The El-Clasico (Collectivism v Individualism)

I just read Micheal Cox’s preview (Zonal Marking) of tonight’s El Clasico and i just thought to lend my humble opinion to such a fascinating encounter, that the world has grown to love more and more with each passing installment. Only one other club rivarly even comes close to the Real v Barca rivalry; Boca Juniors and River Plate and their clash is also a clasico; the Super Clasico.

In this period of absolute Barcelona domination, i cannot remember a Clasico in the last 3 years that Barca would be approaching as the underdogs; 3 points or technically 6 points behind on Real Madrid at this point in time in the season and with obvious distractions of the World Club Cup to come, Barca won’t like their current positions. However, reverse is the case for Real Madrid, Jose Mourinho hardly loses when the initiative is in his hands; Real look rampant, playing expansive counter attacking football. Now the difference between both teams are, Barcelona are fantastic in a team sense and the style of play expresses collectivity; Real on the other hand possess a collection of individuals that would blow any team away.

The game is quite an impressive and tantalizing prospect especially for the neutrals as a lot of fans from both teams would be biting their nails from the intensity of the action. This match would be won and lost as follows;

Which Pepe would turn up?

Depending on how Jose approaches the game, it is imperative to point out how important the Portuguese Center Back would be to Real. Would we have the strong commanding defender we know Pepe to be or would he be played in defensive midfield to pick up Messi and let the occasion get to head by getting into needless battles on the pitch and eventually get sent off. Whatever position Pepe plays he’ll be crucial, note that Ricardo Carvalho is injured, that may just swing Jose’s decision.

Will Real Defend?

A lot has been said about how Real Madrid will approach the game, because looking closely at the table; the Madrid team do not need to win this and a draw may just be enough for them, but then what’s to say Jose won’t go for the opportunity to stick one in to his big rivals, going by the the great football Real Madrid have played so far this season.

Will Barca dare go 3-4-3/3-3-1-3?

Pep Guardiola has shown this season with the squad he has that there are various combinations and variations to their play and set up. He’s played without defenders in one game employing midfielders across his back line. He’s even toyed with Cesc Fabregas as a false 9 so far this season, the variations seem endless; however, Pep won’t dare go with 3 at the back, because Real would just have a field day; Ronaldo and Di Maria on either flank would have an absolute field day. Pep/Barcelona really need to improve on their scouting and get a proper center half to compliment the injury prone pair of Pique and Puyol; a pair i understand have only had 3 starts together so far this year; a back four is expected.

How will both teams line up?

I think both teams will line up in a 4-3-3; as always Barcelona will press all over the pitch,but i do not think Real will press high up the pitch; they’d want to play to their major strength, Pace and their expansive counter attacking weapon. The personnel will be the problem, absolutely difficult to predict what’s going on in the head’s of both managers; but i’ll try.

Real Madrid : Casillas, Arbeloa, Pepe, Ramos, Marcelo, Xabi Alonso, Khedira, Lass, Ronaldo, Di Maria, Benzema.
Real will set up with 3 combative midfielders with Xabi the deeper of the three, in order to orchestrate play when Real have the ball; Real won’t defend,but won’t press high up the pitch; expect Real to set up in a 4-1-4-1 when without the ball; Ronaldo to act as the lone man in this case, to get Real on their way on a counter attack.

Barcelona:  Valdes, Alves,Abidal, Pique, Mascherano, Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets, Messi, Fabregas, Villa.
Barcelona will line up as usual, however the interesting element will be figuring out if Messi will play as a false 9 or Fabregas will occupy that position or Iniesta will be pushed forward to join the front 3. I think Messi will play wide on the right to utilize the gaps that Marcelo will leave behind and combine with Alves to good effect,but then Alves also needs to watch his back. Villa may just play central or Cesc may take the False 9 position,if Iniesta is not pushed forward.

Who needs the result more?

Barcelona need the result more, a draw would be just great for Real,but don’t expect them to play for it; it would be feisty, flowing, attractive and enjoyable. I just hope we won’t have an anti climax, Real have the resources to play great football against Barcelona, so Mourinho should give us a spectacle and not go into a shell from the first minute with instructions to commit grave bodily harm on the rather small in stature Barca players. Let’s be having it boys.


A score draw is on the cards.

Adeyemi Adesanya
Sports Business Consultant and Football Intermediary; Risk Management & Due Diligence Consultant; Freelance Football writer & Pundit on Radio & TV and Man.Utd Fan

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