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EL Clasico: The Past, Present and the Future

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It’s that time of the year again, the first of at least two clashes between the Spanish "Big Two" in 2011/2012. A game followed globally by millions of people for a lot of reasons. The football is of the highest level; both teams are loaded with international stars and almost every team out there – if not all – can be the happiest to secure the signatures of the players that FC Barcelona and Real Madrid leave on the Bench. A lot has happened in the past between the two sides, there is a lot happening at the moment and each side is definitely looking to dominate the other in the future. The Capital club needs to stop Barcelona’s domination both in Spain and Europe while the Blaugrana outfit will be looking forward to winning a lot more to eventually secure a title of being the best club side to ever play the beautiful game.

In the Last 12 Months

A lot has happened since last year. There have been a total of 7 Clasicos in four competitions and 4 trophies were won or lost in the process. In the seven games, there have been 3 draws, one win for Madrid and three wins for Barcelona. If goals excite you as a fan of the game, you are less likely to be disappointed in the EL Clasico with an average of three goals per game in the last 7 games (21 in total), Barcelona scoring 14 goals in the process and conceding 7.

1. The League

In the two league games played in 2010/2011, Barcelona was dominant, winning the first game at the Camp Nou and drawing the second at the Bernabeu. The first game was a delight for us Cules and it was a special welcome to Spain for Mourinho, with Barcelona showing him the kind of challenge he had to look forward to if he was to repeat the success he had in Italy. The team was absolutely dominant in the 90 minutes, scoring 5 goals in the process and conceding none. It was the second league game that went on to show that Mourinho did learn something from his attempt of playing Barcelona openly/ trying to match them in their own game. He came out strong and physical in the second league game putting men behind the Ball and discovering Pepe’s special abilities in the process. Two goals were scored in that game, both from the spot by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Unfortunately for them, the point Madrid earned in that game was not enough to stop Pep Guardiola’s men from going on to retain the league title.

2. The Copa Del Rey

A lot was noted from this game, with Madrid fans still able to reference it whenever a discussion starts about Barca and Madrid. Mourinho came out with a formation exactly matching Barcelona’s, denying them a shot on target in the first half. Barcelona came out strong in the second half and even after Iniesta and Pedro came close to beating Casillas, the game was still tied after 90 min. Barcelona went on to lose the game courtesy of an extra time header from Ronaldo, denying the team and us Cules a second treble in three years.

3. The Champions League

This two-legged semi final tie between the two sides was the last of the 4 games in 18 days and the intensity was even higher both before and after the matches, in the pitch and off it. The first leg, played in Madrid, proved to be the decisive of the two games with Barcelona edging their opponent by 2 goals to nil and Madrid yet again ended the game with ten men. The 2nd leg at the Camp Nou was approached almost the same way by both sides, with each team being a big threat in front of goal. The 3-1 aggregate score allowed Barcelona to go through to Wembely to eventually win the Cup for the second time in just three years.

4. The Spanish Supercup

A lot of people made some funny conclusions and remarks after this two-legged tie, most saying that even though Barca retained the cup Madrid were now at Barca’s level. Barcelona was pressed strongly in the first leg, denied their usual lion’s share of possession and almost losing the game. It ended 2-2 in the end with Messi and Villa stealing two goals from just two shots on target. The second leg saw Barca back in charge of yet another close game. Messi was very decisive, creating a goal and netting two for himself. Unfortunately people were not talking about the 5-4 aggregate win in the end as a couple of a people plus a "Special One" stole the show with some non-football stuff that a lot of people will be very happy to forget.

At Present

At the moment almost everyone is hyped up about the upcoming Clasico. I wonder what people will do if there was an option of knowing the result before watching the game, I think some would take it just to ease down their nerves. Barcelona is three points behind Madrid having played one more game going into this Clasico. The people who said Madrid had caught up with Barca after the Supercopa only have a few hours to find out if they were correct. Some say that the pressure is on our team to perform because we are behind but I think Madrid have their fair share of pressure for the very same reason. They are yet to beat Barca over 90 minutes in a very long time and they have been dominated a lot both locally and in Europe. Both teams are all still with a chance to win all competitions they are in, with Barcelona having one more in the Club World Cup. If they both remain strong, they will definitely meet somewhere in the UCL and the CDR.

What Madrid will get if they win is an advantage, not the title. Some predict that Mourinho will be targeting a draw; I honestly doubt that since the game is at the Bernabeu, he will be looking to excite their fans. Both teams dominated their groups at the CL getting massive goal differences in the process. They both also thrashed majority of their opponents in the league with huge score lines. While Madrid seems as fit as ever, Barcelona’s away form is not that impressive in the league. Both teams are a little lucky with injuries recently; their stars will be fit and ready for the encounter.

The Future

No one knows what the future holds, all we have is hope. Madrid will be looking to end Barcelona’s domination and Barcelona will hope to continue beating Madrid Left, right and center. We the fans will always be close behind our teams, cheering for them. The only thing this clash needs is to stop the non-football stuff, they are spoiling the competition.

People in the Spot light

1. Mourinho

He’s done some pretty weird stuff in the past; it will be interesting to see what he has in store for us this time. I will be more than happy to hear his next reason for losing (if he does lose) because it has never been his fault before.

2. Lionel Messi

He has been a difference maker in a lot of Clasicos in the past. He scores and creates goals for fun especially at the Bernabeu. Can he continue the streak? We don’t have long to find out.

3. Sergio Ramos/Pepe/Marcelo

If there are players who love to be booked, it’s these guys. A miss-timed tackled or a bad last-ditch tackle is expected in the game but most of the tackles made by these guys in the past are just ridiculous. I’m curious to find out who will lose it this time.

4. The Referee

I know it seems a little uncalled for to have this guy in this list, but he will be under a lot of pressure if the coming Clasico resembles any of the ones I’ve learned to love. My advice to him is to follow his instinct and control the game as much as he can because he’s the man in charge. Everyone in the stadium should dance to his music and it should not be the other way round.

It’s unwise to dwell from the past, we learn from it, we celebrate it and we reference it. We then live in the moment and look forward to the future. It’s pointless to start an endless discussion about how many times we beat Madrid and how many cups we’ve won in the process; the most important thing is always the next game. We can sit down and smile about last season’s Manita, but a win in the up-coming tie will make us happier. What makes this game special is the way in which it is unpredictable. One thing is for sure though, football unites a lot of people from different backgrounds and cultures and the El Clasico does that best.

Be Sure to join us for the Live Match Thread to discuss things with other Cules as they happen, and REMEMBER that win, lose or draw it’s only a game.

Visca el Barca!

For more on El Clasico, check out the SBNation coverage of Real Madrid vs Barcelona

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