Real Madrid-FC Barcelona, again, till it drive you crazyBy: Ramzi | April 26th, 2011
A preview about Real Madrid Vs FC Barcelona is not an easy challenge.
You don’t need to create excitement through the preview, as it is…the clasico!
You cant create a terrifying preview because in such a game everyone -both clubs- are usually too tensed for their hearts to handle more threatening statements.
We are suffering the clasico overdose symptoms and many fans are living in denial already, waiting this stream of flames to end for better or worse.
I started this preview talking about all the silliness we read/ heard/watched this week after losing the cup. I ended up ranting about football reality in a post I recommend that you read. So lets go directly to the match, what can we expect?
Mourinho alternatives are swinging between two ideas, the first is to put pressure on Barcelona’s defense, playing the lines high and geting advantage of all the changes in Barca’s lineup before the players settle to their roles. An early goal will give him a full control to manage the rest of the game and plan for the second leg.
But the 5-0 didn’t fade away yet, and he will think twice before playing an open game, especially that patience and conservative approach proved more successful in the cup final.
Another factor is that the second leg will be played at the Camp nou. Pep will be able to rest players in the liga match and some injured players will be ready to play. So there is no better time for Real Madrid to play Barcelona than now. Mourinho is aware that the match tomorrow will be like a final for Real Madrid, and a first half for Barcelona. He needs the result more.
All that combined may lead Mourinho to hold the stick from the middle. His lineup was already working during the season as two folds, and we may see it more obvious in this game where he defend deep and conservative, counting on five or six players always at the back when they lose possession, while offering his offense players the chance to put aggressive pressure higher on the field to disturb Barcelona’s buildup. If the initial pressure failed, the mentioned players track back and help the zonal defense.
While attacking, Real Madrid have no reason to change the offense strategy they applied during the cup (first half), though Adebayor may start this one to add another dimension to his club’s offense and expose another weakness in Barcelona’s defense. Another advantage of having him in the front line is his ability to hold on ball offering a chance for his teammates to switch the defense/Offense gear.
I can see Pepe and Xabi synchronizing their roles in this game rather than having standard functionality like previous matches, unless if the absence of Carvalho forced Mourinho to withdraw Pepe back to the defense line.
Structuring the best selection for the game is a very tricky challenge for Guardiola after all the injury crisis in the squad. The most predictable selection so far is:
Valdes, Alves, Puyol, Pique, Mascherano, Busquets, Keita, Xavi, Messi, Villa, Pedro
But don’t exclude any crazy surprises like having Pedro as a left back for example, or Keita. Regardless of the names, we will probably end up with three center backs (Puyol-Pique-Mascherano), Busquets as a holding midfielder assisted by Keita to his left and Alves to his right both contributing in offense (Keita more conservative).
The Absence of Iniesta means more Messi in the midfield. But Pep may ask Villa to play behind Messi- closer to Xavi – with both Pedro and Alves stretching the field on the flanks. I think it is important for Barcelona to attack through the left flank. If Ronaldo played as a right wing (to benefet from the lack of natural left back for Barcelona), attacking Sergio Ramos flank will either force Ronaldo to track back and help in defense or expose that flank for Pedro-Keita-Villa combinations assisted by Messi’s movement and Xavi’s passes.
Mascherano must always play on Ronaldo’s flank. If Ronaldo plays as a right wing, Mascherano has to be the left center back (out of three) for Barcelona. When Ronaldo move to the opposite flank, Mascherano moves with him.
/Flash news!! Just now…Pep is running after Mourinho, waving a metal pan in his hand!/ What an interview by Pep:D
It is important for Xavi to check Xabi when Barcelona lose possession, and it is more important for Busquets NOT to play as chaotic as he played in the last League match.
For offense, the players need to help Messi more. Pedro and Villa are not getting advantage of all the gaps Messi creates by movement. Patience is important as well, the more we keep the ball, the better. Time runs for Barcelona’s favor in this game.
Forget about the “Favorite” debate, in the clasico there is no favorite. Never been. Never will. We have to play the game our way. Playing against Real Madrid a dozen game is difficult, especially for the team that is supposed to create the play. But we don’t know another way to play this game so lets bet on the proven method we know.