Yesterday, Real Madrid won because Capello finally figured out how important speed is. Robinho, as we promised, provided the velocity needed to open the field; Van Nistelroy had space to move, and Raúl returned to being the goal hound he can be when there are other players with bigger and faster players to do the work of getting to the penalty area. Meanwhile, FC Barcelona with Gudjohnsen a disasterous substitute for Eto'o, bogged down in the last 30 meters, and their 4 able "touch" players -- Iniesta, Deco, Xavi Fernández and Ronaldinho -- spent more time bumping into each other more than doing anything else. Thuram, an equally disastrous substitute for Márquez, was out of position on Raúl's goal, and seemed lost the entire evening. Thuram was to provide more speed than Márquez, who had a difficult time with Chelsea's faster forwards. In last night's game, Márquez would not have had the same problem with Raúl or Van Nistelrooy.
Even so, Madrid's defense was porous, Messi broke through almost at will during the first half, and FC Barcelona flubbed numerous occasions, twice with little more to do than push the ball into the net.
Bottom line: the season is long and Madrid lacks depth. For those of you who have asked me if I am a FC Barcelona fan because of the case I wrote with them (i.e., a Real Madrid enemy) the answer is no. I am not a football fan, I am a strategist. Strategically, FC Barcelona has not adapted well to the loss of Eto'o; Gudjohnsen's failure will require another set of strategic adjustments. Strategically, Capello has been slow to recognize that defending field position is no longer a substitute for velocity. Yesterday, the Brazilians saved the day. (Roberto Carlos was outstanding on defense.)