Liga Preview: Barça – Real Madrid, Monday 3pm EST
They’re a swarm, coming at you. The hills, green moments ago, are turning white. From high up, you’re sure they look like ants devouring the forest floor. You look at your men: they’re hard men, strong men. Men with the look of veterans, with scars—is one guy missing an arm? Jesus—men without fear. They’ve followed you into worse. You’ve led them into worse. Remember that. Remember you trust them, that you wouldn’t trade them for anyone else. It’s never a good day to die, but if you’ve got to go, take a few of them with you.
You cycle quickly through your catalog of inspirational speeches. There’s that laugh-a-minute version of the Braveheart For freedom speech—no, too gimmicky and probably not appropriate anyway since you mention things that’ll disturb one or two of the younger guys, the guys who haven’t been on as many campaigns—the JFK Ask Not remix you worked on all night but which you’re pretty sure will just scare them, and there’s always Marcus Aurelius, but you can’t quite remember the original Latin and it just doesn’t pack as much punch in translation.
Here they come, someone shouts. They’ll be on you in a minute, like a horde of zombies, but uglier and less intelligible. You’ve got to say something, you’ve got to let the men know you’re with them. It’s like the time in college when you did all that research for that midterm on the mating habits of rhesus monkeys until 3 hours before hand and then you panicked, realizing that the professor had said bonobos, not rhesus. Just like that. You know you can do this. You reach back, into your mind. Wrap your hand around that idea, that one right there. Ah yes. You can tell this one is a real clusterbomb of genius.
I’m not freaking out. I swear to you. I don’t have random moments when I’m having a conversation with The Lady and suddenly, midsentence—sometimes even midword—I stop and stare off into space because my heart just went from country path to autobahn and either I’m having a heart attack or thinking about el puto clásico. Thankfully I don’t do that. Thankfully I’m level-headed and capable of rational thought during the 72 hours before a match of this magnitude. I didn’t, for instance, have trouble sleeping on Friday night because I was thinking about tactical formations to counter a 4-2-3-1. That would be absurd and a bit scary.
Official Prediction: 2-0, goals by Messi and Pedro. That is right, suckas, I’m going for a full on clean sheet ass kicking and not just because Valdes is my keeper in fantasy La Liga. This is war, this is death, this is EL CLÁSICOOOOOO.