on the other hand were eleven individuals and Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo were unable to match the opposition team ethos when it came to defending from the front, Di Maria seemed out of his depth and Alonso and Khedira were left floundering in midfield, often finding themselves outnumbered five to two. The only Madrid player who came out of this match with any credit was Pepe and it's not often you can say that.
Barcelona passed and moved and passed and moved and Madrid became increasingly frustrated, as if to reinforce the idea that cheats never prosper the old Mourinho habit of playing the man and not the ball was found to be wanting time and time again, encapsulated in the second goal. Marcelo fouled Pedro off the ball on the right of Barcelona's midfield, the referee acknowledged it and let play continue, the ball was worked across the pitch to David Villa who took on Sergio Ramos and crossed the ball where Pedro was waiting five yards out, and just in front of Marcelo, to tap the ball home. Contrast the attitude of Pedro with that of Ronaldo who still seems to think the team is there for him and who once again displayed a tendency to go missing rather than help out his team mates.
The 5-0 rout was completed in added on time when Bojan and Jeffren, two products of the Barcelona academy combined. Jeffren ran towards the touchline and the Camp Nou witnessed the biggest group hug of the season.
Mourinho was honest in his post match analysis: "We gifted them two goals that were almost ridiculous. I was watching the game. I tried to change things at the interval and we came out quite well, but then they scored again and there was nothing I could do - the game was lost."
Guardiola, somebody who has experienced the highs and lows of football, showed humility when he said, "Now it's very easy too we are better than them, but only time will tell. In a few years time, we will see. They are on a spectacular level, but we were better today. In these two years we have been superior to Madrid - that's true. With time, we can enjoy these things more, and we will enjoy this for a few days now as well."
This was Pep Guardiola's fifth win out of five as manager against Real Madrid and Mourinho's biggest ever defeat as a coach. It was more than that though, it was a celebration and affirmation of everything good about football.