Meetings between Pep and Mourinho have always been explosive and tonight’s encounter is not an exception in any right. Guardiola has faced Real Madrid in 12 occasions coming out victorious on 8 occasions, just loosing once which was in the Copa Del Roy final and the rest draws. Mourinho has since emerged over the last few years as Barcelona’s most hated figure. Matches between Barcelona and a Mourinho led team have are always interpreted as a battle between the good (Barcelona) and the bad (Mourinho).
Enough of Pep and Mourinho, the players are the main center of attention for any football lover. You bet Barcelona to pass around the ball and Real Madrid to do all the chasing. The class of both players allow for the least of mistakes, actually in my view no mistake is allowed. Real is expected to soak the pressure, allow the Barca players to come off the defense and hit them on the counter, a tactic Mour has used over the years to beat Barca, especially for those who can remember the famous 3-1 with Inter. The two big men, Messi and Christiano will be the centre of attention tonight again. Messi has always had an upper hand over Christiano in the Classico’s but each Classico brings with it something special. My bet tonight is no different; a goal for each will be fair.
Straight to the game; this is what you should expect tonight
1. Real Madrid to press forward really hard in the first 2 minutes
Mourinho’s tactics have always been to catch a team in the first two minutes when they have not settled into the game, He did it in the last classic of 2011 and bore fruit when Benzema made it one nil after just only 30 seconds. Tonight, he will want to kill off the game as fast as he can, so as to defend, what he does best. Should he get two goals in the first ten, twenty minutes, his style will change to a more defensive one and just once in a while threaten to attack.
2. MESSI will have PEPE booked
Messi is a dangerous player by all standards. The Catalans are lucky to have to have a player of his caliber in their ranks. He has been the difference in most Barcelona games against other teams including even Real Madrid. PEPE has always been given the task of marking this little devil and with his dangerous runs, most probably, he’ll have PEPE booked. The temperamental Portuguese is a non-nonsense figure in that backline or midfield depending on where Mour plays him tonight and won’t allow the Argentinian to pass him on any occasion knowing the damage he can do. On a 1 to 10 scale even a Red Card cannot be ruled out.
3. Lots of Play Acting
I do not hate on any tem, but what makes me love and Hate Barcelona at times is the way the players play act when at times not even caught in a tackle. Unnecessary cards have been dished out in these games as a result of how the Barca players behave. I now come to understand the frustration of the Real Madrid players when they win the ball fairly and a Barcelona player got to the ground clutching their feet. The Barcelona bench led by their fan-in-chief Pinto, leading the protests.
4. Manuel Pinto to concede a goal before Iker Casillas
I’m left wondering why Pep Guardiola has to choose Pinto in a game of this importance. Pinto is not a regular at the post but his defense gives him the confidence going into this game. When Madrid registered their one and only win under Mourinho it was Manuel Pinto between the posts whereas Mour has always used Iker in all Classico’s. The Madrid front line has real firepower and maybe Valdes would have been a safer option. The form Christiano, Higuan, Di Maria , Callejon and company are in now, would surely beat the ageing Pinto.
5. Issac Cuenca or Callejon to make appearances from the Bench depending on the score line.
Both the players are young talents Barca and Real have in their benches respectively and have shown great talent in recent times. Callejon recently came off the bench to get a last minute goal against Mallorca who had lest for most part of the game. Issac Cuenca on the other hand has been subject of speculation in recent times having been not able to sign a contract extension at Barcelona, tonight might be his chance to prove to Pep why he deserves to get a new and better contract.
At the end of the 90 minutes, fans all over the world will either leave very satisfied or very disappointed depending on what side of the tie they were supporting. For Real Madrid, it would be the perfect chance to avenge for the league defeat they suffered at home, for Barca a win would mean they have an upper hand heading to the return Leg at Camp Nou. Mourinho is a coach I know hates loosing and as the self-professed ‘Special One’, a special night would only mean a win against his former employers turned foes. Pep always acts the gentleman, he knows that in sport there are no precedent, it just matters what you do at the time. And surely for what both will do tonight, I wish them the best and nothing but the very best.