When Real Madrid play Barcelona at Nou Camp on Sunday, the whole footballing world will come to halt. Yes AC Milan play Inter Milan on the same day but no rivalry can match that of the two Spanish Giants.
To say that these two teams are Spanish giants is an understatement. In an era dominated by Spanish football, these two teams have set the bench mark for other teams, specifically Barcelona in the last decade. Barcelona have won 3 Champions League trophies in the last 7 years, this itself shows their dominance in football. Real Madrid may not have won a Champions League since 2002, but other teams are still playing catch up with them who have 9 titles overall. Barcelona dominated the league over Madrid in the recent times when Pep Guardiola was in charge, but last year Madrid proved that they are still up to the task by winning the league title last year by amassing 100 points in the league. A feat they did not achieve even when the likes of Zidane, Raul, Ronaldo and Beckham were playing for them.
El Clasico in the recent years has changed from a derby match to a debate on “Who is the best player in the world Messi or Ronaldo?”
They are both players with immense talent and to argue on who is better is a pointless discussion. What people sometimes fail to realize is that there are other players in these teams who deserve credit for their performance. Take for example Iniesta and Xavi for Barcelona or Ozil and Casillas for Madrid. A team is not built around a single person.
These two teams have already met twice this season in the Spanish Super Cup. Barcelona won the first leg at home 3-2. Madrid won the second leg at home 2-1 and won the trophy on away goals basis. The one person who played in both matches who was partially responsible for the result was Victor Valdes, who made a very bad mistake to let Di Maria score in the first leg. Valdes will surely want to make up for that mistake.
Barcelona sit at the top of the table with 6 wins in 6 matches. Madrid got their league campaign off to a very poor start but recovered in time, but they still sit at 7th position and 8 points behind the league leaders. Some might say this match will eventually decide who will win the league this year, after all La Liga has turned out to be a two horse race in the recent years. If Madrid loses then Barcelona will have a 11 point lead and if Madrid wins then Barcelona will have a 5 point lead. Even then it will be too early to decide as teams like Atletico Madrid and Malaga are still undefeated in the league. Hopefully we will see more competition in the league this year.
Both teams go into the match in great form after assuring victories in their respective champions league matches.
Barcelona Team News:
Barcelona go into the match as crippled side with their formidable center backs out with injuries. Puyol dislocated his shoulder in the Champions League Match and Pique is highly unlikely to play. Their reserve team players might feature but we are going with make shift center backs Mascherano and Alex Song. The good news for Barcelona is that Villa seems to have recovered completely from his knee injury and is in fine touch.
The team Barcelona are likely to feature will be: Valdes, Dani Alves, Alex Song, Mascherano, Jordi Alba, Busquets, Fabregas, Iniesta, Pedro, Messi and Sanchez
On the bench will be: David Villa, Xavi, Chrstian Tello, Pinto, Adriano, Thiago and Martin Montoya.
Real Madrid Team News:
Jose Mourinho will have a head ache with team selection for the match, unlike his counterpart Vilanova Madrid have a fit team at present. The recent performances by the Brazilian Kaka will now cast shadows over whom to play. Kaka had a great return match against Ajax in the Champions League. The recent form of Mesut Ozil might be a thing to worry about for Mourinho but Modric is playing upto his reputation. The defensive half is likely to remain the same.
Madrid is likely to play this team: Cassillas, Arbeloa, Ramos, Pepe, Marcelo, Xabi Alonso, Khedira, Modric, Di Maria, Benzema and Ronaldo.
On the bench will be: Adan, Higuain, Kaka, Ozil, Varane, Coentrao and Callejon.
The two managers have a history in the 2011-12 season when Mourinho poked Vilanova’s eyes during the Spanish Super Cup brawl, back then Vilanova was assistant to Guardiola.
There are other issues which are casting some shadows over the match. There is a growing political debate within Spain over Catalonia’s desire for independence.
Barca, often seen as a symbol of the independence movement, are planning to turn the Nou Camp into a giant red and yellow Catalan flag but Vilanova, like his opposite number Jose Mourinho earlier in the day, refused to get drawn into the debate.
No matter what team both teams play, no matter what issues surround the match. No matter what history surrounds the two teams. El Clasico has always been a surprise package and thrill for the viewers. Let’s hope that this one is in the same lines.