Friday, 12 December 2008

Clásico: mission impossible or golden opportunity?

As the media machine that precedes every encounter between Real Madrid and Barcelona gears up to full speed, Juande Ramos should be thinking that this is a gilt-edged opportunity to turn his new charges' fortunes around.

The 3-0 win at home to Zenit on Wednesday was certainly morale-boosting, but neither its effect, nor the performance of the players should be overestimated. It's good to kick your tenure off with a victory and a clean sheet to boot, but let's not forget that there was nothing in play for the Russian side, as they had no chance to qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League.

A win (or possibly even a draw) at the Nou Camp would have no impact in the relative standings, and is unlikely to be particularly decisive in the championship race. However, psychologically it would sow some doubt in Barcelona's mind - they have been unstoppable recently - and might have the same effect on the Real Madrid squad that the equivalent fixture had two seasons ago when Capello was in charge.

The managerial reshuffle has made things a little more complicated for Pep Guardiola, who rested some of his players in the midweek loss to Shakhtar Donetsk thinking that Bernd Schuster would be in the visitor's dugout on Saturday. Some Barcelona fans are a little worried too.

"With Schuster, we knew more or less what they were doing. With Juande, I imagine they'll do other things," said Guardiola, adding that he would look at the video of the Zenit game and some of the Sevilla games when Ramos was in charge (clearly he doesn't rate Juande's stint at Spurs to be too significant).

Guardiola is also using cautious language when asked whether Real Madrid's numerous injuries would benefit Barcelona. "There are no second rate players in either Real Madrid or Barcelona," he said. His counterpart has not made a pronouncement either way, but it surely cannot be helpful to have to add Rubén de la Red to Diarra and Van Nistelrooy as players who will be out for the remainder of the season. De la Red has been the subject of numerous tests for what is believed to be a heart-related condition, which may force his premature retirement from football.

Regarding the probable Real Madrid line-up, the talk this week has been about Dudek getting a start ahead of Casillas in the Zenit game. Iker's uncharacteristic poor form this season (24 goals in 14 games) fuelled speculation that he might not be included in Saturday's squad, although the most likely explanation was that he was being rested so he could fully concentrate on the Clásico.

Juande has been forced to experiment already to cope with injuries and suspensions, bringing Metzelder in as right back, instead of his usual central position, and switching Salgado to the left during the midweek tie. Initially, the rumours suggested that Salgado would keep that position as Marcelo was suspended for Saturday and Juande wanted a right footed player to try to control Messi's runs on that flank. It now looks like it may be Sergio Ramos who will get that responsibility.

Arjen Robben, perhaps Real's most dangerous and in-form player, is also suspended for the Barcelona clash following his sending off last weekend against Sevilla. Drenthe is likely to be the player Juande feels can bring some width and speed (if not much in the way of precision) to his side.


Anonymous said...

One thing I´ve learnt in football is that history sets no president. So because RM got a result before in bad circumstances means nothing now. The fact is that they enter the game limping and Barça are flying. Mr Gomina has been clever yet again by masking his own inadequacies with a managerial change, when I was hoping that Saturday´s humiliation would finally out him as I blame him almost entirely for the predicament that RM now find themselves in, and having lost the prestige and respect that they have enjoyed for so long. I heard that when he came out publicly in support of Schuster after Valladolid, he had already negotiated the takeover by Juande, proving yet again what a duplicitous character he is, this characteristic seemed to abandon him however, when he needed to keep Robinho at the Bernabéu, who if you remember covered for Van Roy´s injury admirably last year.We will now have the verguenza of being below Depor and fighting for a UEFA place next year. Am I on a downer, or what!!!

RMCF said...

Clásico: mission impossible or golden opportunity?"

Golden opportunity, Impossible Is Nothing and less when we speak of Real Madrid C.F.

Brian said...

All in all I think this was a good showing for los blancos. While it wasn't the beautiful game, it was effective, and I don't think the 2-0 result was reflective.

I do think that during the transfer window we need to look to sure up the inexplicably shaky back line with a wing back to replace Salgado or Marcelo.

The league title might be all but lost, but let's not go the way of Bayern Munich and have to fight for a UEFA spot.

Amir Ariff said...

Yes, i agreed with Brian a CL league spot is okay with us depending on the tight situation we having