Former Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon (who once got arrested at an airport for having a suspect last name but  who cares right?) has commented, or rather babbled, about how Barcelona have a better club identity than Real Madrid.

He then went on to discuss, at length too, how Barcelona won all those trophies since 1988 Cruyff era and how Real Madrid’s influence on soccer, in Spain and in Europe, waned while Barcelona’s prospered.

Calderon has made some valid points and as a former Real Madrid president he does deserve some respect but frankly, I think he just wants attention because at the moment Perez doesn’t look like going away from his position at Real Madrid anytime before his funeral.

Let’s do a reality check and wrap our heads around the fact that it has only been a decade since Barcelona has started to eclipse Real Madrid in terms of on field performances.

Does anyone dare ask about the previous hundred years?

Real Madrid have ten Champions League crowns while Barcelona, for their ‘greatest of all time club team plus greatest of all time player plus greatest of all times manager’ claims have won just five Champions League crowns (along with all the controversy surrounding their title runs.)
Real Madrid have more La Liga titles as well and that alone about rounds it up. In the two elitist of elite tournaments, Real Madrid outstrip Barcelona. Still.
Barcelona may catch Real Madrid eventually in terms of major trophy count but till then, it is best for Barcelona fans and staff to keep a tight lid over their thoughts about how their history might compare with that of Real Madrid.
Here are the top five reasons why Real Madrid doesn’t need any lessons from Barcelona, whatsoever:

1.For all their style how can one possibly be oblivious to the controversial moments of Barcelona’s Champions League wins

Let’s not talk about how Milan was robbed in the away match against Barcelona. Let’s also not talk about how Arsenal, Real Madrid, Chelsea (two times) all had to eat the short end of the stick vs the ‘mighty’ Barcelona.

Think about the last time anyone raised questions over the legitimacy of Chelsea’s Champions League victory or Inter Milan’s under Jose Mourinho or even Real Madrid under Ancelotti.

It’s always Barcelona isn’t it? and that can’t be a coincident.

Yes, Barcelona have great players playing for them and they play in a system that is easy on the eye and attracts new ‘consumers’ to the show but that should not make up for the fact that Barcelona duped their way to two Champions League victories that could have easily been knockout stage eliminations for the Blaugrana.

So Calderon isn’t on the right track when he says that Barcelona have won a lot more than Real Madrid in the past decade or so since there are genuine question marks over their title victories.

Yes, it is true that even counting for those less than ideal moments, Barcelona would still have two Champions League victories which would be double the amount of Champions League titles Real Madrid have won in recent memory.

But even then, Barcelona’s success is nothing for Real Madrid to copy or aspire to. Real Madrid has its own way and that is the best way which is to put entertainment value first and everything else later.

2.Without Messi, it is hard to digest how Barcelona would have won those ‘titles’ Ramon Calderon keeps reiterating about.

Granted Barcelona had one of the best squads in Europe, it is safe and also fair to assume that they still would have won a lot of matches even if they didn’t have Lionel Messi.

But Messi added that extra power behind this Barcelona machine that pushed it just above everyone else, on their day that is in terms of quality of play.
Too bad quality of play doesn’t win you titles in football. Barcelona did win many titles but it was not because of their flair play but by much darker forces outside of the field.
Everyone would do well to recognize this fact that without Messi (or Ronaldinho) very few people outside of Barcelona city, would have been talking about their ‘great’ youth system and Barcelona’s ‘club identity’ as Ramon Calderon puts it.

And do we even need to mention the fact that Real Madrid came this close to signing Messi before Barcelona ever had the chance to snap him up. Anyway, the move didn’t materialize and so he ended up at Barcelona.

Point is, signing players like Messi is about the quality of your scouts but more so fate and luck. One shouldn’t be too hasty to take all the credit in any transfer or signing.
In short, a lot of Barcelona players could have ended up playing for Real Madrid and vice versa, so Ramon Calderon is out of his mind to even suggest that Barcelona have more stable policies than Real Madrid generally speaking.  

3.Barcelona’s transfer policy is similar to that of Real Madrid’s, except that it signs one megastar every year.

One glance at Barcelona’s team sheet for any match and you’ll see that apart from Busquets, the goalkeeper claudio or stegen and Rakitic, Barcelona have the best players in the world for each and every position which isn’t a terribly different policy of signing big players than Real Madrid.
So Ramon Calderon’s claim of Real Madrid not planning ahead, before bringing in  marquee players when compared to Barcelona is unsubstantiated.
Real Madrid does what every other elite club does and that is to sign the best players in the world no matter what the cost. The problem is, lately it hasn’t been working out that well for Real Madrid as it is for Barcelona.

Otherwise how can one possibly criticize Real Madrid of signing the biggest of star players, regardless of the fact whether they are needed in the team or not, when Barcelona has brought in Suarez and Neymar in consecutive seasons are now dead set on bringing Pogba into their already star filled starting eleven (some might say starting 18 such is the depth of talent in this Barcelona squad.)

