M*drid – Barça Preview, as a matter of clásico

In the tradition of great Dutch masters before him, this not-so-great Dutch not-even-a-master will attempt to draw a journalistic self-portrait, or uhhmmm… an emotional sketch of a culé the day before, if you will, a Q & A between him and himself.


Hi, nice to meet you. You look great today, as always!

Yeah, yeah, stop flattering me. Everybody knows that already. Let’s get this thing started.

Great. So uhmm… this Copa del Rey thing… Who’s your daddy?

Ha! With twenty-six Cups in our trophy cabinet F.C. Barcelona are the record title holder, followed closely by Athletic Club de Bilbao who have twenty-three. How ironic that it should be the Catalans and Basques who excell at a tournament that honors the King of Spain!

Wow, yeah I guess it is! So this Cup is a big deal, right?

Rrrrrright. Not really. The League and the CL are way more important.

What? You don’t care about the Copa?

Mmmm…. the answer is probably somewhere in between too much and not enough. I care, and I don’t care. There are an x-amount of scenarios that affect how much I do or don’t and a y-amount of reasons I don’t wanna get into that right now. So there!

Ok, sorry I asked. No wait, you know what man, f___ you, I’m not sorry. Do you care or not?

Ok, ok, ok, I care, calm down, no need to get all up in my grill like that. God, what bonehead editor let you do interviews on this site, man? I care, all right? Or, no, wait, I don’t care! I mean I do! I mean I don’t know, really, I really don’t know. I just want us to win big shiny things, ok? And I hate losing, but if we do get knocked out of the Copa it’s not as if I’m left with that sinking feeling in my stomach for weeks on end like when we lost to Chelsea in the CL semis. Nor does winning it make up for losing the ones we really want.

Why thank you for answering my question. So I guess tomorrow’s game doesn’t really matter then?

(the interviewee grabs a mirror to give the interviewer a long, hard stare)…

Of course it does, it’s a clásico. When the hordes of Mordor are knocking on the Elven gates, does it matter? On whichever battlefield you tread, an orc is still an orc.

Uh, that’s a bit strong, isn’t it?

We must crush them, kill them, smash them, tear them up, rip them to pieces, suffocate them, bash their brains in, stain their pristine white little shirts with the bloo…

Slow down, take it easy. Jeeeez, and I thought I was the crazy one. Take a deep breath. It’s gonna be ok!

(takes a deep breath)

Wow. This really works. It’s like one of those self-help websites. Ok, I see now how to the uninitiated reader it might appear that I got just a little bit carried away. All I meant to say is, yes, it matters. We can get knocked out of the Copa, but not by them.

Why not?

Well, for one, when things go well at Barça they go unwell at M*drid. And vice-versa. Things never go well here AND there. We are Ying and Yang, Tom and Jerry, Django and the Ku Klux Klan. Things can’t go well for both parties at the same time.

Come on… Isn’t that a litt…

Shut up, I’m talking here. If we lose, not only do we lose, but they win. And when things go well for them, they tend to go wrong for us. So yes, in the middle of the season, I would say that this Cup tie matters a whole lot more than some might think.

Can you give us an example?

Sure. Last season is the perfect example. We lost the league during the second leg of the Copa del Rey against M*drid. I have no doubt.

Huh? But didn’t we win the Copa?

Yeah, we drew the game 2-2 and we won the tie, but we lost the league in that game. That season we beat them in the Supercopa and in the league at the Bernabeu. For the first cup leg we went back to their house and embarrassed them. They hardly got out of their half of the pitch. Mourinho and his team were on the ropes. Their city was in full-on crisis mode. Their newspapers were crying shame and disgrace. Di Stefano said they played like a mouse. They were one blaugrana embarrassment away from having their trainer kicked to the curb, which at that point would have caused their season to unravel. No doubt, man, they were done for.

Right… But that’s not what happened, was it?

(starts choking up)

They came to the Camp Nou. And with a bit of luck on our part we went into halftime up by 2-0. But then we let them get back into the game. They might have ended up losing the tie, but they left the moral winners. Their resolve was strengthened and they won the league with a record total of points. So clásicos matter, ok?

I get it. So what do you think will happen tomorrow?

