If there is a derby any football fan looks forward to, then it must be this, when the two best teams in the world face off. The intrigues off and on the pitch, the political rivalry involved, the history between the two, the class both boast of is what makes the tie even further exciting. From a neutral sportsman view, each game between the two regardless of the result of the previous encounter, fuels a hope, a hope that suggests that despite the result of the last tie, this would be different, and true to my word, they probably never disappoint.
Last week’s first leg was as explosive as ever; tonight’s match will thus be more explosive (someone please dial 911). Madrid will be seeking to overturn a result at Camp Nou, whereas Barcelona will want to continue their fine run of form that saw them demolish Malaga away in the League last weekend. Mourinho is expected to attack from the onset whereas Barcelona known by their style of play, will probably do the same, have lots of possession and probably hit the Madrid defense severally. 90,000 screaming fans, one ball, 22 men, players who’ve played here probably know how intimidating a crowd it is.
Madrid’s attack will once again be on the spotlight tonight. Led by Christiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuain, the Madrid faithful, expect at least a goal from each. Last time out Ronaldo scored and should he continue that tonight and maybe set up another one, an unlikely win for Mour could be on the offing. Lassana Diarra, Mourinho’s man for these type of games should start and the Villain Pepe, who every fair football fan should hate by now is expected to start too. Lots will be watched of how he will carry himself amidst the boos of the crowd. Should Di Maria pass a late fitness test, then the Wings will be a headache for Barcelona to maintain and at the same time maintain their free flowing football. Tackles is the name of the game, each and every team managed by Mourinho is expected to have hard tacklers, what Real should watch out for then is the card ratio and the discipline of the team.
Barcelona never look to defend even when they have an advantage, what they do best is to make the advantage count for them. Some people have suggested that Pep might tonight go for a defensive approach, but I say to you, should he try that, he’ll terribly fail and Mourinho will leave the Camp Nou smiling, since he’s the master of defensive football. Messi tonight might be the difference again, he shines in big games and should his fine form continue, even a career 11th hatrick might be in the offing. Discipline has been an integral part of Pep’s team, but once in a while when they trail at home, thay have failed to maintain cool heads and this is something that might cost them should Real Madrid lead by at least two goals at any time of the game. Cesc should start tonight alongside Sanchez, Pinto should be in between the posts and a win for Barcelona wont shock the world, but would be a morale booster having in mind, they trail their rival by 5 points in the league.
Barcelona’s defense will have to be tight throughout the game tonight, is there a possibility of this without negative football, my mind says, YES, my hearts thinks, NO. Some ideas are verities rather than simple suggestions and the idea of Barcelona playing a negative style is plainfully justifiable. On the other hand, Madrid will have to cope with the fact that so far, they have been second best and being aggressive to try to prove critics’ wrong wont score. Cool heads, keeping the Barca attack at bay and hit on the counter, an art they have now mastered and scoring at every opportunity they get should at least give them a penalty shootout and a dramatic win. Lastly should Barcelona win, the world won’t be surprised, should Real knockout Barcelona(fairly by all standards), all papers, should dedicate a page to Mourinho, his team and the Madrid faithful, a dream I might probably not live to see.