There are always big games to be played each year, whether it be club or country. We as fans love rivalries. We either support one of the teams and hate the other, or we watch the game as neutrals, anticipating fireworks, good play and heated battles.
International games between rivals are few and far between, but we always enjoy Argentina – Brazil, England – Germany, Spain – Portugal, USA – Mexico etc…,but typically only during World Cups or regional competitions every 2 to 4 years. “Friendlies” fail to measure up.
Club games though, are far more frequent and because they are often played twice a season and sometimes in the case of cup competitions, 2 to 4 times more. This breeds anticipation and each win or loss, or hard tackle or dubious goal, is fresh in each club supporters minds when the sides meet again. Unlike a Yankees – Red Sox series, which in my opinion has lost some of its intensity, due to the fact they meet 17 times a season (playoffs aside), these soccer games are talked about for weeks ahead of time.
Rangers/Celtic, the Merseyside Derby, North London Derby, Milan Derby, Galatasaray/Fenerbache, Roma/Lazio, Boca/River Plate to name a few, are all great matches, where league standing is cast aside. It’s all about beating your rival at all costs.
Often in these situations, skill and smooth play is thrown out the window and the referee is handing out cards like a dealer at the Bellagio, but Mondays Clasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona at the Camp Nou could prove to be something different and here is why.
For the first time in awhile, we have two of the best players to ever play the game around at the same time (too young to see if they will eclipse Maradona, Pele, Zidane, Cruyff etc… but don’t bet against it if they continue down this vein) Not only that, they play in the same league and on Monday, Cristiano Ronaldo will face off against Lionel Messi.
Their supporting cast is not too shabby either and the managers are world class as well.
To borrow some stats from the other Guardian publication. 13 World Champions will be playing. The last two winners of the Balon D’or will be there. The reason its not the last 5 is that Kaka is injured and Cannavaro and Ronaldinho have been let go to “greener pastures”. The last 4 top goal scorers of the Champions League will be there. Basically one will be hard pressed to ever have had a club game with this much talent on the pitch.
Currently Real Madrid are one point leaders with 32 points and Barcelona are second with 31. No offense to the rest of La Liga, but this is now a two horse race and the title might well come down to goal difference.
The only thing that will stop this being an amazing goal fest will be the “special ones” defensive tactics, but with Higuain, Ozil, Ronaldo, Alonso, Di Maria et al, how can one be defensive. Barcelona will be going with “guns a blazing”. Lets hope, the game will live up to its billing, if not, there will be another one very soon!
TSG will be doing our best to do live commentary. If not, we can all blame COMCAST for being a bunch of douchebags!