Barcelona vs. Real Madrid – Preview
The Spanish Superclásico is nearing kickoff and this is one of the most anticipated Superclásicos in recent memory. The match at the Camp Nou features the most potent offensive team in Europe against a side in the midst of a run of undesirable results. Currently, Barcelona sit in 1st place 9 points ahead of 6th place Real Madrid in the La Liga standings. Looking at form alone, all signs point to Barca winning at home comfortably BUT this is one of the Top 10 rivalries in all of sports so Barca fans need to withhold any trash talking until the final result.
Its time to breakdown the teams and see who has the advantage.
Real Madrid has arguably the best keeper in the world in Iker Casillas whose reflexes are catlike. He also has the mind and experience not to make the mistakes that cost his team the game or make himself look bad. Barcelona’s Victor Valdes is also highly athletic and his decision making has improved but he is still prone to the occasional WTF!.
Advantage: Real Madrid.
It looks like Barcelona will probably start: Dani Alves on the right, Abidal on the left with Rafa Marquez & Puyol in the middle. Guardiola chose experience in selecting Marquez over Pique or Caceres. Marquez has shown a tendency to make costly mistakes and could be the weak link in Barca’s backline, thankfully Puyol is there to clean up any mistakes. Real Madrid looks to start: Michel Salgado on the right, Sergio Ramos on the left with Cannavaro & Metzelder in the middle. The Real defense was the main reason Bernd Schuster got fired. Metzelder does not yet have the experience and Salgado is a liability on the right. Ramos does not get back fast enough after making an attacking run and combined they do not have the pace of Abidal and Dani Alves. Cannavaro is a rock but he can’t defend Barca’s attack by himself. Barca 9 goals allowed, Real 24 goals allowed.
Real Madrid will probably look to 3 midfielders with Van der Vaart & Guti on the sides with Gago holding down the middle. This midfield trio is soft in their defensive markings, Gago is supposed to be the hard man in the midfield but he hasn’t been as such. Van der Vaart & Guti are fine passers but are poor ball winners and that’s important against a Barca side that dominates possession. Barca will also look to 3 midfielders probably Keita & Xavi surrounding Yaya Toure. In contrast to Real, Barca has 2 ball hawking midfielders in Keita & Yaya Toure and arguably Barca’s best player and the best box to box midfielder on the planet in Xavi. Add to that, Barca’s trio have a speed and aggression advantage over Real’s trio.
What can you say about Barca’s Big 3 of Eto’o, Messi, and Henry that hasn’t already been said? They spearhead the best goal scoring attack in Spain. All three are explosive, skilled, and fearless on 1 vs. 1 matchups and have learned to play well together. Real will most likely start Drenthe on the left, Raul in the middle, and Higuain on the right. Higuain has been the goal scoring savior for Real especially after RVN went down a season ending injury. Drenthe has yet to score this year in La Liga and Raul is not great but solid. Here’s a stat: Barca’s Big 3 have a combined 30 goals in La Liga, Real as a total squad have 33.
If you look strictly at the coaching records then its clear that Juande Ramos has an edge over Pep Guardiola but this is a totally different animal. Ramos has been with his team for about a week while Guardiola has been with his team for months. Ramos has 1 game under his belt with his new team while Guardiola has got a whole preseason and 20+ this season under his belt. Guardiola knows his Barca squad better than Ramos knows his Real squad. On the flipside, who knows what effect Ramos will have on his team coming into this game and that is the unknown. He could ignite a team against their biggest rival to stun the Catalans. Guardiola is very cautious because he knows that these games often come down to effort & grit more than form & talent and its tough to ignore Juande’s success in Spain.
Advantage: slightly to Real Madrid
The game is at the Camp Nou which a massive advantage for the Blaugrana. Take a look at form coming into the game and there is no doubt that Barca has the advantage. Analyze the position by position talent and Barca has the advantage but it seems too lopsided in Barca’s favor and that is a worry coming into a rivalry game. Everything is lined up for a mild upset. That said, last year Real swept Barca by an aggregate of 5-1 including a 1-0 victory at the Camp Nou. The Barca players from last year remember that and will channel those emotions to display their power.
Juande Ramos’ influence on the team will not be enough to stop the firepower of Barca’s Big 3 and balanced squad. Real will keep it close but late goals will put smiles on the faces of the Catalan faithful.
Score: FC Barcelona 3 – 1 Real Madrid CF.