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A Super-Clasico for Real Madrid

Real Madrid's fans are in rapture: Robinho has finally been given (and is taking) his chance, Raul is scoring again, the players have learned how to defend as a team, and as a result, Los Merengues produced their best performance of the season yesterday, beating bitter rival Barcelona 2-0 at home in the most emphatic and rewarding Superclasico for Madrileleños since Real's 4-2 victory over Barca in April 2005. ESPN Soccernet's Phil Ball points that just a week ago, bemused Spanish media outlet La Marca was asked "Es posible jugar peor?" (Is it possible to play worse?), following Madrid's lifeless 1-0 loss away to Getafe. The day after that game, Coach Fabio Capello offered his resignation, which was promptly rejected by President Ramon Calderon. Capello later told his players that if they ever played so badly again, he would quit the game and move into a monastery. After the Getafe match, the Catalans were rejoicing "at the further evidence that the house of Bernabéu was still in disarray." Not so much disarray, but a walking disaster, even worse than last year. But, oh what a difference a week makes, and, possibly, the decision to include Robinho, whom Capello at that point had given no chance all season. Come Steaua Buchuresti in the Champions League in midweek, a Robinho-inspired Real thoroughly trounced the Romanians on their home turf, giving the team the kind of fluency and confidence it needed ahead of yesterday's big match. Real also got a little help from Chelsea, which handed Barcelona its first loss of the season at Stamford Bridge. All these factors were enough to turn the tide in Real's favor, and following Sunday's performance, Real now finds itself fourth, just two points behind leader Barcelona and Valencia, and full of confidence.

Read the whole story at ESPN Soccernet »

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