On the BBC, the MSN, and Diego Simeone

MSN, the acronym for Barça's current deadly attack force: Messi, Luis Suarez, Neymar. BBC, the acronym for Real Madrid's current deadly attack force: Bale, Benzema and Cristiano. It's a little unfair for Messi and Cristiano to have their clear superiority diluted in the these linguistic formulae associating them with what are merely very good forwards. Both formulations also hide a second error. It seems the thinking is that deploying three great strikers of such quality (here read MSN and BBC) makes a team unstoppable, but that hasn't been the case. Atlético Madrid rise to their level, as do other teams quite frequently.

There's something perverse in the idea of playing with three greats up front: What happens behind them becomes irrelevant and is ignored. The ingenuity of the front three, the kinetic combination of their talent, their joy of playing together, the onslaught in the opposition box. Naturally, they're not all that interested in or alive to what's happening when they don't have the ball. Against lesser and mediocre teams they run riot, teams who retreat into their area and count the seconds until full-time awaiting the inevitable decapitation. Better teams don't. Better teams play to a plan, dare to attack, create chances and win the midfield through greater effort and a greater presence. They threaten the opposition goal. When this happens, if the tridents up front don't score a hatful, their team loses.

Something close to this happened to Barcelona on Sunday. It's true that they created plenty of chances and Diego Alves was inspired, but it wasn't true that "Valencia scored two goals with one shot on goal". Rodrigo and Alcácer both missed easy chances. Valencia, better armoured under Ayestarán, fashioned clear opportunities. The three luxuries up front, whether at Barça or Madrid, leaves them open to opponents. The BBC tracked back in the Camp Nou Clásico, yes, but it was an exception to the rule that governs both the MSN and the BBC. That's why Simeone's Atlético, free of phenomena and acronyms, stands on equal terms with Barça and Real Madrid.