Another Clasico, Another Day: Real Madrid – Barcelona

RealMadridVsBarcelona

You’re all a bunch of suckers.

You’ll be glued to your TVs tomorrow, breathlessly, possibly nervously, finger beer bottles and/or lucky rabbits feet. You’ll don your scarves and jerseys, finagle a few hours of freedom from eye-rolling significant others. And I’ll be laughing. I’m going on vacation. I’m getting away from it. I’m not checking the score and I’m not worried about the result. Perhaps we’ll win–I hope we do–but mostly I’ll be breathing deeply for the first time in weeks, letting it all go. I won’t be on a beach and I won’t be sitting still, but I’ll be smiling and walking slowly. Most of all, I won’t be filling up with hate or adrenaline. I won’t be holding my breath when the ball is near the box. I won’t be screaming at someone to do something. Vacation.

I’ll look out across a field in a part of the country I’ve never been to before and the blue I see won’t be blau and the red I see won’t be grana. They won’t even be Jayhawk colors. I won’t connect the white I see with They’ll just be pretty colors. I won’t be checking email or writing blog posts. I won’t be thinking about formations or squad health. I won’t be thinking at all.

It’s been too many. It’s been too much. We’ll play and we’ll win or we’ll lose and then we’ll go back to what it was before: nervous tapping on keyboards, filling the time between matches with as many words as possible. I’ll be there, doing that, but later, after I’ve disconnected. After I’ve learned how to breathe again. After I’ve learned how wake up without considering how to fit everything I need to say into a post people will read.

It’s Madrid, it’s el clasico, and it’s me gone for a few days. Not long. But long enough. I’ve had enough of anger. I’ve had enough of caring whether or not Mourinho is happy right now or if he’s just a [insert your favorite curse]. I’ve had enough of screaming profanities at Pepe, enough of trying not to think the ref is biased, enough of connecting historical dots to present day athletic competitions.

I’m not even checking squad lists. I don’t care. I hope Abidal plays and I hope Abidal scores. I hope Abidal subs on to rapturous applause. I hope Tello plays. I hope Villa plays. I hope Alexis is in on goal and smashes one by Diego Lopez with authority. Not because I need us to win, but because I want to learn to love again. If they don’t do these things, if Abidal remains in Barcelona, if Tello is an 88th minute sub, if Diego Lopez calmly grabs Alexis’ shot, I will learn to love again anyway. Because it’s time to do that. It’s time to stop worrying and learn to love the bomb. It’s el clasico and I won’t be watching. And I won’t be worried. And I won’t be here.

It feels good just to write that. Mourinho may claim moral victory, yet I definitely feel victorious at the moment. I doubt I’m any taller, but at least the mental weight is off. It might just be a thing where I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m going on vacation during a clasico, so I might as well find the positives in it or it might have something to do with the 16 point gap between the 2 teams (13 even if we lose!), but whatever it is, I’d like to bottle it and make billions. That old thing Hector Pills? A children’s dose compared to what I’m on.

Can you make this deal with yourself: enjoy the game. Win or lose, can you enjoy it? Can you look at the team and pick out the fun? Can you see how good Iniesta is? Can you be awed by how Puyol can get in position a full minute before the ball is there? Can you admire Xavi’s endurance? Can you take in an Alexis run and notice its timing rather than its finished product? I won’t ask you to think any positive thoughts about Madrid–even I’m not on something that strong–but can you forgo the negativity for a day? If sport is spectacle, this is the Big Top during the grand finale, the elephant balanced on one leg while fireworks threaten to burn the whole thing down.* Why not enjoy it? Why not be those Bradford fans at Wembley sticking it out until the last minute, down by 5?

Me? I’ll be eating biscuits and gravy until I pass out.

The game kicks off in the afternoon – 4pm CET on Saturday 2nd March

Click here to convert the match time to your timezone: Real Madrid vs. FC Barcelona

Streams for the match are usually found on First Row, Roja Directa and Bar TV.

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*I’ve never been to the circus. Is this what happens? If it is, I want to go to the circus.

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Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in Germany with his wife and daughter.

30 Comments

  1. March 1, 2013

    Sorry for posting off topic in the first comment, but for those interested in sports analytics, here’s a paper by a researchers based on Xavi’s interview about always looking up and around before you get the ball:

    http://www.sloansportsconference.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/The-hidden-foundation-of-field-vision-in-English-Premier-LeagueEPL-soccer-players.pdf

    Short version: players who look up before they receive the ball make better passes and are more likely to be “better” players. Unfortunately the analysis is restricted to the EPL. Comparing across leagues would be very interesting.

