El Clasico Liguero: Saturday 4pmEST, ESPN Deportes/ESPN3 and GolTV
You ever stood in front of a snorting rhino, its mammoth foot pawing the ground, horn shaking up and down while its eyes somehow stay rooted on you? Me neither, but anyone who has played against Carles Puyol has felt that same cold, sweaty fear as the teams line up. I know this for a fact because anything less would be unimaginable. Each and every one of Madrid’s players are doubtlessly spending their evenings begging whatever crazy dark magic they employed to keep capitá out for this long to stay in effect just one week longer. But beware what you ask for, madridistas: if a butterfly sneezing in Borneo can cause a hurricane in the Atlantic, imagine what 11 exhaling athletes can do to the weather patterns.
But even if Puyol doesn’t make it and there’s no Day After Tomorrow super storm, that outpouring of relief, that “We’ve got ‘em now” thinking will get them only a backhand from one of the other mercurial geniuses to be found in blaugrana. It’s not that I’m overconfident it’s that I’m holy crap on a stick in a rainstorm of crap-covered sticks batty about the coming matches. Have I mentioned there are 4 of them? Have I mentioned that?
Well: there are 4 of them!
Will it ever be a walk in the park? Of course not, the manita wasn’t (but it was a manita!) and these coming matches won’t be either. We’re injured, we’re wounded, but we’re also going to enter pissed, ready, focused, and, as always, virtually impossible to defend. Yeah, it’s at the Bernabeu (more like the burra-bay-ew, amirite) but so were the 2-0 and the 2-6.
But I mentioned pissed. Why? Because like Meatloaf says, you just can’t push someone too far. Or you risk an explosive reaction in your face. You risk finding yourself on the wrong end of an elephant tusk (just to continue the imagery from earlier) named golaaaazo de Messi. You risk sticking your neck into the guillotine of Xavi’s brilliance. You’ll never see it coming but hoo boy will that sucka sting.
And this one is for all the marbles. They’re all for all the marbles. But these are the league marbles and no matter what you say, no matter how hard you try to convince me, I will never believe that anything other than the league is most important of the competitions. Lay it on the line, boys, and do it in all 3 competitions. We’re jugando la liga right here, right now. 10pm local time.
And that is where we are right now, us cules, we blaugrana. We are without our captain, our defensive lynchpin, and we’re also missing our first choice left back and an able midfielder. But we are there, jugando, as always, disfrutando del fútbol, living with every pass, dying with every mistake. And that is el clásico. The whistle you’ll hear ringing in your ears throughout the match every time they touch the ball will be your passion. That feeling that is like some lovely and horrible adrenaline rush that won’t let go of your heart is morbo. Or it’s a heart attack and you need medical attention. Who can know?
Busi in midfield, Milito in the back, Adriano out left. The rest? You already know it. You already penciled them in. You are already watching them in your mind, those impish wonders, those tiny creatures of pure joy: pass, move, offer. Repeat ad nauseam. You’re already screaming out el cant, you’re already holding up your scarf in your local bar, you’re already embarrassing your fiancée on the subway chanting something about Madrid quemando.
Our squad: Valdés, Pinto, Alves, Piqué, Puyol, Xavi, Villa, Iniesta, Messi, Jeffrén, Keita, Busquets, Pedro, Milito, Maxwell, Afellay, Adriano, Fontàs, Thiago, Jonathan.
Predicted lineup: Valdes, Alves, Pique, Milito, Adriano, Busi, Xavi, Iniesta, Villa, Messi, Pedro
Official Prediction: 0-2, goals by Messi and Pedro. Deja vu?
TV: In the US, ESPN Deportes and ESPN3(HD) and GolTV(HD).
Time: 4pmEST, 10pm local time.
And now: Freakout time!! Yay! In the meantime go read Euler’s tactical post for, you know, knowledge and other icky stuff. Me, I just know about this: