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El Clasico: FC Barcelona vs Real Madrid: Scout Report

An in-depth look at our opponents, Real Madrid, including a look at their manager - Jose Mourinho, their best player - Cristiano Ronaldo, and their strengths and weaknesses

Dean Mouhtaropoulos - Getty Images

Judgement day is almost upon us – tomorrow evening, Barcelona host Real Madrid in the match of the season so far; a match that could have a huge say in this year’s title race. A Blaugrana win increases the gap between the two clubs to a staggering (irrecoverable?) eleven points, and even if Los Blancos get the victory, they will still find themselves five points adrift of their eternal rivals. Jose Mourinho’s side will be high on confidence after winning their last three matches, but Barcelona fans can take comfort in the fact that Real Madrid have not claimed back-to-back Clasico victories since 2008.

Manager – Jose Mourinho

What else can we say about Jose Mourinho? Like him or loathe him, he is known as The Special One for a reason after all. He is the only man to win titles in England, Italy and Spain, while Jose is one of an elite group of three managers who can claim to have won the UEFA Champions League/European Cup as the manager of two different teams. Mourinho’s record as a manager is utterly exceptional – across the board his win percentage as a coach is roughly 70% and in his eight full seasons as a manager, he has won the league (of that given country) seven times – with the only exception being Barcelona’s 2010/11 La Liga title. Sure, his record against Barcelona isn’t anywhere close to that 70% mark, but he can claim to have engineered victories when it matters – with the greatest triumph of all being his victory over two-legs in the 2009/10 UEFA Champions League semi-final. While you may not like Jose Mourinho, the person, it’s hard not to respect Jose Mourinho, the manager.

Key Player – Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo. Sometimes – only sometimes mind you – I feel sorry for the Portuguese winger. After all, it must be difficult to play in the same era as Lionel Messi when you are as talented as Cristiano. In fact, one could argue that Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the greatest players of all-time, but as he features in the same era as Messi, he doesn’t receive anywhere near enough adulation. Probably for good reason though; who else would have the audacity to claim that opposing fans dislike them because of they are "rich, handsome and a great player"?

Regardless of his attitude, Ronaldo is a phenomenal player and without a shadow of a doubt, he is the danger-man for Los Blancos in tomorrow’s match. 158 goals in 154 games, you simply cannot argue with that record, no matter how you feel about his personality. Oh, and bear in mind that Ronaldo has managed that sort of a goal-scoring record from the wing. Inder tackled the Alex Song issue with an article today, and in it, he predicted (somewhat pessimistically) that Ronaldo will have a field day tomorrow, and it’s hard to disagree. The man we once enjoyed making fun of as a "big-game bottler" is now delivering in each and every Clasico. Five goals in his last five matches against Barcelona, or six in his last seven; Ronaldo is finding his feet in El Clasico and if his career serves as any indication, he will only improve. On the other hand, while Ronaldo was the undisputed MOTM in the last meeting between the two sides, he put in that match-winning performance against an out-of-position Adriano. Will Dani Alves’ Clasico return make an impact? We’ll just have to wait and see.


· Scoring goals and creating chances

Might as well get the obvious one out of the way – this Real Madrid side just ooze goals from every pore. 121 goals in last season’s La Liga; how can you defend against that with your best defense, let alone with your second-string centre-halves? Making that’s being harsh on Javier Mascherano who has been excellent in the centre of defense, but for someone as untested as Song to be thrown in against this Madrid side? It’s asking for trouble. Real will create chances, and it’s likely that they will score some of those chances – what it boils down to is how many they score, and if Barcelona can score more.

· Fast starters

As it stands, Real Madrid would sit in second place in the La Liga table, just a single goal away from first-place Atletico Madrid – but that’s only if results at half-time are taken into consideration. Real Madrid will start well tomorrow – they have to – but it’s how they respond after half-time that matters.

· Pace on the counter and general athleticism

Freaks of nature: it’s arguably the best description of this Real Madrid side. Almost everyone stands over six foot tall, and if they don’t, it’s probably because they are phenomenally quick. From Pepe to Ramos to Benzema, Madrid have an athletic side that are unlikely to tire as the game progresses unlike the majority of Barcelona’s opposition in the season so far. Could that be an issue for Tito Vilanova’s team?


· Away form

Here’s a table detailing Real Madrid’s performances home and away (in the league and UCL).



Points (League Only)






Passing Accuracy



Aerial Duels Won






Shots on Target



Successful Dribbles



Shots Conceded



Fouls Conceded



I’d say that’s pretty enlightening on its own, just look at the massive fall in productivity when Madrid travel away from the Bernabeu. Less possession, more wayward passing, less commitment in aerial battles; fewer shots and shots on target, but more shots conceded. Just like Barcelona faltered away from home last season, Real are finding it hard this year.

· Wastefulness in front of goal

Sure, I noted that Real Madrid creates a lot of chances, but that means they also waste a lot of chances. Real Madrid average one more shot per game in La Liga this season (compared to Barcelona), but score roughly a goal less. Will that wastefulness come back to haunt them tomorrow evening?

For more Barcelona vs Real Madrid coverage, be sure to check out our Clasico Storystream

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