A week that began With Sergio going full Llull ended with an obliteration of the Blaugrana. Real Madrid picked a great week to put the doubters on notice, writes Emmet Ryan
The week is going to be remembered for the block. That moment when Anthony Randolph ended Joey Dorsey. That Barça recovered and scored almost immediately felt irrelevant. Dorsey rose high ina classic poster pose and Randolph just dismissed him. The block wasn’t even that angry or vicious, it was just really well executed. That was enough to humiliate Dorsey. Seems an apt metaphor for the game.
Real’s dismantling of the Blaugrana at the Palau was a moment in its own right. Even allowing for the home side’s injury woes, this was obscene. You just don’t let your rival come to your house and win by 39 points. Never mind have them come to your place and look like they could have won by more than. Real had to earn that and they did so even with a quiet night from their Slovenian sensation Luka Doncic.
The week belonged to Llull. He won an epic duel with Nick Calathes in Madrid on Wednesday then put up a 20 point and 7 assists away to Barcelona. In these post Chacho days, Real need a man who can be relied on to stand up and say “I got this.”
It’s a big change from pre-season where the appearance was that this side would be always forced to grind. The star power was there but the total package looked like one that was going to be chasing on the fringes for a top four spot. The trouble with that isn’t just that it’s a lot more draining over a 30 game season, it’s also not the identity this team has or wants. These are players used to front running and forcing opponents to catch them. Players that want to go toe to toe with a foe playing full on. Mentally, a grinder of a season would serve them no benefit. Los Blanco need to fight with flair.
This week, in both a squeaker and a blowout we saw that. Real have the swagger they never showed last season. This isn’t a team built to conquer all before it, there are too many loaded rosters in this league for that to be realistic. Right now however it is a side capable of bringing its game whenever it wants and forcing opponents to fight on those terms.
For Madrid to be final four contenders and make to Istanbul, this identity is vital. This week, we saw that it can find it and force opponents to play against Real’s real game.