As you can see, we’re quite taken by the abundance of Clasicos this month, and the night before Clasico 2.0 (not my idea, someone somewhere wrote that), we give another go at the Real Madrid-Jose Mourinho-Barcelona thing.
We’ll start with Barcelona and their manager, Josep Guardiola. He spoke about the upcoming Cup Final, doing a bit of trash talking, something he doesn’t always get involved in. Regarding Real’s tactics for the game – Real have a variety of systems and game plans. Five minutes into the game we know what their tactics are and we’re able to respond. Mourinho mentioned that Pepe can easily stop Messi. Guardiola on the matter: I’m not responsible for what Mourinho has to say.
Barcelona’s head coach also referred to Saturday’s 1-1 draw – We talked about the mistakes we made in the match and we’re hoping to do it right this time around. Real’s style and the way they play is completely up to us and what we do in the game. Guardiola also commented on the Messi incident (kicking the ball into Real Madrid fans), saying he spoke to him about it and he apologizes if anyone was hurt from and by his actions.
On to Jose Mourinho, but not his words or any controversial comment – this time the way he’s talked about. Iker Casillas, Real Madrid’s goalkeeper and likely to open at the Cup final, despite the tradition of letting the second string keeper start the matches in Cup play (Barca are playing Pinto) – Mourinho is a great winner and I’m sure he will lead us to victory. Funny. Instead of believing in the mega star squad and teammates he has, they have faith in their manager to pave the way.
Real’s general manager, Jorge Valdano, also spoke about the game – Moruinho has experience in finals, he knows how to handle these matches. We have very talented players and my message to them is that they can succeed.
This is probably the greatest thing about Mourinho – he shines brighter than anything else around him, including a club, probably the biggest in the world. He directs all the talk, the criticism and fire at himself. He defends the players. He attacks the whole world, with cause and without. A player like Cristiano Ronaldo, usually a lightning rod for all sorts of attention is completely focused and playing the best football of his career. He doesn’t get the Messi-like recognition because of his persona and his reactions in games some times. That doesn’t matter – 29 league goals, 41 in all competitions, 74 since arriving from Manchester United.
It’s Mourinho against the world, while Real Madrid and the players, a group that individually might the best in the world but not there yet as a team, can be relatively shielded from the media. Only problem is – does this create an over reliance, mentally, on Mourinho from the players? Do they have faith they can only beat Barcelona with the right tactics, guidance?
I conflicted, a few days since Saturday, who took more from the draw – Barcelona, showing themselves and Real they can play at half speed and thrust and still dominate (72% possession and pretty much the same amount of chances) or Real Madrid, showing amazing spirit with 10 men, playing better as the game progressed and eventually getting the equalizer, no matter how much of blown call it was by the referee. I was leaning towards Barcelona when the match ended. Still, not losing to Barcelona for the first time in quite some time, even with 10 men, has to give them a confidence boost. Or do they need Mourinho to tell them it was good for them? I guess we’ll see in Part 2 of 4 tomorrow night.