HAY LIGA! Words, most Culés have heard over the last few weeks. 10…8…6…4..Houston, Madrid have a problem.
But Barcelona need a difference at the top of 3 points or less. If the point difference were to further reduce, then we can actually say that the Blaugrana stand a chance. The Clasico, simply cannot be taken for granted. And in fact, it is probably the only game during a league season when Barcelona are NOT clear favourites.
Yes, it is at the Camp Nou. Yes, we have Pep Guardiola at the helm. Yes, God happens to be wearing blue and red (God in all white is so clichéd anyhow, right?). Yes, our recent record against Madrid has been superb (barely believable). Then why am I always so nervous when it’s time for another Clasico?
Well, besides the fact that I worry if Pepe will kill Messi, Iniesta or Arbeloa if Madrid are not winning, we have to realise that Real Madrid has a huge, expensively built squad that was tailor made to beat Barcelona. It’s another thing that I believe Barcelona is still by far the best team in the world but resting on one’s laurels will never get a team silverware.
It’s simply a matter of information. Two teams have been playing each other regularly, both teams gain more information about the other every game. The team/manager that can collate and make sense out of that information stands a better chance in the next game. Information and small details, ladies and gents, that’s it. Past records stand for nothing as far as how a future game will go.
Indeed, if somebody were to have asked me about a month back, I would have agreed (reluctantly) that Madrid were the better team (10 point difference and all), but now, circumstances have forced me to state that I might have actually been a little hard on our team (because I didn’t consider the bigger picture). Mind you, I still believe that Barca have not performed as well as last year (with respect to the league) but it seems we haven’t done too bad either.
Firstly, a combination of tough fixtures and some horrendous referee decisions in addition to injuries have seen us drop points early in the season. Madrid kept extending that lead.
Second, that lead has diminished. Really all there is to it…it is no longer 10 points but 4. What does that change for the team itself?(the actual squad not us fans) Well, not a god damned thing. If anything, Pep Guardiola’s press conference says it all. Pep being…Pep, remains pessimistic(rightly so) and has stated that the absurdity of fans (my words, not his. I’m just trying to make sure all of you get the tone/point) believing that Barca will DEFINITELY win all their games and in particular, the clasico is nothing short of annoying.
It’s this presumptuous line of thought that, when spread, can infect the squad as well. Can Barca win the league? Sure, there is a chance. After all, 4 is better than 10 and is probably a fairer reflection on Barca’s season if compared to Madrid’s. This is where Barca deserve to be. But Madrid leading by 4 is also where they deserve to be.
Now, what happens next depends on both teams. Make no mistake, how Barca performs from now on till the end of the season is what will decide everything and is infinitely more important than how Madrid play from now on. Do we depend on Madrid losing points? Without a doubt but that won’t even be a question to consider or rather, it is an after thought. Barca have to win all their games and only after, can we afford to think about Madrid dropping points.
That said, there are certain stats that distract us fans from focussing on Barcelona’s fixtures alone (again, I cannot overstate this enough, thinking about Barcelona’s games is the only way to go), namely: April, last year, saw Madrid drop quite a few points and was also the major factor in Barcelona winning the league. In fact, the Capital side didn’t do too well at the Bernabeu either. So, obviously, omens combined with the rather difficult fixtures that Madrid have this season (not like we have it easier, I am so not looking forward to Levante away),forces fans to become a little too optimistic in our chances.
Like whenever Arron sounds overtly optimistic in his previews, my superstitious ways forces imaginary alarm bells to go off. If we lose the league (which is highly likely), Barca would have done quite well over the entire season. 4 points behind the leaders is acceptable and understandable considering the injuries that the team has suffered this year(and other factos like not playing well in away games). If we win it? It’ll be one for the history books. No team has come back from a 10 point deficit to win the league (and considering the opponent, this will be very difficult). Can we win it? Sure, but Real Madrid are favourites to win this league and sometimes we just need to wake up and smell the doo-doo(pardon my french). Here’s hoping all of us are realistic about our chances and that Pep and co. surprise us so that everybody can pick on "pessimistic Inder" after the season is done.