With a little under 36 hours to go I assume the anticipation for tomorrow’s Clasico couldn’t be higher.
It will be the first of SEVEN Clasico’s in this calendar year. There’s tomorrow’s game, Wednesday’s Copa del Rey final, the two legs of the UEFA Champions League, the Spanish Super Cup matches and the regular La Liga game of the upcoming season.
In short, El Clásico overkill.
Personally, I’m running out of excuses to not spend time with my significant other, but then again it’s the Clasico’s.
What the Superbowl is to American sports fans, that’s the Clásico to both, Culés (FC Barcelona supporters) & Merengues (Real Madrid supporters) alike. I assume that for the duration of the game, friends who happen to support different teams will not acknowledge their friendship until after the match.
I have my own theory about fandom, I think one can switch through a lot of relationships or professions but pledging one’s alliance to another team is not likely.
The good side of it, it proves that mankind can be both devoted & loyal.
The bad side, during major sports events/matches involving "our" team we just zone out.
I guess tomorrow will be another occasion where spouses around the world are left wondering what to make of their partners constant mood swings.
Nevertheless, here’s is Part II of the Blaugranes Preview for those who decide to ditch relationship duties for 90-plus minutes of El Clasico extravaganza, on a Saturday night no less.
4. Since April will contest no less than four Clasico’s, how many Clasico’s do you think will be won by the Blaugrana?
Paul Udani: Since April will contest no less than four Clasico’s, how many Clasico’s do you think will be won by the Blaugrana? I think the Blaugrana will win a total of three Clasicos, one of the two semifinal legs as well as the Copa Del Rey final. And yes, next week.
Shehryar Khan: Hopefully all four. Realistically I think we'll win a couple with two draws. The two games at the Bernabeu would be crucial. A draw in the CL is vital and we need to win the Copa Del Rey final.
Gabriel Roberts: I'll say three: Liga, Copa, and the home tie in Champions. Un golpe muy duro al Madrid.
Bostjan Cernensek: The thing is, you can't win four El Clasico's in one month, or can you? The league El Clasico is the least important of the four, but a favorable result for Barcelona would put the final dent in Real's title hopes.
The Wednesday game is a final so that is a game Barcelona have to win and I don't care how Barca advance to the finals of the Champions League, I just want to see them advance.
The worst W-D-L line I would be satisfied with would be 2-1-1.
Adi-Oula Sebastian: Two, the Copa del Rey final and semi-final leg of the Champions League in the Camp Nou. On second thought I’m willing to stretch my forecast to as much as three, including this Saturday’s game.
Arron Duckling: I think Barcelona could win all 4, but given the "Mourinho factor", a realistic target is 2/3. Barca can afford to draw the 2 matches at the Bernabeu, and blitz them again at the Camp Nou and Mestalla. However, all signs that I have seen point to 4 Clasico victories and the continuation of Pep's 100% record vs Real.
5. If you had to choose between the semi-finals and the Copa del Rey final, which one would you prioritize?
PU: The Champions League.
GR: Champions, for sure. Copa del Rey is fun and all, but everybody knows that Champions League is way more important.
BC: Obviously I would like Barcelona to win both, but if I had to pick one I would give a greater importance to the Copa del Rey final. Why? Because it's a final and a win there would put another trophy in the trophy case.
AD: Champions League of course! Mourinho was brought in to win the league and/or the Champions League. Winning the domestic cup is not success for Real. Plus, who doesn't want revenge for Inter?
SK: That would be hard. As a fan you want the club to win everything but I guess the Champions League would take priority. I'm still pretty hopeful that we'll win both.
AOS: The Champions League, it’s club football’s most prestigious club competition.
6. What can we expect from Jose Mourinho, "park the bus" or attacking football?
GR: Madrid doesn't really have "park the bus" personnel, and no matter what Mourinho tells his men, they're going to come out flying in el Bernabeu. Barcelona will probably be the ones on the defensive in the opening minutes, but Madrid doesn't like to slow the pace with possession, so if Barcelona does manage to gain control of the game, we'll see some defensive football from "Los Blancos".
AOS: The Santiago Bernabeu faithful are just as demanding as the Barcelona fans but it must be said that it’s been almost three years since they enjoyed a victory over the Blaugrana. At this point in time I think they will even accept "Parking the bus" tactics if it guarantees trophies.
BC: Mourinho is a tough man to predict, but I think he will instruct his player to sit back, wait for chances and hope his strikers won't miss the opening chances like that did in the El Clasico in Barcelona.
AD: Good question. For the 2 leg encounter, he will probably play his usual Barca tactics, but for the other 2, I expect an attacking approach with a solid back four (e.g. no Marcelo).
PU: The Madrid audience will simply not allow just winning. They have to win with style. Remember Fabio Capello? He won the league, then got fired right after. Why? Because he grinded out a lot of 1-0 results. So, against Mourinho's better judgement, they'll attack.
SK: We'll see a mixture of both really. Knowing Mourinho, I think he'll try to take the early lead and then defend it with 11 men. It would also depend on how we play the first game. If we give them a thrashing then it's the bus we'll see!
7. Who is the FC Barcelona player you don’t want to see in the starting XI and why.
BC: I think this one will be pretty unanimous: it's Gabriel Milito. Simply put he has been awful this season and most of the games he played in were against worse teams than Real Madrid.
SK: Milito would be the obvious choice. If he plays Mou will target him. He's slow, hasn't had many games and is bound to make a mistake or two which could be crucial. I'm also not a very big fan of Mascherano but he's been faring pretty well off late. He's got a habit of making rash tackles and I'd hate to see Barcelona playing with ten men. But that’s just a thought.
GR: Seydou Keita, as much as I love him. Keita starting would likely mean Busquets at center-back instead of Milito. Most will probably say Milito is the man they don't want to see out there, but I thought he was superb against Almeria, and we need some strength and experience in the back.
AD: Gabriel Milito. Do I need a reason?
PU: Milito. Do we really need an explanation for this?
AOS: His name is Milito, Gabriel Milito.
8. Could a possible defeat derail FC Barcelona’s remaining campaign?
SK: No it won't. We're a professional team who go about their business week in week out. A defeat would be demoralizing but we'll come back stronger.
GR: I don't think they'll lose La Liga, no matter what the result on Saturday, but a blow-out win for Madrid would be a tough blow to Barcelona's confidence, especially considering they'll square off again in the Bernabeu in the Champions League semifinals.
BC: The league is still undecided, but not even a loss at the Santiago Bernabeu should derail Barcelona’s campaign.
AD: That depends. If Barca attempt to win on Saturday, play their best and lose, then possibly, but this is a double-edged sword, and if the Blaugrana register yet another win in enemy territory, then it will be the mentally-fragile Los Blancos who will implode.
PU: No. I feel the lead is too big now, and we have gone thru the toughest games on the toughest venues. The toughest game Barcelona has left is the Catalan derby with Espanyol at the Nou Camp. Plus, Madrid still has to visit the Mestalla (Valencia), Sanchez Pizjuan (Sevilla) and El Madrigal (Villarreal). Ouch!!!
AOS: Personally, If FC Barcelona HAD to lose any game it would be Saturday’s Clasico because it would prevent Pep’s players to become complacent. Besides, only an implosion of 2006/2007 levels could prevent FC Barcelona from bagging another La Liga title.
Real Madrid 2 Barcelona 6 (via vamosriver2008)