A Boy Can Dream: Barça-Real Madrid (SuperCopa Leg 1)

As you’ll note shortly, perhaps even by the end of the paragraph, I am not very good at science or things related to science. I do, however, have a theory that there’s a part of my brain that controls emotions. I don’t know that that is a particularly revolutionary theory, but I think that this emotional center is somewhat like an air traffic control tower. I’m a fairly calm balanced person a lot of the time, meaning the emotional planes take off and land at scheduled intervals. Things go in an orderly fashion and the Isaiah FAA has little to respond to. I actually think brains are controlled by smaller versions of people sitting inside those people pulling levers.

Say the word “Clásico” however and there are suddenly incoming distress signals and planes taking off the wrong way down the runway. What was a clear, sunny day has suddenly been invaded by a severe thunderstorm of crazy. In order to remedy the situation, the airport either has to be shut down completely and planes returned to their origins or surrounding highways have to be used for emergency landings. The former is not possible, so now the highways in my head are completely filled with crashing planes and screaming motorists. That, in turn, causes the whole city to sort of freak out and maybe a power station goes down, causing intense external twitching.

It’s only preseason—or wait, is it? We just had the Gamper and now we’re playing the Supercopa, but hey, wasn’t that Real Sociedad match for real?—but it’s never really preseason when we’re going up against our arch rivals. Oh, no, this isn’t the Supercopa Catalunya or whatever. Yeah, a real clásico. There go the sirens again and the Isaiah FAA is really pleading with me not to say that again. It’s like Puyol in the second Banquillo. This trophy means little, but as Kevin previously tweeted it does does allow for a general appraisal of the team early on in the season. Real Sociedad is not the strongest of opposition, so facing a truly world class side will help Tito get his bearings for the coming marathon of a season.

Because the match is on a Thursday prior to a Sunday match (at Osasuna, a typically hostile place to play and stadium where the team dropped 3 points last season) and just 3 days after a back-to-back matchup in the league and the Gamper, this should not be taken as seriously as it was last year. The scheduling pretty much ensures that that will be the case for the first match, but depending on the outcome of tomorrow’s leg, the second could either be a relaxed kickabout or a hard-edged knife fight. Putting your money on the latter wouldn’t be an unwise move.

What would be an unwise move is having Messi play 180 minutes of these matches, but that is exactly what is going to happen. Can’t stop, won’t stop. It could be his motto. The thing is, though, with just 3 substitutions, any coach has to make decisions regarding Messi prior to the beginning of a match. Either he starts and plays 90 or he doesn’t play at all because he’s obviously so physically fit as well as versatile that taking him out can’t be justified (this is, of course, not true during international friendlies, but apparently no one believes that). So he’ll play 180 minutes of these matches as well as 90 against Osasuna on Sunday. So it goes.

What also goes is that we can approach this match with a kind of righteous indignation. Our player who removed his shirt in celebration of a goal is, after all, receiving a fine more than 3 times as large as Mourinho did for physically attacking an opposing assistant coach. Seriously. That is happening. And while it’s a bit of a conflation of two things, it is still true that RFEF got this one terribly. Suspending Mourinho for a few matches would have been a vague hand-wavey gesture that smacked of misplaced priorities. Doing nothing (and when you make the kind of money Mourinho makes, €600 euros really is nothing–I think Mourinho makes around €10m a year, maybe a bit more. So something to the tune of 0.06% of his annual salary; if you make $50,000 a year, that’s a fine of $3) is tantamount to asking the big clubs, Barcelona included, to increase the number of such actions they take. You’ll be fined 600 euros! And I bet Madrid paid the fine. Take your $3 and shove it, RFEF. It’s not that Villa doesn’t deserve punished under the rules (though the rule is idiotic and should be changed if not removed from the books entirely), but that Mourinho should have been made an example out of much like Dani Benitez was for his actions at the end of last year. Benitez, of course, made the mistake of playing for Granada instead of the other team on the field at the time. Whoops. None of that, by the way, excuses Benitez in any way. He should have been suspended. But so should have Mourinho and fined an appropriate amount.

So here we are, another clásico and another time to breath in the fresh smell of vitriol. Sometimes it feels like I hate it and sometimes like I can’t get enough. But what I really want is a supercharged atmosphere and a clean game. A game that we can look at and say “Holy Moses Malone, that was a partidazo.” One like the 1-3 at the Bernabeu–a much better game, I thought, than the 1-2 at the Camp Nou, but that one was also at least controversy free. Either would do me just fine, I suppose. A boy can dream, right?

