Reigning in Spain

I was ready for a classic showdown. A match that pitted the tactical brilliance of Jose Mourinho with the sublime skill of Barcelona. Yes, it was to be manna from heaven – even if received via the Internet.

What happened instead was a soccer master class.

Barcelona carved up Real Madrid like a Thanksgiving turkey en route to a stunningly easy 5-0 win.

There are talking points all the way around, but the basic points are these:

1. You can park the bus against Barca and hope for the best on the counter, like Mourinho’s Inter Milan did last season. Or you can pressure them as hard as you can for 90 minutes and hope that they’re a little off their game that day, like Hercules did in La Liga earlier this season.

But what you can’t do is sit back, let them pass you into oblivion and then fail to defend well at critical moments – which is exactly what happened at Camp Nou yesterday.

2. Jose Mourinho is arguably the finest manager of his generation. But when your players don’t respond on the big stage, all the tactics in the world are useless.

3. Real Madrid entered the game as the hottest team in Europe, running rampant over foes in every competition so far this season.

They left humbled, powerless to slow down the beautiful game played at the highest level.

All-region team

In case you missed it on Thanksgiving, the Observer’s all-region team can be found here.

And you can see the North Carolina Soccer Coaches Association all-region choices for the 4A schools here.

The complete list is here.

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