Of those Real Madrid players that suffered the 5-0 almost 23 months ago, today ten may be again in the starting line-up, if Özil plays as playmaker. Carvalho is the only one who has lost the place. In the Barcelona team, most likely, is that seven players will repeat in the starting team. Pique and Villa would not start the match because although they are ready to play they have no competition pace. In addition Abidal and Puyol are out due to injuries. That is, the base of the defense and the forward are out.
The memory of that game, not so distant, offers the first analysis. Barcelona is weakened in what the coaches call 'security corridor' and with those important players out of the match, it has a weakness in relation to Real Madrid. Vilanova has no confident alternatives and has not wanted to have them. Instead of signing a central defender and a striker (pressing needs), Tito wanted Song and Jordi Alba. The result is that today Barcelona will face a team with more punch with two defensive midfielders like Song and Mascherano, one slow and one small.
It is true that Barcelona is leading the league with a perfect record (some wins with controversy), but what is concealed against other rivals, will be impossible to hide against an enemy as powerful as Real Madrid. Another team with eight points gap and with problems in the defensive line would consider an emergency solution, perhaps a more conservative tactic, maybe a match with counter-attacks. However, we know that Barcelona appreciates its philosophy over surviving.
Messi's new position is also something important. The genius has moved backwards in the field to shake a football play that has become predictable. And this is why is so important the Cesc's role as complicit, as midfielder with scoring power. It's as if Messi had ceased to be the protagonist of the films to be director. The common good above the good of himself, and the film above the Oscars.
For Real Madrid (white team traveled today to Barcelona), the match looks different. The Classic comes when it seems to have regained a good shape and memory. The discussion Kaka or Modric is a floral game. The important thing is that the team has returned to its overwhelming version (coinciding with the best version of Cristiano Ronaldo) and we should not forget that his best games at the Camp Nou have been in emergency situations. Providing spaces to a team like Real Madrid is a suicide mission, unless Barcelona may take the control of the ball. Barcelona did it in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup and today is faced with the same challenge. Much of the Spanish League title is at stake, also the mood of the fans, probably the Golden Ball. We'll see.
Expected Starting Line-up
- Barcelona: Valdes, Alves, Song, Mascherano, Adriano, Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta, Pedro, Messi, Alexis.
- Real Madrid: Casillas, Arbeloa, Pepe, Ramos, Marcelo, Xabi Alonso, Khedira, Di Maria, Cristiano Ronaldo, Özil, Higuaín.