I don’t know who will start this match other than to say I would be shocked (shocked!) to see David Villa start given the amount of time he got in the Gamper. I think, though, that we’ll see a massively star-studded lineup. I do think we’ll see Alex Song make his debut and I do think we’ll see a team looking to make a statement. Maybe Mourinho will experiment with some newfangled lineup or perhaps Tito will, but mostly I think it’ll be a cat-and-mouse game prior to the lineups coming out and then it will be all guns blazing. Hopefully it’s worth the buildup, such that it is. I think I’m no longer dead inside from the 4 clásicos in half a day or whatever it was. I’m glad I lived through it, but I’m also fortunate that I did. It was too much and maybe I’ll say the same come October 7; for now, though, I feel ready to approach this not like an ideological showdown with the puppet-master of evil, but rather like the only truly titanic matches that we will have domestically this season.

There is sadness about La Liga this year, a lot of which is chronicled by Tim Stannard and another large chunk by Sid Lowe. As Arch Bell tweeted in response to the Stannard article, “This is why all the cool kids who want a competitive Spanish league follow the Segunda instead!” There’s a glimmer of something different in Segunda: a potentially different champion. Currently it’s Elche who are sitting top of the league (after just one match) while in La Liga, it’s Barça. Of course.

Official Prediction: 2-2.

And because this deserves to go all over the internets again:

Image from Eurosport

By Isaiah

Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater Philadelphia area.


  1. Barca are in a no win situation here. Win comfotably and it’ll be ‘expected’ and watch Madrid downplay it (no meaning, early season, players out, etc) Lose and or Draw, and watch the press eat it up and see Mou turn himself into ANOTHER name which changes more than Prince ever did.

    Having said that, this could be an early blow to Madrid mentally; I personally believe the only reason they won the title last year was due to timing. By that I mean the natural run of things indeed has to come to an end at some point (circle of life etc) and with the key injuries we had, was bound to happen.

    However this season I’m already quietly(no, actually, loudly) confident we’ll take the league as a minimum.

    Still, early days, so, lets go with a, 3-1 victory, shall we.

  2. Like many of you I’m not feeling very Clasico-ish. Partly because I can’t watch the game live or even follow on twitter. It’ll all be over by the time I get home. And yeah, it feels too early. I’m not mentally ready. I am just hoping that we will see a nice clean game of football with no controversy, outbursts, fisticuffs or crying (unless it’s Marcelo. I do love to see Marcelo cry.). Pepe not being fit to play is a bonus (I wish him a full recovery, just not a fast one).

    My lineup:

    Alves Puyol Pique Alba
    Xavi Busquets Iniesta
    Pedro Messi Alexis

    The smart money might be on Masche to start over Puyol or Pique, but I just have a gut feeling. Subs: Masche, Cesc, Song (if we have a comfortable lead) or Villa (if we don’t).

    Prediction: 2-1

  3. However insignificant the competition may be, However tired I may be of clasico overdose, and However friendly the players of both teams may be, it is still real mordor visiting our house and I’d always wish for nothing but send them home with a resounding thrashing.
    I’d love for us to win this one 4-1 and then send the babies for the second leg. Visca

  4. A clasico is a clasico is a clasico. Yeah it’s early and yes it doesn’t count for much, but I’m excited as hell. I think the team wants to prove a point and dare I say it will today. 3-1.

    1. just saw it. yup, looks weird, but kid has some determination to focus on his performance, shaking off some image distractions. good sign for us.

  5. Like many have already noted here, the main thing that I am looking forward to seeing is how our team fares against top level opposition.

    I’d hate for us to be like Madrid of two seasons ago, brushing aside smaller teams and generally looking like the stronger side compared to us, and then having their asses handed to them when they visited the Camp Nou.

    Better to understand the true balance of things early when there’s less at stake, even if it means we don’t win this.

  6. Obviously this match is almost meaningless on paper, but we want to win for ourselves. We have more to play for than them. Tito needs this win to gain faith from Camp Nou as well as admins.

    Prediction: 2-0

    Lineup prediction:
    Alves Pique Mascherano Alba
    Xavi Iniesta
    Messi Alexis Villa

    Villalba too hard to drop, their chemistry was so impressive vs Sociedad. Pedro as impact sub almost always work better than a Villa sub. Alexis shown time and again how well he could link up with Messi in preseason and I can’t wait to see them crush some merengues.

