Sunday, 28 November 2010

Barcelona vs Real Madrid Preview

This coming Monday will see the first El Clasico of the season at the Camp Nou; more importantly it will be Jose Mourinho’s first visit as the Real Madrid manager. Last seasons corresponding fixtures resulted in wins for Barcelona which proved pivotal in deciding the title; the Catalan giants ending up lifting the league trophy for the 22 time by 3 points. This season both sides are already dominating and these games will have a crucial role in deciding the eventual winners.

The season is only 12 games old and Real Madrid are setting the early pace having dropped 4 points. Mourinho has already instilled his confidence and belief on a squad who have struggled domestically and in European competition over the last few years. Add to that players such as Carvalho, Di Maria, Khedira and Ozil and you have a very strong and technically gifted side. It is not a typical Mourinho side though; they are far more attacking and possess more flair players than he has had at previous clubs.

Madrid however are yet to face a real test domestically whilst a win and an away draw against Milan suggest that Los Blancos are ready to compete again in Europe. This game will come as a real test of the squad and will provide an insight into how their season may develop.

Barcelona meanwhile lie 1 point behind but have won the last 5 Clasicos which should certainly give them a mental edge; although Mourinho wasn’t present for any of these. The Catalan giants have had a steady start to the season but have become a little too reliant on Messi’s goals. The wonderful Argentine is currently the best player in the World and an integral part of Barcelona’s hopes for the remainder of the season.

The real problem Guardiola is facing this season is maintaining Xavi. Most of the top Spanish players have not had a significant period of time off for 3 years; European Championships, the Confederations Cup and the World Cup. Barcelona currently have 7 players who started in the World Cup final last summer and this is starting to take its toll. Xavi Hernandez pulls the strings and makes Barcelona tick, his incredible range of passing separates his from any other midfielder in the world and his pass success rate is astonishing.

Whatever the outcome of this game the title cannot be won in November, but it can be lost. Neither side can afford to lose the game but I do not expect a negative game; Barca only know one way to play at home and Madrid are a new beast under Mourinho. Let us hope the game lives up to the hype.

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