FC Barcelona vs. Real Madrid: 2nd leg Supercopa Clasico preview

Let's be friends...after the game!

Just one more day before…yet another Clasico, the sixth but (un)fortunately not last. There’s still the La Liga Clasico to be played later this year. Under normal circumstances, the casual football fan would suffer from oversaturation. But, that’s the Clasico. It’s the world’s most popular regular season game, in any sport. Though football derbies worldwide tend to be hugely intense affairs, this one stands out. It’s never just the clash of two league rivals; it’s the clash between two entities that starve for supremacy, both domestic and continental. While a victory is always a reason to celebrate, the fans of either team will go into frenzy should their favored team win the game. Barcelona’s Plaça de Catalunya becomes the epicenter for the festivities if the Blaugrana were to emerge as victors. The Clasico is also a perfectly legitimate reason to temporarily put a friendship on hold. As my buddy and colleague, Managing Madrid’s Editor-in-Chief, Gabe Lezra, has put it, for 90 minutes or so we’re enemies.

 

 

I’m a madridista de corazón, and I’m pretty damn sure that Sebastian is a culé. Just because we don’t hate each other doesn’t mean we don’t disagree. I’m pretty old-school in that respect: we can be friends 99% of the time, but when our teams play…well, we’re mortal enemies. - Gabe Lezra

For the duration of the match I consider every white shirt in close proximity persona non grata. It might not always be the spectacle that is advertised, but it rarely, if ever, leaves the spectators unaffected. Whether your favorite team is winning or losing, you’re bound to express some sort of emotion. Even certified couch potatoes become hugely animated. I too, join the chorus of irrational fans who scream at the top of their lungs….at the screen. Perfectly aware that none of the (Barca) players hear my tactical instructions, nor the Madrid guys my extensive vocabulary of slurs and insults. Emotions boil over, on and off the pitch. Every action, foul, or refereeing decision for or against ones favorite team is put under a microscope. And it’s never just a bad call, there must be some sort of blatant favoritism going on. Unless the game is won, or lost, by a large margin, the most ignorant of fan will probably start an explanation with the words "if" or "because".

If it weren’t for…(fill in the blanks here)

or

Because of...(once again, fill in the blanks here)...we would’ve won the game.

Though FC Barcelona overcame a one goal deficit and, for a while, even led in the first leg of the Supercopa, the Blaugrana were lucky to escape the Santiago Bernabeu with a point. Taking all into account, the 2-2 draw past Sunday was perhaps the worst Clasico performance by FC Barcelona in the Pep Guardiola era. Frankly, I still can’t identify a positive in Barca’s woeful display. To many fans the explanation was as obvious as it is simple, FC Barcelona were missing Xavi. While there might be some merit to this suspicion, as wonderful a football player he is, he is still just a single player in a collective of many. It’s a weak argument. In my mind no one should be irreplaceable, especially not in a team sport. I refuse to accept Xavi’s absence as an explanation for an abysmal display. If all it takes to derail FC Barcelona, a team considered being one the best of all-time, is the nonappearance of Xavi – then I guess the plaudits are unwarranted. Until Pep Guardiola starts playing an abomination of the 3-4-3 system with just one center back, I will continue to highlight Barca’s lack of depth in central defense. For better or worse (I’m inclined to believe worse), Pep Guardiola appears to put a lot of faith in the squad available to him, even in Andreu Fontas. If Andreu Fontas is the best back-up option Pep Guardiola has at his disposal…well, I’ll start hedge my bets by allocating funds to another team. As much as I’m a fan, I never make a decision based on feelings. Men lie, women lie, numbers don’t.  The odds of Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol not sustaining a long-term injury over the course of this season are not favorable. Contrary, the likelihood of either getting injured is highly probable. Even though some fans don’t want to believe it, Carles Puyol is not getting any younger. He is not the Catalan version of AC Milan’s Paolo Maldini. The now retired ex-Italy international was a one off. However, Carles Puyol remains a hugely important player for FC Barcelona. Still, Captain Caveman won’t be around forever and there must be a life AFTER Puyol. Though I hope I’m wrong, I still believe Real Madrid will win the Supercopa, mostly because Carles Puyol is missing.

Isn’t it ironic? I have already prepared MY excuse for a defeat. 

 

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