  7. I’m very much looking forward to the 1st leg later today v LWBs. The last I’ve read Pepe is out. That’s good for our team and Messi’s knees and fingers 😉

    It also means that Albiol is a likely starter today. I’m licking my lips in anticipation of Alba, Iniesta, and whomever is out on left wing (Villa or Tello) repeatedly undressing Arbeloa and Albiol. Fasten your seatbelts folks!

  8. Keep keep the typos so terribly. Adds to the frenzy. Weather it’s too much chocolate or too much classico-punch induced, your previews are the perfect appetizer I-man. (And that last match review set the bar)

    But now your sirens have awakened mine, gotta make sure good stream is available. Oh yeah..the time/place:

    4:30 Eastern (2030 GMT) espn.go.com rojadirecta.me

    1. Ha, ha, no i’m in the not-so-humid mountains of northern California (US)…where it will be a nice lunchtime 130 pm (430 pm on eastern coast).

      Sorry for your early wakeup…but I guess a Classico first thing in the morning beats coffee! I have to get up at 2 am to watch my beloved Collingwood Magpies (Austailian rules) sometimes…so 430 am sounds kinda nice!

  9. By the way I move to change links on this page from dark blau to easier to read granna. Any seconds?

  10. Uh oh. Rustu paid a visit to the training ground and took a photo with VV. Hopefully he didn’t pass the butter grease from his hands to VV.

    The guy has serious butter fingers issues man!!

    The number of times he fumbled the ball… And many times it was in the last few minutes of a match. My goodness…. Those dark moments. So glad Barça signed him cause he had a great World Cup.

  11. As long as Messi, Iniesta or Xavi get hurt, I’m fine with whatever result. As long as we show them who’s the boss I’m fine.

    Don’t want us to not down like in the return La Liga or 2nd leg of Supercopa last year when we nearly lost after getting outplayed for the whole of 2nd half.

    1. The exclusion of one little word makes your sentence accidentally sinister. Let’s hope that none of those three, or anyone really, gets hurt, eh? 🙂

  12. Strangely calm. Matbe it’s ’cause the game doesn’t mean much…only it does because it’s against <b.them. I don’t care if it’s a cup or a piece of aluminum foil, if it’s silver they must not lift it!

    Agree with Blitzen’s lineup
    Alves Puyol Pique Alba
    Xavi Busquets Iniesta
    Pedro Messi Alexis
    although it wouldn’t surprise me to see Cesc in place of a forward because:
    Alves Puyol Pique Alba
    Xavi Busquets Iniesta
    Pedro Messi Cesc
    would make it a > 90% home grown lineup which would be insanely cool!

  13. I’m not nervous, infact I’m strangely calm and kinda, meh, about the game. I’m excited to see Barca play again and against a top level opposition but I just think there’s more resting on Liga Clasicos and/or CL/CDR Clasicos, so I dont have to be as tense. I dont have the feeling we’ll win this leg (and I wont be freaked out if we don’t). I think it will be a scoring draw.

  14. The Mods are too pessimistic this season

    for your information we are not playing 2-2!!! at. the camp nou. Period!!!

    expect Barca to win…afterall we have enough class than EE….esp xavi,iniesta,messi all playing

    Barca will win convincingly

  15. Lineup: Barça’s line-up confirmed: Valdés, Alves, Piqué, Mascherano, Adriano, Sergio, Xavi, Iniesta, Pedro, Alexis and Messi (@fcbarcelona)

    Adriano is the big surprised. I guess Tito wants to be a bit conservative.

  16. Real Madrid line-up (official): Casillas – Arbeloa Albiol Ramos Coentrao – Alonso Khedira – Callejon Ozil Ronaldo – Benzema (@barcastuff)

    No Di Maria.

    1. Thanks.

      I’ve already seen things implying that Madrid’s team is weakened while Barca have gotten out the big guns..

    1. Anyone else notice Affelay didn’t make the squad for the second straight game? Definitely being loaned out or sold. Arsenal is the rumor if the Navas deal doesn’t go through.

    2. Navas highly unlikely but i don’t think arséne will opt for Ibi since he has to clear the out the deadwoods first in order to comply with FA regulation.

      Loaning Ibi isn’t the right choice selling is.

      Let’s see how he deals with the situation 🙂

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