The great day is upon us. Much has been made about this one simply because it is the title decider. Much should be made of it. Draw or lose and Barça has lost its shot at the league title. Win and there’s a fighting chance to take a 10 point deficit and drown it in the jubilation of a trophy. Guardiola knows this and Mourinho absolutely knows this. Both are consummate winners, both can see exactly how this could pan out.
The players will be ready in a few hours time, walking out onto the field to the blaring himno and the screams of thousands of adoring and simultaneously hateful fans. This is morbo, this is where Pepe jokes and men on their knees before altars to Messi come to rest at the end of a weary season. This is el clásico and this is why we play the game.
It might be a tremendously foul-tempered match or it might be a breathtaking reminder of why we’re all so in love with this sport. It might be foul after foul or it might be zig after mazy zag through defender’s legs. It’s likely to be both. It’s likely to thrill us and make us tear our hair out. We’ll scream and high five friends and strangers, we’ll curse the mother’s of men we’ve never met, and we’ll take to the streets of the internet win or lose to vent our delirious joy or uncompromising rage. This is where we are fans without perspective, following the cult of football of the cliff into oblivion. And doing so willingly.
Say it out loud. Let the words remind you that there is meaning here even if it’s short-lived, even if it’s just soccer, you weirdo. It’s just 22 men playing on a field, for chrissake. Perhaps they’re even doing it in a foreign country, maybe speaking a language you do not. It’s just a spherical, inflated pig’s bladder being kicked by overgrown children. It’s just thousands of mindless people screeching at each other. It’s just a game being played out in front of millions. It’s just heart stopping action for 90 minutes, plus travel time and pre-match drinks. It’s just el clásico.
Official Prediction: 2-1, goals by Messi and Xavi.