This has been a remarkable week, not in terms of football aesthetic but result-wise. In the UEFA Champions League odds-on favorites, and title-holders, Inter Milan were beaten 5-2 by Schalke 04, in the San Siro of all places. FC Barcelona and Real Madrid have all but secured their passage to the next round of the tournament, beating Shakhtar Donetsk & Tottenham Hotspur, 5-1 and 4-0 respectively.
The only tie that is still undecided, is Chelsea FC vs. Manchester United, with a narrowest of victories, 1-0, the Blues can still mount a realistic comeback over the Red Devils. Since the winner of this tie will be paired against Schalke 04 (no offense but I doubt that Inter Milan will score 4 goals in Gelsenkirchen, let alone keep a clean sheet), a Clasico semi-final looks likes the most likely scenario.
Starting with next Sunday’s La Liga Clasico, football fans will be treated to no less than four (!) Clasico’s within 18 days. There’s the aforementioned league match, the Copa del Rey final in Valencia and the two legs of the Champions League semi-final.
One way or another, some records are bound to fall. Will Lionel Messi continue to not score against Jose Mourinho managed sides or does Cristiano Ronaldo finally breaks his duck against FC Barcelona, having never scored against the Catalan club. Can Pep Guardiola maintain his victory streak against Real Madrid or will Jose Mourinho engineer another semi-final upset?
Heading into the last week before the all-deciding Clasico fixture on 17/04, FC Barcelona labored to another hard-fought 3-1 victory over Almeria, maintaining their eight-point lead over Real Madrid. Among the goal scorers, Thiago Alcantara; if there’s an upside to FC Barcelona recent injury woes it’s the incorporation of Barca’s talented youngsters.
Nevertheless, the absence of long-term injured Carles Puyol, Eric Abidal, Bojan (who picked up a season-ending injury) & Javier Mascherano (is suspended for the next match) could prove costly in next Sunday’s Clasico.
However, Pep Guardiola can welcome Pedro Rodriguez back into the fold. Without the speedy winger both, David Villa & Lionel Messi seem to have trouble finding the net with regularity. But in all fairness, La Pulga did score a brace against Almeria equaling his & Ronaldo’s record of 47 goals. With a four Clasico’s and still plenty of games on the horizon, little Lionel can only add to his overall goal-tally.
But at any rate, we, the Barca Blaugranes team, will provide coverage for the upcoming Clasico’s. And since our previews/reviews seem to have struck a nerve with our readers we will make it a permanent feature.