I’ve always loved El Clasico – partly because I just love the thought of my favorite club thrashing our eternal rivals. Of course the result doesn’t always go the way of the Azulgranes, and when they do win, Madridistas have an annoying habit of starting to gloat like they just murdered our club.
But then again, this IS the El Clasico, the grand-daddy of all European rivalries (Manchester fans can sod off if they think theirs is bigger) – with almost an equal number of wins between the two Spanish giants and a huge amount of history, about 100 years of it – this fixture is special!
Also, both clubs have such different attitudes towards discipline, humility and style of play. Barca pass the ball all round the opposition, patiently waiting for an opening and taking their chances. Gracious in victory and in defeat, the name on the front of the shirt is bigger than the name on the back. Real Madrid play a high-tempo counter attacking style and are the best team in La Liga – if not the world – at it. Their players are good but often their ego and lack of spirit sees them frustrated as was apparent against Sevilla at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.
Jose Mourinho himself said and I quote, ‘The world stops for El Clasico, it is football’s biggest rivalry and a special fixture for all involved – players, coaches, fans’ and he’s right. I don’t like him a bit but he is correct when he is.
And that brings me to this year’s Clasico. When I say this year’s, I actually mean the first league fixture between the two. In the last three years these two clubs have battled it out 14 times and Barca look to be statistically better but the most recent of these clashes ended up in Madrid’s favor in the Spanish Supercup.
However, since that match FC Barcelona have a 100% record in all competitions under Tito Vilanova and while Madrid have impressed in their last two matches, recording wins with a 5-1 and 4-1 margin each time, their league form has flattered to deceive.
Even though it is only matchday 7, this fixture sees Barca already sitting pretty – eight points ahead of Madrid. Like the Clasico at Camp Nou last year was a must-win for Barca, this one is a must-win for Madrid. Sure, most players and fans will play down its significance and say ‘its only three points’ and that ‘the entire league season still remains’ but with the results we’ve come to expect of FC Barcelona and Real Madrid – eight points, and potentially eleven is still a mammoth gap. One I don’t see the Merengues recovering from.
As a fan of FC Barcelona, I hope they absolutely annihilate Real Madrid, smash them from here to the moon and back. As a fan of football, I hope for a match of attractive football with no unpleasant elements (Pepe, Marcelo I hope you’re reading this) and I hope and pray that we get a staggering match worthy of this great rivalry.
All in all, let’s hope this match is a cracker, like it almost always is!
Likely Line – ups :
FC Barcelona (4-3-3) :
Valdes ; Alves – Mascherano – Song – Alba ; Iniesta – Busquets – Xavi ; Pedro – Messi – Sanchez
Real Madrid (4-2-3-1) :
Casillas ; Arbeloa, Ramos, Pepe, Coentrao ; Alonso, Khedira ; Di Maria, Modric, Ronaldo ; Benzema