What happens when two of the best teams face each other with the goal of winning La Liga? Clearly one team would leave the game less than thrilled about the outcome, however, with the level of competition as high as it was both teams were likely to work as hard as possible to win the game. This is to be expected, but can prove to be detrimental when both teams, regardless of winning or losing, were to play again in a few days in the semi-finals of the Champions League.
Luckily for Real Madrid, they came out as a strong contender to win La Liga by beating Barcelona 2 to 1 on Saturday. However, this left them exhausted when it came time to play Bayern Munich in the semi-finals of the Champions League on Wednesday. One may think that being close to winning La Liga could act as ignition and motivation to continue on and do well against Bayern Munich. One small factor may affect this though: exhaustion. After playing a tough game against Barcelona, followed by 120 minutes against Bayern Munich, the exhaustion was clearly beginning to set in. This could be seen at the very end of the game during the penalty kicks. Ronaldo, who had gone 25 for 25 in penalty kicks prior to this game, missed his penalty kick. We know Ronaldo can make penalty kicks, as the record clearly indicates. He even did so earlier in the match. However, there is only so much physical exertion that players can handle. Throughout the game you could see the players exhaustion set in, and eventually it got the best of them.
For Barcelona, the difficulties began after losing to Real Madrid. However, they went into the Chelsea game on Tuesday highly favored as the one to beat. Based off prior games and the way the season had gone for both teams, this should have been the case. Throughout the game Barcelona played their typical style: constant passing, making runs towards goal, and consistently putting Chelsea under pressure. The one thing they were lacking was the ability to score goals. For Chelsea to be playing a man down, they did a great job holding off the Barcelona offense. Messi had a moment very similar to Ronaldo, one nearly unheard of: missing a penalty kick. Two of what are considered to be the best players in the world missing penalty kicks? Clearly it’s not skill that’s lacking.
So what can players do to continue and persevere even when exhausted? The Boston Globe titled an article “Messi makes a mess of things for Barcelona.” Sure, it’s true that Messi missed a penalty kick, but the other question to ask is what about the other ten players on the field? When players begin to get exhausted they should be able to lean on their teammates for support and encouragement. The players who have played less time in the games should be able to back up and support those who have been playing longer, and therefore are likely to be more tired. When a team loses or wins, it’s not one player who made this happen, it’s the entire team. It’s important to remember that you’re less likely to accomplish your goal, or win a game, if the entire team isn’t working together towards the same purpose. This also means accepting the fate, even if a loss, together.