Here we go again: Messi vs Ronaldo, Neymar vs Bale, and the whole approach about who is the deserving La Liga champion in the never ending battle between good and evil, which all depends on a point of view, as Barcelona and Real Madrid get ready to play each other for the 226th in official competition.
Everyone agrees that there is no bigger club match in the world. There are other Clasicos; even “Super” ones. However, this match, even in years when one of the teams isn’t doing too well and it has no title implications, crosses boundaries, borders and sets TV screens (less and less with everyone moving to their computers, tablets and cell phones) on fire.
Real Madrid were more interesting as that evil team trying to destroy the beautiful football by the geniuses from Barcelona. Having Jose Mourinho spewing fire and venom everywhere helped sell that image. Cristiano Ronaldo was also viewed as a narcissistic jerk, who cares about goals and is getting tired of being outplayed and out loved by Lionel Messi.
Everything changes at some point. Barca no longer have the squeaky clean image to them. Neither does Messi. The tax evasion, the team’s own financial dirty dealings. The disappointing football under Tata Martino. Falling four points behind Real Madrid. Despite an incredible start, 2014 doesn’t seem to be the year of the Barca.
We’ve gotten used to the mantra: This is the biggest game in the world. But it’s been quite a breath of life to see Atletico Madrid do so well, hanging in there much better than last season. I’m not everyone, but I do know a lot of people felt a lot more excitement about the Madrid derby or Barcelona’s matches (and we still have three more of them) with Atletico Madrid this season, all ending in draws so far.
Everyone needs a change now and then. Something new to excite them, to expect, to look forward to. The Clasico is always that things during the season, sometimes expanding from just the league into the Cup (we’ll also have a Copa Del Rey Final) and possibly even in the Champions League. In 2011 we reached a peak that might not be seen again. Having Mourinho and Guardiola only heightened the suspense.
Guardiola is in Bayern, leading the league. Mourinho is with Chelsea, leading the league. Carlo Ancelotti doesn’t have that air of arrogance or controversy to him. Martino seems like someone who took a job a bit too big for him to fill. The personality clash just isn’t there. Grey and grey don’t create fireworks.
Or maybe this is just something that will change. With kickoff approaching, there will be a different sense and feeling to this whole show. Still, it’s Real Madrid vs Barcelona, with the Spanish title on the line, although Real Madrid can afford to lose. But you’re allowed to try and shake things up and declare a different match as the biggest there is, at least for a short while. Last year it was Dortmund vs Bayern Munich. This season? No one wants to admit, but it might be something that has to do with Atletico, who might actually finish in the top two when it’s all said and done.