    • Archie
      March 1, 2013

      Hello Ahsan,

      Check out a coach from my town, Allentown, USA, who has spent his career working on ways of teaching the skill of “looking up and around.”

      http://www.seeingthefield.com/

      Archie

  2. March 1, 2013

    I won’t take vacation and I don’t hope Barca wins. I just want to see the game and enjoy the game once again, thats the most important thing for me. This is why I watch these games, the 90 minutes where you are just in some other place when you watch Barca, I want this back more than anything, more than results. The last games with Milan and Madrid it’s not the result that bothered me, it was the game, that Barca didn’t look themselves really.

    But I definately take a vacation right atfer the 90 minutes of the game. It’s been an habit of mine lately, because this is the stressful part, for me at least. Sadly I’ve heard things lately like this is the beginning of a doom, it’s like the Rijkaards last season etc stuff. Patheteic. I just don’t want to talk about this any more, I hope this won’t make a huge wave here as well.

    I just hope a good game like the first league Classic this season.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sbzCSxVacnU
    – Beautiful, Highly recomended to guys who are really stressed out after taking a dip into the horrible media world in the post Copa clash with Madrid.

  3. March 1, 2013

    Sadly, Isaiah, there is no chance of Abidal playing as he has not traveled with the team. Too bad.

    • nzm
      March 1, 2013

      I hope that they’ll wait for a home game to bring Abi back on.

      Camp Nou will be the best crowd to celebrate that.

      • March 1, 2013

        Not to mention the potentially vile things some of their less enlightened supporters might decide to do or say.

        • Jim
          March 1, 2013

          You know I even think he would receive a great reception at the Bernebeu – certainly from the RM players.

        • March 1, 2013

          Well, it’s not like there aren’t “less enlightened supporters” in the Camp Nou…

  4. georgjorge
    March 1, 2013

    I would be glued to the TV if it was in the evening, but as it is I will be spending the day with my son and some friends. I’ve watched nearly every La Liga game this season, but somehow after the last games I’m burned out on soccer and all the excitement and content with missing this one and having a nice day another way. Have a good time too everyone.

    Can’t wait for the Milan game though 😉

  5. Jafri
    March 1, 2013

    I’m fine with losing; I’m okay with the players looking flat/out of form. That stuff happens. But to look tactically out-thought, to have it seem that we’ve already lost the match in the team selection, in the tactics/formations we’re going to employ before we even step onto the field – that the opposition coach knows exactly how to wrap us up in swaddling clothes and neutralize us – that stuff irritates me no end. That needs to change, and fast.

  6. Huckleberry
    March 1, 2013

    It is quite obvious that Barça has no chance in any competition, if most things – like the health of Tito or Abidal – are more important than preparing and winning games.

  7. barca96
    March 1, 2013

    Question is do we play the strongest team to try regain our pride or send out a weakened team?

    • mom4
      March 1, 2013

      And if we send in out strongest and lose? That would be a psychological disaster!

      Actually I’d like the fringe players to go in there a put on the show that the big boys couldn’t manage. That’d be special!

      • Archie
        March 1, 2013

        I think for all the reasons mentioned in anticipation of this game, it is possibly the weirdest most complicated game of the season. It both doesn’t matter at all and is essential that Barca put in an intelligent passionate effort.

  8. fcbfan10
    March 1, 2013

    I don’t think this is fair for Roura and Tito. Roura is not supposed to be a tactical genius in the first place and if Tito is the one decides line-ups and tactics as they are saying, that’s a way too much pressure for a person under the cancer treatment. That kind of stress can’t be good for Tito’s recovery. Not at all. It might be the pressure he feels is keeping him under treatment longer than it expected. Imagine what’d be going thru his mind when his players looked so lost with their heads down on the pitch with their boss thousands of miles away.

  9. Chiu
    March 2, 2013

    as much as I want the second string team for tonight classico, I think our coach would still roll the strongest lineup, supposedly something looking like this:

    VV
    Alves – Mashc – Pique – Alba
    Busi – Ini – Thiago
    Pedro – Messi – Alexis/Villa

    The team would still want to play for pride. I just hope if we field our fisrt team, we could control the tempo and reserve some enery. No need to go full throttle just for meaningless 3 points. A draw would be satisfactory for me. A small win (0-1 or 1-2) could be a likely result if Madrid rest lots of pillars ahead of CL exertion.

  10. fiazhamsath
    March 2, 2013

    Can you believe a Liga Clásico being a dead rubber? When was the last time it happened? This Barça team was THAT good this Season. With the pessimism in the past weeks its hard to believe we are on the way to Liga Glory. Can I thank this team to wrap up the League this EARLY? Gracias Barça!!

    But seriously I’m so sad the Bernabéu Liga Clásico is so early. It should have been in the 34th or 35th Round like last Season. A Guard of Honor at the Bernabéu for the last Clásico of José would’ve been so sweet. *SIGH*!!!

