Spanish Super Cup 2012: Mourinho's commandments

There is no special plan as such for the match at the Camp Nou, but the team will be expected to fulfil five "must-do", commandments if you will. Recent clashes between Real Madrid and Barcelona have demonstrated that Mourinho's strategy has borne fruit, allowing 'Whites' to win the Spanish Cup and last season's league championship. Mourinho is more convinced than ever that these five commandments are the key to success at the Camp Nou.

Jose Mourinho

Besides demanding his team plays with maximum intensity and at a high pace, there are a number of methods he has devised to thwart the threat of an opponent Madrid knows all too well.

Keeping a high line. Pepe's injury is the biggest spanner in the works. With Pepe in the team, the plan was to push the defensive line up as close to the midfield as possible, compressing the pitch and catching Barcelona in the offside trap. Albiol is a different type of centre-back. He is less mobile than Pepe and less accustomed to playing in a high defensive line against an opposition that specialises in creating spaces going forward.

Flooding the midfield. With Pepe out, the rearguard needs extra protection, and one way of doing this is flooding the midfield. The players in the centre of the park will be asked to play as close together as possible. We can't rule out the possibility of Xabi Alonso, Lass and Khedira lining up to form a defensive midfield trio, or a "high-pressure triangle", as Mourinho likes to call it. The idea is to limit the space available and pressure the opposition into making mistakes. Once the team wins the ball back, it will be looking to launch immediate counterattacks. In the last league meeting between the two, in which Madrid ran out 2-1 winners, the pressuring carried out across the pitch was vital in unsettling and neutralising Barça and stifling their talent. As the Madrid players say, "you have to work for each other".

Isolating Messi. The aim of this system is to double up to stop Messi getting the ball and, when he does so, for him to be isolated, unable to turn or link up with his teammates. The idea is to cut Messi off, as the Argentine is the fulcrum of Barcelona's attacking play and can open teams up with his changes of pace and decisive passing. Messi is in top form, as he proved against Real Sociedad, scoring a brace and slicing through the opposition backline on several occasions. Mourinho is aiming to block off his supply. When Madrid loses the ball, its players will have to show anticipation in order to pressure effectively.

Dealing better with the aerial threat. Set pieces and aerial balls are Real Madrid's Achilles heel. This bête noire reared its head once again on Sunday against Valencia, when Jonas headed in a free-kick taken by Tino Costa. Against Real Sociedad, meanwhile, Barcelona scored yet again from a corner following its usual routine, with Puyol the target for Xavi's deliveries. Madrid ought to be a tall enough team to deal with these set plays.

Making the most of free spaces and chances. Playing a high line, flooding the midfield and applying intense pressure off the ball all aim to help Real Madrid create chances. Mourinho and his team know that they need to get a positive result at the Camp Nou, and this means scoring. Barcelona does leave spaces on the pitch and these must be exploited to the maximum.


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