Barca: Víctor Valdés; Daniel Alves, Mascherano, Piqué, Puyol -Busquets, Xavi, Keita – Pedro, Messi, David Villa
Ronaldo starts-up top; Pepe again in the holding role. Albiol called on for Carvahlo.
Madrid line-up: Casillas – Arbeloa, Sergio Ramos, Raul Albiol, Marcelo – Diarra, Xabi Alonso, Pepe – Özil, Cristiano Ronaldo, di Maria
The Bernbeau will bare witness today to a revitalized Real Madrid side that is seething with confidence off a Copa Dely Rey win (trophy be damned) and weekend lambasting of Valencia.
Barcelona has continued their strong pace as well, only stumbling thus far in the trophy hunt to Madrid in the Copa.
All eyes today on Jose Mourinho despite Pep Guardiola’s theatrics. Sounds cliche, but Barca will play their game. They try to dictate the game tempo and play to every team they play. They believe they are the best.
Mourinho realized this strength and decided to park the bus so to speak in the first major showdown of his tenure. Bad idea. He put five across the back betting the Barca couldn’t find their way through on the floor and they’d have to come over the top. Didn’t work. Not only didn’t work, completely didn’t work. 5-0 Barca need I remind Real Madrid fans.
Fast forward to April and the Copa Del Rey and Mourinho’s got a new strategy and dare I say it’s quite similar to the one that Bob Bradley deployed to thwart Argentina. Mourinho took his defender Pepe and put him in the midfield and elected to press the passing lanes, slowing Barca’s attack before it got to Messi and friendly.
With Ricardo Carvalho and Sami Khedira (expected to be replaced by Lassana Diara) out, can Mourinho afford to push Pepe up the pitch?
What will we see tomorrow with Barca seeking at least one crucial away goal? If you remember last year, Mourinho got offensive against a Barca team that had bused it’s way to the San Siro with the soot of a volcano still thick in the air. Result 3-1.
This year? About an hour or so flight from Barcelona to Madrid. No volcano.
What to look at today? Just how offensive is Jose Mourinho at home.