  11. I have already taken permission, to leave my work early. Loss/win, cant miss a Barca game.
    Am ready to wait for Abidal in our home. He deserves a real reception.

  12. yassir
    March 2, 2013

    Dead Rubber or not, i want us to win this game,i also want all the regular starters to play, our next game is next week, at home, to Deportivo, where most likely messi, iniesta , alba and many others will not play, so i see no point in resting the top guns for tonight’s game.

  13. nzm
    March 2, 2013

    Line-up is:
    VV
    Alves Pique Mascherano Alba
    Thiago Busquets Iniesta
    Pedro Messi Villa

    Bench: Pinto, Puyol, Adriano, Song, Cesc, Alexis and Tello

    And now we see the depth of the RM squad:
    Lopez
    Ramos Varane Pepe Coentrao
    Modric Kaka Essien
    Callejon Morata Benzema

    Cristiano, Oezil, Higuain, Alonso, Khedira being rested for Man U and Di Maria red-carded out of the game.

    • replayed
      March 2, 2013

      I know Barcastuff listed it as 4-3-3, but I wonder if they’ll line up that way, or if Modric will be partnering with Essien as the second DM. Kaka would then be at 10, Morata on the wing, and Benzema at 9.

      Credit to Mourinho, but he’s shown that he knows how to rotate his depth. Except maybe for Modric and Kaka, all of these players have been included in starting lineups for important matches. Yes, some of that has been because of injuries, but even if some of them know they’re not first choice, they’re not usually made to feel second best.

      • jordi™
        March 2, 2013

        Not really, Mou never rotates, its only that they lost the league already. LAst year he didnt even rotate in dead rubber copa games which is why just like us they were not as sharp as possible when the cl semi’s came.

  14. psalmuel
    March 2, 2013

    whats frustrating about barca now is that,it almost seem like when they go out to play an opponent they don’t think of how to stop the opponent’s tactics. They just believe in tiki-taka-ing and hoping messi will put it in the net. They know most atimes that when teams park the bus, they are gonna hit on the counter and what do barca do about it?
    Alves says to Alba, ‘hey pal,am gonna go take a look at that bus,do you wanna come along?
    Alba: I’d love to but I can’t… What the hell! am coming with you’ and our ageing puyol and attacking defender (false CB?) Are left at the mercy of portuguese oil can (how did that phrase come about? i luv it) and diver maria (jug-head? Lol!). In the pep era,abidal stayed behind and busquets completed the quartet while alves bombed forward. It has become obvious that stopping our main goal threat in the person of messi {cos when you have ini and pedro! (¡)? in attack our real goal threat is messi since pedro is always to far out wide) our opponent’s job is atleast 70% done and its quite easy. Just put 3-4 defenders on him and we are good. Goal.com have been singing ronaldo’s praising and even saying messi was anonymous in the last classico,but to be honest would ronaldo had done anything if he had as many players on him? The answer is obvious. Against madrid,its easy too. Give them their own medicine, mark their real goal threat{cr7} out of the game {pedro is even better than benzema and higuain right now}. And again on the importance of having villa in the middle and ahead of messi, look at the last classico, I can’t remember higuain having an attempt on goal but his frequent movement was dragging our defenders out of shape. Look at the 1st goal, puyol was at LB just because higuain was there and it left pique all alone with penaldo {he hasn’t scored alot of penalty goals this season though. Lol}

  15. barca96
    March 2, 2013

    I’ve been saying for months now, Messi and Iniesta are passengers.

    And besides that, I’m bitterly disappointed at them for not showing leadership. They as the 2 best player’s of the team should show more courage and trying to lead the team.

    Iniesta is beings a ghost. Messi just doesn’t seem bothered anymore. Really disappointed at them. If I was a coach, I would play player’s that are 100% in it.

  16. barca96
    March 2, 2013

    The players seriously need a talking to. Play to the fuckin whistle!! So sick of always putting their hands up and complaining. It’s not like the referee can overturn the decision.

  17. barca96
    March 2, 2013

    -It’s official now. We are simply not good enough. It’s as simple as that. We can’t beat a Madrid team with 5 of it’s key players out. Don’t tell me that we have a few players missing too because our players are missing because of injury, not because we think we can make do with the squad players.

    Morata played the full match. Which youngster can we put in a match versus Madrid?

    It looks like our Barca babies are losing out tomorrow Madrid babies at this point of time.

    – We can’t beat a quality team. We can only beat teams that are financially handicapped. Our player’s should take a wage cut. I don’t think they showed their worth.

    Let’s not compare our player’s to Getafe, Mallorca, Levante players. Compare apples to apples. I see more fight and will in the Madrid and Milan players (the only 2 big sides we’ve come up against recently).

    – Now we’ve lost 3 out of the last 4 matches. That sounds like a crisis to me.

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