May 4th, 2009
04:23 PM ET

Barca's midfield maestros

Barcelona's 6-2 rout of their great rivals Real Madrid in front of their own fans at the Santiago Bernabeu was the crowning act in a season of fantastic attacking football; the perfect riposte to last campaign's capitulation of the title by playing, and more importantly winning, the game in a beautiful way.

 Xavi of Barcelona celebrates after Gerard Pique scored Barcelona's sixth goal against Real Madrid.
Xavi of Barcelona celebrates after Gerard Pique scored Barcelona's sixth goal against Real Madrid.

Key to the outcome of the match were superb performances from the Spanish duo Andres Iniesta and Xavi who confounded and dominated their centre-of-the-park couterparts of Lassana Diarra and Fernando Gago. The supply to the potent attacking triumvarate of Lionel Messi, Thierry Henry and Samuel Eto'o meant that Real's deficit could have been even heavier. They were lucky.

Messi particularly was given far too much room to operate and it was no surprise that his killer instinct led to him contributing with a brace.  It was a mistake for Ramos to play the sluggish Gabriel Heinze, who struggled with the pace of the Argentine.

The remarkable thing about the Catalan side this season is not just the games they have won this season but the manner in which the victories have been secured.  One hundred goals have been scored in 34 games, a phenomenal return in such a competitive league.  It is also a mark of their goal threat that against Real, despite the league's top goalscorer Samuel Eto'o being quiet, six goals were still scored.

Pep Guardiola too has stepped up to the plate, from his previous role as reserve team manager, fantastically well in his debut season.  The transformation has been unbelievable and the players really seem to respect their former teammate. The goal-fest and awesome form in La Liga all points to a mouth-watering tie against Chelsea in the second-leg of the European Champions League semifinal on Wednesday.

Don't be surprised, however, if Barcelona ease their foot from the pedal against the English Premier League side.  Guus Hiddink's Blues are physically more robust and defensively stronger than Real Madrid and Barca will leave themselves vulnerable to the counter if they attack with such vigour.

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