The whole concept is that you’re better for 90 minutes. That is, really, the idea. At first it may not seem obvious, but after an hour and a half, it’s fairly clear. Take a gander at the first 5 minutes against Arsenal in 2009 and then the final score; after that, once you’ve digested the reality of what came to pass, tell me it isn’t about 90 minutes. Try. Just go ahead and try.
There was a moment not so long ago when 18 seconds separated Barcelona from the league trophy. The official site puts it this way:
Then came 18 seconds of madness on the penultimate weekend. Madrid came from behind to draw with Zaragoza, and just as they scored, Espanyol equalised with Barça at the Camp Nou. A great chance had gone to waste and Capello’s side made no mistake on the final day, rendering Barça’s goal-fest in Tarragona useless. “
It’s about the 90 minutes worth. It’s why both Guardiola and Puyol scream at players when the team is winning 4-0. It’s why you can never give up an easy chance even when you’re winning by a mile. Milan learned the hard way in the Champions league final against Liverpool and nearly relearned it against Arsenal in the round of 16 this year.
Why this Phil Simms-esque “the game is a full 90 minutes” diatribe? Because we’re down 6 points and there’s no margin for error whatsoever. Even if you say that the Clasico will get us to 3 points, there are still 3 monumental points that have to be overcome. Guardiola is right in saying that this will be a bit complicated. And it’s Mallorca that stands in our way at the moment, not what happens next week in Milan and not what happens in a month when Real Madrid visits the Camp Nou. Putting pressure on a Madrid team that looks like cracking in half at the wrong moment is exactly what the team has to do, but it’s no easy measure, not with a rear guard made out of popsicle sticks and badly applied rubber cement.
Our attack may be monstrous, but it will mean little if we allow Mallorca to put 3 beyond Valdes. Granada may have been lucky to get penalties to do just that, but they were still constantly attacking rather than being shown the side exit by a well-mannered, yet very insistent back line. And so, while the front is allowed to have fun, the back must be solid and stern, very Mr. Carson to the attack’s Lady Mary. There’s glory in keeping the house in order, you know.
So it is that Mallorca hosts Barç and the team has to continue to perform well while also continuing to put on the show that has made them so fun to watch recently. Messi can have another hat trick if he’d like, while Iniesta, Xavi, and Busquets are needed to hold down the fort in midfield, though Sport thinks Cesc will start head of Xavi. You can, however, start as brightly as you want, so long as you remember the final 89 minutes.