Spanish Supercopa Preview: Ready Or Not, Here Comes The (First) Clásico (Of Many)!By: Ade C. | August 22nd, 2012
First Clásico of the season already? Isn’t too early for this? We’ve barely recovered from the hangover after all those Clásicos last season, and here we are again: Clásico tomorrow, mini-Clásico on Sunday (Real Madrid Castilla and Barça B meet in Segunda), and then Clásico again next week for the return leg of this suddenly all-important (not really) trophy.
Can you say Clásico indigestion? Yes you can, but it doesn’t matter, because we have iron stomachs and endless patience. We also have lots of wonderful players who are mostly fit, and entirely eager to play, so this could actually be… *lowers voice to a whisper*… a good Clásico.
Frankly, it’s too hot in Spain and we have far too many other things to worry about, so the press hasn’t had the time or inclination to brew a shitstorm around this Clásico like it did around the ones happening last season. After the Spain internationals got together to win the Euros this summer, one would suppose they are less inclined to throttle each other over each minor fouls, and, finally, Pepe is out of this match after a scary collision with Casillas in Real Madrid’s 1-1 draw with Valencia this weekend and having to spend a night in hospital.
So, it’s just possible that this Clásico might end without bloodshed.
It’s not like us to be optimistic, in spite of what the previous couple of posts might have led you to believe, but the unusual feeling of having a deep enough squad that we don’t have to raid Barça B for warm bodies to fill the bench is heady… and makes the job of choosing a starting XI that much harder.
We have three fully-established CBs (since Piqué seems to have rediscovered his focus, and Puyol keeps drinking from the Fountain of Youth every morning) plus two young’uns who only need some experience and confidence. We have two world-class fullbacks and a good understudy for each. We have possibly the best DM in the world, a pretty pricey sub who’ll be wanting to prove himself, and a talent from the youth team. We have four midfielders who are so ridiculously talented that the thought of benching even one of them is enough to make strong men weep. And five quick, strong, goal-hungry individuals ready to assist and be assisted by the one and only Leo Messi.
It almost feels like a different team from the exhausted ragtag bunch who got through the dregs of last season out of sheer bloodymindedness.
Since Tito seems to favour the traditional 4-3-3 so far, and there’s something about the zen calm of his black polo shirts that don’t suggest he’ll spring the surprises that Pep used to spring on us, we’ll go with that too for our prediction:
Both Piqué and Puyol seem to be healthy and focused (and the Football Gods know that Puyol helps Piqué focus), so Monster Masche might get a little rest, with view of being his usual awesome self at the weekend. Xavi and Iniesta surely won’t want to miss a Clásico, even if it’s a pseudo-friendly one. And up forwards, Alexis is well rested and surely Tello earned brownie points after all those cool assists this weekend. The likes of Cesc, Villa and Song can come in during the second half, if things go well.
As for Real Madrid, they have their usually bottomless bench (even without the addition of Modric… yet), with the exception of Pepe, who is sitting this one out after the weekend scare and leaving his place to Albiol; that might be a weakness that Messi & Co can exploit. Everywhere else, expect the same team we faced a billion times last season, since for once Uncle Flo has been having a summer without a shopping spree: the likes of Xabi Alonso, Higuaín and of course, CRon, will never make life easy for Barça.
Still, I’m cautiously optimistic. We’ll be playing at home, with the high of the excellent win against Real Sociedad to raise morale, and with very little pressure (it’s a semi-friendly trophy at the start of the season, with a new coach, and everyone is expecting us to stumble at some point). It’ll be a good test, besides, for the real challenges that are on the way (Valencia in La Liga, to mention but one).
For once, I’m going to try and enjoy a Clásico, as foreign as the concept might sound after what we’ve gone through in the last couple of seasons. I’ll be hoping for a positive yet not jaw-dropping scoreline (2-1 or 3-2, because our defence still needs some fine-tuning), no injuries, and some gentlemany behaviour between the two sides… oh well, two out of three won’t be that bad.
For better (and funnier) predictions, see Fcbfandrivel’s insightful post here!