THAT in football, psychology and motivation are as important as fitness, tactics and temperament was proved beyond doubt in last week’s El Clasico.
After their exit from the Champions League, losing to Juventus in quarterfinal, Barcelona and their talismanic striker Lionel Messi were more motivated than Real Madrid and their spearhead Cristiano Ronaldo.
Failure to score in either leg against Juventus, clubbed with lack of goals in any of the last six El Clasicos, seemed to have motivated Messi to come up with his best.
The realisation that should they lose, the gap with arch-rivals Real would increase beyond reach also acted as a tonic to Barca and Messi’s last-gasp winner was the just reward for their motivational spirit.
Compared to Messi, Ronaldo went into the match having scored 12 goals in his last 11 matches, including five, and a hat-trick to top, against Bayern Munich. Obviously, he wasn’t as motivated as Messi and, no wonder, the Portuguese was eclipsed by the Argentinian.
For both Barca and Real, what’s ultimate is to tame the eternal rivals in their den. And the sub-plot in recent El Clasicos has always been the rivalry between Messi and Ronaldo. The Real Madrid star had said in one of his recent interviews that Messi was part of his motivation, adding he was sure he himself would be part of the Argentinian’s motivation too.
True, motivation is a crucial factor in setting and achieving goals. It’s all about intent, more than talent. We’ve seen quite a few highly-motivated performances at home too. Look at the way El Jaish knocked out league champions Lekhwiya in the Qatar Cup semifinal. There was that extra motivation in them because they knew it was one last shot at glory for them.
Similarly, Qatar Sports Club were supremely motivated against Shahaniya in the relegation play-off. They had nothing to lose, but everything to win. And they’re back in the top flight.
On the other side, Al Rayyan’s humiliating 1-5 defeat to Al Wahda in the AFC Champions League is a classic case of a team without any motivation.
It’s said ability is what you’re capable of doing, but motivation determines what you do.