Well, it’s finally here.
Barcelona vs. Real Madrid.
La Liga doesn’t have a playoff system or a championship game, but if it did, this would be the final.
This article is for Culés. Let’s just get down to it the point, OK?
Barcelona has more pressure to win than Real in this game. Some of you might be thinking that this is not the case since it is Real that has the four-point lead and the Liga collapse would fall on them, but I don’t see it like this.
This game was always important. But after the Chelsea loss, this game is needed for more than just La Liga race. This game is needed to lift the morale of many Culés that have been down since Wednesday’s loss.
Personally, I’m not down about what happened at Stamford Bridge. But there are some fans that are already worrying about the team and what will happen between now and Tuesday night. Two titles could be lost in just a few days, so I understand why some Culés are a bit anxious.
But relax; Barcelona has been in these kinds of situations before.
The team can handle the pressure.
A Clásico win is needed on Saturday to get those little thoughts of panic that some Barça fans have been feeling out of their heads.
This game is needed so fans can feel confident going to into Tuesday’s second-leg game against Chelsea.
This game is obviously needed to give us Culés satisfaction that our biggest rival fell to our team. If either Barcelona and Real Madrid do not meet in the UEFA Champions League Final, this will be the last Clásico for a while. Bragging rights are always line for El Clásico, but last Clásicos of the season are a bit more important for some fans, as they will carry this win for the summer and into the next Clásico, whenever than takes place.
Barcelona has pressure because for many, for this Pep Guardiola-led Barcelona team—with all their titles and recent dominance of Real—to lose to Madrid at the Camp Nou is simply inconceivable.
Barcelona has more pressure than Real Madrid because if they lose, La Liga is over.
If they tie, La Liga is still over in my opinion. Barça need this one, period.
It’s all on FC Barcelona.
Are we Culés consistently asking for too much from our team with a sense of entitlement? Perhaps.
But tell me one football fan that doesn’t feel their team shouldn’t win every game.
How can we Culés not feel a bit spoiled by all this success? And yes, they earned it. It's sad that some people think there's a giant football conspiracy favoring Barcelona.
Then again, some people will believe anything as long as it either goes in their favor or makes them feel justified.
So what do I see for this Clásico?
Both teams will be tense for two different reasons. Real will be a bit tense because they will be looking to not blow the 10-point lead and be on the brink of total collapse. Madrid needs this win to end La Liga and have momentum going into Wednesday’s clash against Bayern Munich.
Barcelona will be a bit tense because they can lose La Liga with a tie or loss. They will be tense because they know the pressure of not losing to their biggest rival and essentially having them win La Liga on the Camp Nou’s hallowed grounds.
All eyes will be on Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, so I won’t bother you explaining how important their performances will be on Saturday.
Two players I will keep an eye on other than Messi and Ronaldo: Mesut Ozil for Real Madrid and Alexis Sanchez for FC Barcelona.
If Ozil can repeat the performance he had in the Copa Del Rey second-leg game earlier this year against Barcelona, he will set up the attack and the Barcelona defense may not be able to stop them.
Alexis has still has not had a signature game as a member of FC Barcelona. I thought it would be the Chelsea game, but he missed his opportunity to have that signature moment that’s needed from him in his first season.
Here’s another chance, Alexis.
The first 20 minutes will dictate the game. If Barcelona establishes their usual ball-possession dominance, Real Madrid is in trouble. Real will not recreate what Chelsea did a few days ago and just simply rely on the counterattack. They will go get the ball. I can also see Real playing for the draw, which would essentially win La Liga for them.
If Barcelona is not able to establish ball possession and allow Ozil, Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema to have open spaces as we saw in the Copa game of January, it will be a long night for Victor Valdes and an already weak Barcelona defense.
In the end, I think it will be Messi that dictates the game and sets up his teammates for goals as Barcelona barely get past Real Madrid. Ronaldo will have a solid game himself, as will Benzema, but in the end, the Real midfielders will not do enough to support both Karim and CR7. The Barcelona midfield will dictate the flow as usual and neutralize the Real midfield.
I could see Real Madrid tying or losing the game, but I can’t see Real winning at the Camp Nou.
Since Pep Guardiola became the manager in 2008-09, Barcelona is undefeated in five all-time matches against Real Madrid at the Camp Nou. As the manager of FC Barcelona, Pep is undefeated in 13 of 14 matches against Real Madrid all-time.
I’m not saying it’s impossible, I’m just saying I don’t see it happening this Saturday.
Final: FC Barcelona 2, Real Madrid 1
Let’s hope the Camp Nou will be the setting of two magical games for FC Barcelona—all within one week.
¡Visca el Barça!
Xoel, The Voice of FC Barcelona on Bleacher Report!
Look out this Monday for my article "FC Barcelona vs. Chelsea: All Out for Munich," previewing the second leg of the UEFA Champions League semifinal.
Follow me on Twitter:@XoelCardenas
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