The big one is here. Real Madrid vs Barcelona. Two of the worlds biggest clubs. It is the grand daddy of all derbies. The blockbuster showdown that needs no more introduction.
For me, this is the most important match of the season for Real Madrid, for two reasons. One, is that this is the El Clasico which means that we simply cannot loose this game, no matter what the situation is. Second, Real Madrid need the 3 points to close the gap on Barcelona.
It may also help other teams such as Sevilla and Valencia. I just don’t want Barcelona to run away with the title.
Real Madrid are currently sitting 4rth in the table, a woping 9 points behind Barcelona. If Barcelona win this then I am afraid, the lead is going to be unimaginably big for Real Madrid to cut down in the second half of the season.
While many pundits have declared that Real Madrid are going to get thrashed by Barcelona because of the recent form of both the teams. Real Madrid playing their worst football in 3 years and Barcelona playing their best football, defensively and offensively, in 3 years.
Barcelona have scored the most this season and have conceded the least. They are top of the table. Top of the Champions League table. They have humiliated sides infront of their opponents own home fans and at their fortress Camp Nou, they have just decimated teams.
While, I can go on for another half and hour of how Barcelona are in better shape than Real Madrid in every sense of the word, at the moment. Let me just put an end to this by saying that In El Clasico, stats are about as useful as a garbage can.
When Fabio Capello was incharge, everyone thought Real Madrid would get thumped in both of the league matches between these two and the stats supported that opinion but what happened?
Real Madrid won at the Bernabeu 2-0 and drew at Camp Now 3-3 (Barcelona barely stayed with Real Madrid and that only because of the player known as Lionel Messi, who scored the 3 goals, one in the 90th minute).
The Situation was more or less the same last season when Schuster was in charge. Real Madrid again beat Barcelona 0-1 at Camp Nou, again proving that in El Clasico, form does not matter.
It’s just not a regular match between regular players. Last time I checked. All the FIFA WORLD PLAYER OF THE YEAR were from these two teams in the last decade or so (excluding 2007 and 2008).
Real Madrid annihilated Barcelona in their last meeting, at Bernabeu. We beat Barcelona 4-1. Thrashed them.
This time, I am not expecting the same but I am not expecting Real Madrid to make a fool of themselves in front of Barcelona fans either.
Last time around, Barcelona had to make an Guard Of Honour for Real Madrid players, as we had already clinched the title before the Clasico. That was one of the most dispicable of insults imaginable to Barcelona.
Now, 7 months later. The two teams have literally swapped fortunes. Real Madrid have been surrounded by crisis, injuries, management problems and dressing room problems which lead to our star man Robinho leaving the club and Schuster getting sacked.
And while all this was happening at the white house. Our eternal rivals, were flourishing. Messi, Eto’o and Henry, combined many times, destroying teams within half an hour time period. Barcelona brought new faces into the squad in the summer while Real Madrid weakened their’s. Barcelona changed the coach but did not change their philosphy of how football should be played.
Real Madrid on the other hand, had all sorts of problems relating to that. Some fans (and directors alike) wanted results while others wanted flow, rhythm and magic football which lead to Schuster making insane decisions (in order to keep both sides of the sea happy).
Barcelona look invincible at the moment, they are untouchable. On current form, there aren’t many managers around the world who are denying the fact that Barcelona is going to sweep everything this season (League and Champions League). No one in Europe is dominating as much as Barcelona is currently dominating.
Barcelona have literally destroyed everyone of their title rivals. Only Real Madrid and Villareal have not come in their way to live through the force the battering that Barcelona has given to teams like Sevilla (0-3, away from home) to Valencia (4-0) at home and not to mention, Atletico Madrid (6-1 at home).
May be Barcelona should thank Real Madrid for thumping them 4-1 seven months ago which paved way for the sacking of Rijkaard, Ronaldinho and Deco and brought the revolutionist in Guardiola.
Such as been Barcelona’s form that it even lead to a sacked coach. Bernd Schuster out of desperation said that Real Madrid has no chance of winning at Camp Nou and that was enough for Mijatovic to relieve him of his duties. Schuster became the 7nth coach to get the axe in the last 5 and a half years at Real Madrid.
I think, Schuster sacking was imperative to get the players motivated again. I think, it all but naturalthatplayer do tend to loose some of their drive and hunger when there are no new challenges for them to overcome. Now with, Juande Ramos, all the players have a new challenge and that is , they have to prove their worth to the coach or else, warm the bench for good.
Schuster did not improve or expand on his strategies which he used to win us the title last season. He had the same tactics and the same game plan for this season which the opponents had learned to neutralize.
Starved of new ideas, Madrid eventually turned to the only thing they had left to get them out of trouble: true grit and determination.
Along came Juande Ramos, who was given with the task of driving the team out of their stagnant state.
Predrag Mijatovic, will be hoping that the more adventurous and attacking-minded ex-Sevilla coach will bring a fresh ideology to their game and a rejuvenated, positive mindset to take on the beast that is Barcelona.
Juande Ramos has not had the time to prepare for this clash which may be the deciding factor in the end but I am thinking that all Real Madrid players must bring out their game and all their experience, from their childhood inter school matches to matches played in La Liga with Real Madrid, into this game to save Real Madrid from a potentially, a titile ending defeat.
Here is the form guide for both the teams, if you must know.
Dec 09 Barcelona 2-3 Shakhtar Donetsk (CHAMPIONS LEAGUE)
Dec 06 Barcelona 4-0 Valencia (LA LIGA)
Nov 29 Sevilla 0-3 Barcelona (LA LIGA)
Nov 26 Sporting CP 2-5 Barcelona (CHAMPIONS LEAGUE)
Nov 23 Barcelona 1-1 Getafe (LA LIGA)
Dec 10 Real Madrid 3-0 Zenit St. Petersburg (CHAMPIONS LEAGUE)
Dec 07 Real Madrid 3-4 Sevilla (LA LIGA)
Nov 29 Getafe 3-1 Real Madrid (LA LIGA)
Nov 25 BATE Borisov 0-1 Real Madrid (CHAMPIONS LEAGUE)
Nov 22 Real Madrid 1-0 Recreativo Huelva (LA LIGA)
Real Madrid Team News
Arjen Robben and Marcelo will both be suspended, leaving a huge gap to fill down the left flank. Either Sergio Ramos or Míchel Salgado will be tasked to occupy the leftback role while Royston Drenthe, who has shaken off a minor knock he picked up in midweek training, will deputise in attack.
It will be interesting to see how Juande Ramos solves this puzzle. He doesn’t have a recognised left back and on top of that, the team we are facing in this match will have their best player (and argueably, the world’s best player) in the position.
That is certainlynotwhatJuandeRamoswantedtosee