Hey, I don’t know. I don’t do predictions, you should ask that Isaiah dude whenever he’s not too busy to write previews.  I do know that I was nervous as hell when we last met, you know, when we were missing half of our defense and all. And after the game we all said “well, let’s see how they do when they miss half of their defense”. Well, now they do. Plus their goalkeeper. And that ratface Di Maria. But that doesn’t mean squat to me. They might be even more dangerous like this. They got nothing to lose. An injured cat fights like a lion.

I see. Well, thanks for the interview, I really enjoyed that. We should hang out more!

Definitely. You should come over tomorrow so we can watch the game together!

By Levon

Culé since way before football boots were of the neon yellow and lizard green variety, Levon is a deep thinker with increasingly shallow thoughts. He lives in Barcelona with his gorgeous wife and daughter. The lucky bastard...


  1. ooooooooohhhhhhhhhh shinyyyyyyy!!!!
    Sorry I just couldn’t resist. The ADHD kid in me wanted out 😉
    I must say that I feel the same way a classico is a classico is a classico!!! I could not stand it if we went out to them.

  2. Isaiah, dear, did you forget your medication…again? jk 😀

    Yup, the copa isn’ t too important but it’s against THEM.

    Back in the States waiting for one more flight to home. Thanks again to the best hosts ever! Did y’all hear us cheering at the Osasuna game?

  3. Its EE, it matters. I’m sure we all know Madristas who are chomping at the bit, anticipating some (in their opinion) deserved schadenfreude at our expense. We. Must. Not. Let. That. Happen.

    (credit to Kxevin, and apologies for plagiarizing his emphatic syntax)

    1. If only he had the same predictive powers as Sid Lowe, I’d feel much better. Of course, the key will be how well we defend the counters – we’ll score some, will they?

    2. Graham Hunter gets paid to say games will be close.
      Personally, I’m approaching this game with arrogance and complacency. It’s the only way I know.

    3. No animal is more dangerous than a wounded one. I read that piece as well and I agree, despite all the drama in Madrid, they are playing better than before the break. They’ve even kept all clean sheets bar the Valencia 1-1.

      Yes, this is the time Barca can really stick it to them but, I don’t think it will be that easy. We were missing important players the 3 times we met earlier this season and yet we won one, drew one and you know the other one. EE wasn’t able to fully exploit our weakness in the liga to get the win. It wont be a walk in the park but, I think we’ll have a positive result.

      I just hope CR doesn’t score and be subjected to his annoying celebrations(I’m sure he will) and the boys have a stellar performance.

      VISCA BARCA!!!! 🙂

    4. Thanks for posting Jafri. I’m not buying the “be careful of a wounded animal” scenario. As much as I respect EE and their ability to play, I think our boys are ready for this match. They’ve wanted it since the Super Copa. You best believe Xavi & Puyol have let it be know that our Mids and DB’s have to be on the very top of their game. Our front line will take care of itself. I think Busi will handle Alonso and mark him out of the game. He’s the one guy I worry about because of his accuracy over distance. If we can close him down quickly and not allow him time to pick out those balls Hunter mentions then I think we’ll be ok. Visca Barca! Visca Catalunya!

  4. I expect Real will come out as they always do and, in the first 30 minutes, press high, try to overwhelm Barca with their energy and get a few cheap goals. If Barca survives that it will be all over for RM.
    I expect that this time Barca will be more inclined to hoof the ball upfield if they get into trouble (which is good).
    The only real selection surprise might be Tito playing Alexis as a centre forward to keep RM honest and try to spring the off-side trap before RM fall back to play counter-attacking football.
    The loss of the Diver is a huge blow to RM because he’s the only forward who really tracks back.

    1. I agree with you but do you and others here notice that EE don’t really play well against us in their home ground. The only times where they were better than us for some stretches was in our home ground. Kinda weird. Perhaps their fans expect too much of them until the players feel a heavy burden.

  5. OT: How come Man City, the richest team in the world, manage to sell Balotelli for 20 million euro to Milan while all we managed was a 24 million euro deal over three years for Ibrahimovic???

