It looks like Barcelona has inherited Real Madrid's "galactico" problem, suggests Phil Ball of ESPN Soccernet. A lineup containing Ronaldinho, Leo Messi, Thierry Henry, Samuel Eto'o, Deco and the emerging Mexican starlet Giovanni Dos Santos might just have one ego too many, as evidenced by the noticeable lack of cohesion from Barca's disgruntled superstars at Osasuna (0-0 tie on Sunday). Many in the Spanish press predicted that the Catalans would suffer in Pamplona, and suffer they did. Henry was awful, Ronaldinho lacked effort (for which he was substituted early in the second half) and Leo Messi, tired after his exertions with Argentina, sat. Gio Dos Santos was Barca's only bright spot, though his replacement, young newcomer Bojan Krkic, was even brighter.
Blame it on the international break. Real Madrid was also less than sharp despite winning, 3-1, at home to newly promoted Almeria. Ball says the Spanish champion won by "a falsely comfortable margin thanks to some strange refereeing decisions in their favor." Ironically, the ref was Catalan. Real's passing was nowhere near as sharp as it was against Villarreal two weeks ago, but tidy forward play from Javier Saviola and another brilliant free kick from Wesley Sneijder saw the Merengues through.
The best team of the weekend was, unquestionably, Sevilla. The UEFA Cup champions dismantled Recreativo Huelva, 4-1, thanks to more excellent wing play from Duda on the left and Dani Alves on the right. The finishing from Alexandr Kerzhakov and Frederic Kanoute (who each scored twice) was equally brilliant.