Saturday, April 21, 2012

El Clasico 2012 Preview

So here we are again, the Clasico. These games, and those of the Champions League, sort out who the best team, using the purest definition of the word, is. 

It is true that both Barca and Madrid lost their games in mid week ties, and it is entirely possible that one or both of these teams will not make it through to the Champions League final. Credit must go to both Chelsea and Bayern Munich for humbling the two Spanish juggernauts. Well done. Let's see if you can do that consistently now for a few years, as have done both FC Barcelona and, to a lesser extent, Real Madrid.

Those CL games are essential pretext for the Clasico tonight. Madrid arrive at the Camp Nou thinking primarily about winning the league, which they are in a position of strength to do, and rubbing it in the Catalans' faces regardless of the result. Of course they desperately want to win the Clasico and put an end to Barca's supremacy over the past three years, but a draw would suffice. A draw would keep them 4 points in the clear. This Madrid side however, might be a bit tired. Virtually an A-team played in Munich, and they were made to work hard by a Bayern team who was really more motivated than Madrid to win this one.

Barca, too, come into this one tired (loosing in the pouring London rain after complexly dominating Chelsea must have been exhausting). Problem is, they absolutely have to win this one to maintain any hope of winning the title. They would like to win this one also to keep their legend alive - a legend that puts this particular Barca incarnation among the best soccer teams in all time history.

Both sets of players will no doubt shake off their fatigue or play through it tonight. Both squads look to be at or virtually at (David Villa is still out) full strength. Pep is bound to surprise us with his starting selection (Cuenca or Alexis?); Mourinho is bound to park the bus, and instruct his players to rough it up.

This is my second Clasico and I feel supremely lucky to witness it, regardless of the outcome. I'll be watching this one from just outside the Tribuna on the south western corner of the stadium. Photos to follow tomorrow. C'mon you Barca!

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