    1. Because Guardiola wanted him gone, no matter the loss. Galliani and Raiola knew that, and played to it. Believe me, Raiola was almost certainly bummed that he went for so “little.” That cut into his fee. Probably had to settle for a smaller boat or something.

  6. Let’s get a good result and finally give Mourinho a “Mou, Res” season! We were so close in 2011. (Menys la Copa)

  7. Oh, and congrats to David Villa on the birth of his healthy baby boy Luca! Luca Villa – if that’s not a proper footballer’s name, I don’t know what is (but of course, no pressure).

  8. 1) Mourinho usually makes his teams sit back and defend deep at home so as to not give up an away goal; especially if he’s home in the first leg. It’ll be interesting to see if he makes them do the intense pressing instead though.

    2) Lev – Balotelli’s deal is also going to be paid over some time – three years I think. Milan still the pauperiest of paupers.

    1. The problem is that we are NOT a selling club. The only players to leave are those that are no longer required for tactical or disciplinary reasons… So the buyers know that we’ll have to settle for whatever modest they bid.

  9. Woke up with classic jitters! Mario Kempes just said on Fuera de Juego that with M*drid’s backline injuries he would play Alexis instead of Cesc, because Lexus is faster and can exploit their lack of speed… What do y’all think?

    1. That would be fine except he is having a bit of trouble putting ball in the back of the net. Iniesta and Cesc are carrying that burden these days.

  10. Just out of curiosity: How much do you fellow cules care about the Copa del Rey? For example, if winning the league is worth 100 points, how many points is winning the cup worth to you? And how important is winning the Champions League in comparison?

    For me, it’s about that:

    La Liga 100
    Copa 60
    Champions League 180

    1. Def. This is Madrid! That elevates the Cup Semi to the most important trophy right NOW! The CL & League are long hauls. This is right now in the moment and we don’t want to go out to EE!

    2. Yes, of course. I’m sure our players won’t waste a thought today about how much the Copa is worth in comparison to other trophies. It certainly wouldn’t help them to concentrate on their job.

      But since we aren’t Barca players, I think there is no harm in evaluating the different competitions.

      A Copa won after facing Madrid somewhere along the way is worth 75 for me. (If La Liga is still fixed as worth 100 points.) A Copa won after facing Madrid in the final is worth 90.

      In any case, for me the Copa is a major competition. Any trophy that is worth more than, let’s say, 30 points counts as major for me. In comparison, a Supercopa ranks somewhere around 5-10 points, The European Supercup 10-15 and the Club World Cup 20-25.

  11. I know Alexis has more speed and can break the offside trap, but I am inclined to go with Cesc. He’s been in fantastic form and his understanding with our front 3 has grown exponentially. Some of the tiki taka he plays with Messi, Iniesta, & Xavi/Busi is out of this world. I fully expect him to start since he was rested against Osasuna along with Busi & Iniesta. Otherwise, Tito would’ve played him for important league points. I love Alexis but I am more comfortable and confident that if Cesc gets a shot 6 yards from goal, he’ll not only take it, but bury it.

    1. If only Fabregas were such a lead-pipe cinch at Chelsea last year. We’d be defending champions, defending the CL crown again.

      What I’m saying is, a sure thing ain’t never a sure thing until it is. Or something like that.

  12. Question: Has Balotelli played for Manchester City in the Champions League this year? I am wanting to know if he’s Cup tied and cannot play for AC Milan against us.

  13. my starting XI for today:

    Alves Pique Puyol Alba
    Xavi Busquets Fabregas
    Pedro Messi Iniesta

    It’s the Copa, but it’s Real Madrid and maintaining our momentum here is crucial. A scoring draw would be fantastic.

    1. ” A scoring draw would be fantastic.”

      Really? Although I fear the worst, anything less than a comfortable victory against a M*drid without Pepe, Ramos, Casillas and Di Maria would be a disappointment imo

    2. It’s very rare to see a comfortable victory in a Clasico, no matter how down and out one team is.

      This is also a two legged affair. A scoring draw puts us in good position to advance, which is the ultimate goal.

  14. What I think will happen:

    Real Madrid 3-4 FC Barcelona

    Madrid going for it and scoring 2 early goals. Barcelona hitting back, Cristiano netting a late goal to save Madrid a chance in the return game. Overall a good result, a one goal win with four away goals will see us through in 9/10 return games.

