On Sunday, Cristiano Ronaldo scored 3 v Getafe at midday. Hours later, Leo Messi went one better, scoring a quartet of goals against Osasuna in a 5-1 win. With 7 goals between them, this has set up one of the most exhilarating Clasicos of all time.
Real Madrid have taken the CDR seriously especially after their dismal start to the Spanish League campaign. This represents one of the two remaining chances to win something worthwhile this season.
Form is on both sides at the moment. Even with the absence of Tito Vilanova (who’s away in the States for his cancer treatment), the Blaugrana have qualified for the semi-finals of the Copa Del Rey and stretched their lead at the top of La Liga to 11 points after closest rivals, Atletico were bashed by Bilbao at San Mames.
The ‘whites’ of Real Madrid haven’t been far behind their nearest rivals form-wise. They earned a good draw v Valencia at the Mestalla to set up the first Clasico of 2013. Then on Saturday, they put four past neighbours, Getafe in match that only sprang to life in the 2nd half.
The introduction of in-form Germany international, Sami Khedira was the catalyst behind their resurgence. Today will be a different ball game. The Merengues are without Captain and NO 1, Iker Casillas (whose 41 Clasico appearances is second to none), defensive rocks, Sergio Ramos and Pepe, Fabio Coentrao and Di Maria, both of whom are suspended after their dismissals in Valencia.
In fairness, Pepe and Sergio Ramos haven’t been missed. In their absence, the capital club have conceded just 1 goal in their last 6 games (although Ramos came back at the weekend). Raul Albiol, Raphael Varane and outcast, Ricardo Caravalho have all come in and done fantastic ever since. Up front, CR7 is a man inspired.
After losing the BALON D’oR to Messi, he has scored for fun ever since and his 10 this month is the highest total of any footballer in Europe’s top 5 Leagues. Even EL Pulga (Messi) is behind, not far though, with 9.
The constant headache since Pipita’s return from injury is who to start between him and Benzema. Mourinho alternates between both world class competitors match after match. Luka Modric hasn’t exactly accustomed himself to the playing style of the Blancos, but he is immensely talented and has shown that in spurts this term.
Xabi Alonso gives his awesome best when called upon every time and will be expected to lead the team to victory in the absence of San Iker and Sergio Ramos. A certain German playmaker, Mesut Ozil has come in leaps and bounds throughout his exceptional Madrid Career and is the player who has given the most assists to Cristiano in his career.
Ricardo Kaka has never been on Mourinho’s good books and his frequent omission from recent team sheets is a concern to the 07 World Footballer of the Year. On a good day, he is still one of the best footballers in the world and has shown that many a time.
Barcelona are not the best team in the world for nothing. They sit a mammoth 15 points ahead of Real Madrid in the La Liga standings, have qualified for the CDR semis and have lost only one of their 21 League games this season. A game they led by 2 goals until Chori Castro and co ruined the party.
In EL MESSIAS, they have the best player of the last four years and his 44 goals this season has been more astounding than Montpellier’s Ligue 1 triumph last season. 33 league goals in 21 games is a staggering stat. 12 ahead of CR7 who is about the only footballer that can compete with the magic he possesses.
As if this isn’t enough worry. Andres Iniesta, who’s undisputedly the 3rd best player in the world, has improved tremendously in the last 5 months, giving assists like they are going extinct. 33 year old Xavi has performed really well also and the triumvirate are wonderfully armed to the teeth.
Pedro Rodriguez is also in superb form and has cleared any doubts that exist about his rise. Alexis Sanchez has deteriorated to an irritating and indecisive footballer and this hasn’t gone down well with fans who responded positively to his purchase two years ago.
David ‘EL GUAJE’ Villa is in a happy mood. The birth of his son Luca should motivate him to put on a show this evening at the Bernabeu. Gerard Pique is also a happy father and will be called upon to help out in the defence. The task of stopping CR7 will be a herculean one though, but not impossible.
Jose Mourinho will be hoping that Real Madrid’s recent good form v Barcelona continues tonight. The ‘Super Coppa’ earlier this season proved that the WHITES can match the Catalan giants in all areas of the pitch. The Portuguese great who turned 50 on Saturday will love a belated birthday present especially against a team he hasn’t had so much to smile about in his phenomenal career to date.
Football god, Messi will be hoping to break Alfredo Di Stefano’s record haul of 18 goals in Clasico meetings. With 2 goals tonight, the Argentine skipper will be the new record holder with 19. He has never scored a CDR goal against Real Madrid, but he has tormented them in other competitions.
His arch rival, Cristiano Ronaldo will be hoping to extend his record of scoring in consecutive Clasicos which currently stands at 6 and also go further up the table in the list of all time Clasico goal scorers (He has 10).
Today has the makings of greatness and rest assured, we won’t have anything short of what we are expecting.
In 221 meetings between the pair, the hosts have 88 wins to Barca’s 87. The other 46 ending in draws. Their last meeting three months ago ended in an entertaining 2-2 draw at the Camp Nou with talismen, Ronaldo and Messi grabbing 2 apiece. THIS IS WAR.
PROBABLE STARTING LINEUPS:
REAL MADRID: Diego Lopez, Arbeloa/Essien, Albiol, Varane, Marcelo, Khedira, Alonso, Modric, Ozil, CR7, Benz
BARCELONA: Pinto, Dani Alves, Pique, Mascherano/Puyol, Alba/Adriano, Busquets, Xavi, Fabregas, Iniesta, Messi, Pedro
Written by Ohireime Eboreime
Follow him on Twitter @ohiskaka1990
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