The only problem that I see here is that Real Madrid is less subtle with its transfer market dealings than Barcelona.
Yes Real Madrid did bring Gareth Bale and James to Barcelona’s Suarez and Neymar, but does that tit for tat make Real Madrid policy of signing players unplanned and Barcelona’s planned?

One has to agree here that Ramon Calderon is simply not making much sense when he bashes Real Madrid for erratic transfer market policy.

4.Managers in the modern game count for very little in football when it comes to winning titles so let’s not buy that argument of Real Madrid firing 10 managers in 10 years under Perez. Though it would be better if Real didn’t fire one every two years.

Barcelona didn’t win all those 14 trophies (majority of them useless but who can blame Barcelona for not wanting to win as many as they could) under Guardiola because Guardiola was a great coach, as expounded before, it was because of the excellence that was brought into this Barcelona side by Iniesta, Xavi, Messi, Suárez, Eto’o, Henry, Villa in attack and Puyol, Pique, Alves, Alba in defense.

Not saying that the coach/manager has no role but it can’t be understated that it is the players who do stuff on the pitch that wins the club trophies. Everything else is just background noise.

Without the brilliance of Messi and co, there was no way in hell Guardiola would have won all that silverware.
Let’s see how great Guardiola is without Barcelona because as of this moment, he hasn’t done anything noteworthy with Bayern Munich except for the thrashing Messi gave his Bayern Munich side last year and the humiliation brought on him by Ronaldo a year before in the semi-finals of the Champions League.
So to reply to Ramon Calderon, Real Madrid’s failure to win any major silverware has less to do with the change in management and more to do with law of averages. Real Madrid, realistically, cannot win every other Champions League trophy ever.

Barcelona’s four Champions League wins in the past decade has less to do with their coach and more to do with their players. Otherwise what are you really suggesting then? That Barcelona produces one great manager after another in the form of Guardiola, Luis Enrique, Tito Vilanova?

I don’t think so, I think it is clear that Barcelona continues to rack up trophy after trophy regardless of the manager involved because of one clear constant.
That constant is Lionel Messi and Iniesta along with Daniel Alves and Alba (Zambrotta, Abidal before) in a side that has very few weaknesses to speak of.

5.Real Madrid’s main problem is  that of the midfield.

That for me is the single biggest reason why Real Madrid has failed to catch up to Barcelona in terms of silverware.

No matter how great Benzema, Ronaldo and Bale combine together for Real Madrid as far as scoring goals is concerned, if the midfield can’t get the ball out of defense and into the attacking third in timely fashion then there is nothing that can be done to improve Real Madrid’s chances of winning trophies.

Call it what you want but this is the achilles heel of post-Mourinho Real Madrid side (or squad) and is particularly exploited my elite teams throughout Europe. Examples include Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and PSG (Real Madrid were a bit lucky in the two champions league games against them).

Messi at Barcelona, in stark contrast, has been able to leverage Barcelona’s excellent midfield to his advantage brilliantly.

The likes of Yaya Toure (now at Manchester City), Iniesta, Xavi and somewhat Busquets have gladly played as second fiddle to the genius of Messi.

In essence, Barcelona just like Real Madrid depend on star power. Ronaldo is the master at Real Madrid while Messi is the king at Barcelona. The divergence occurs when we focus our attentions on the midfield. Real Madrid do have impressive quality there but let’s give credit where due, Barcelona’s midfield is way more awesome for a lot more reasons than just being better at handling and distributing the ball.

Barcelona’s midfield has got no problems in cowing down to Messi’s might. No such luck for Ronaldo (or Bale) at Real Madrid. And that is precisely why Barcelona has been able to manage a decent core set of players for eight plus years.

And besides, there can only be so many Xavi’s, Iniesta’s and Messi’s in the world. Real Madrid may have all the money in the world at their disposal but it doesn’t do the club much good when the first ten best players in the world play for your bitterest of rivals.


Messi, Neymar and Suarez wearing medals at trophy presentation

World’s greatest strikers offer more than just pure football.

Calderon can take his advice and go home because Perez isn’t going away anytime soon. Real Madrid do have problems under him but lets show a bit of gratitude here. Before Perez, Real Madrid’s squad was above average at best. Mediocre at worst.

Perez brought star power to Real Madrid and from there on end Real Madrid consistently went deep into Champions League semi-finals and finals.

So let’s be content with what we have rather than yearn for perfect which we may never get.

As for Barcelona, well the Catalans can’t teach Real Madrid anything if you take out how to win trophies with great players (namely Neymar, Messi, Suarez. Xavi, Iniesta) who are also great cheaters (namely Neymar,Messi,Suarez,Iniesta).