    What I hope will happen, keeping a realistic view:

    Real Madrid 1-4 FC Barcelona, Real Madrid 2-5 FC Barcelona, basically any result that will end the tie tonight. Of course I’d like us to keep a clean sheet… but is that really a realistic outcome?

  15. I want Sanchez in the starting XI, even as I am sure it won’t happen. He’s the one player that RM have no real answer for (even if he often has an answer for himself). There will be space, as they send the legions to shut down Messi. I think that Sanchez is a destabilizing kind of a player that wreaks havoc with their shape.

  16. Anyone who wants a tactical breakdown, you should go read Euler’s twitter. Comprehensive stuff.

  17. All i wish for tonight is that the Team put up a performance that will stop their positive momentum. While RM struggled off the pitch they managed to get some good results on the pitch. Nice time to halt their resurgance and cause them and above all Mourinho some headache.

  18. As long as its Piqué/ Puyol at the back I’m not too concerned.

    I’m still of the opinion that adopting the more offensive style will cost us in the big games and for that reason I’d rather see Busi, Xavi and Iniesta in the middle. RM will press us big style and Cesc isn’t as good at keeping the ball. Not too fussed about the front line although I’d always play Villa over Alexis. However, neither is likely to start. I would like to see Dani at RB as I think he does deal well with CR7 although with Alba on the left he needs to stay at home unless he can get back on a quick break.

  19. Don’t kid yourselves thinking that RM is down and out in any way, shape or form. Essien/Varane/Carvalho/Arbeloa is still a heck of a back line. In midfield, it’s Khedira/Alonso/Modric, who is every bit as dangerous as Jughead. And up front, nothing has changed, except that Benzema isn’t quite so inept any longer. And Ozil still wants to show us what we missed in not picking him up.

    This isn’t going to be a stroll in the park. AND they’re at home.

  20. They may not have a five star backline, but they sure as heck have a four-and-a-half star one.

    Can we hope for a Liveblog tonight?

  21. Mou is a coward. If he thought Adan was better that Iker, why not play him v us. Instead he put in Lopez. tsk

  22. That sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach that can only mean one thing…clasico…again…

  23. This ref seems to be card happy. Center backs from both teams booked for their first fouls.

  24. The ref is trying really, really hard not to send off any RM player. I don’t wish him luck with that.

    1. He gave an yellow to Callejon to what was nothing compared to what Esien did to Messi as last man in defense minutes before that, which he didn’t even call as a foul.

      That said, the ref is not to blame for us not playing as well as we are capable of.

  25. The team’s passing touch isn’t in evidence so far. In defense, or attack.

    Arbeloa is trying to take over as enforcer in Pepe’s absence.

  26. Only saw the last 10 minutes of the first half, but we are playing right into Madrid’s hands tempo wise.

    The game is being played at an extremely slow tempo in midfield punctuated by short attacking bursts from each team. This plays to Madrid’s strengths and minimizes Barcelona’s. We need to get serious tika-taka going and start circulating the ball much faster in midfield.

    1. It’s just too open for my liking which as you say suits them more than us. They are doing a great job in pressing us at the moment. If we make them chase it by moving the ball quickly we could get our reward towards the end.

  27. We are not using the left side at all. Who is supposed to be on the left wing, Iniesta or Cesc? Either way, they’re both pulling into the middle.

    1. I was just about to post bile about Fab that he has not been involved all game, except stay forward.

  28. Barca have really forgotten how to counter with speed.

    Messi should have passed that ball just now. He held on to it for so long he gave RM their own counter.

  29. Haha. Someone threw something on the field, and Pique tried to show it to the referee. Puyol unceremoniously grabbed it from his hand and tossed it off the field. Then he yelled at Pique to keep his head in the game.

    That yellow card to Dani was really lame. Dive by Ronaldo, and idiot ref fell for it.

    Oh, Pedro. Are you channeling Alexis?

  30. Today the guys seems way off. Has not been pleasing to the eye at all. I know we must give credit to the opponent but I am not pleased about this effort.

    1. OK… way off might be taking it too far.. but I expected better play; not necessarily more goals, but better play

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