The biggest soccer match of the year is happening on Saturday, and Barcelona looks to continue to rally against a perennially tough Real Madrid team. The epic matchup between the Spanish rivals looks to be one of the biggest sporting events of the year.
Barcelona is riding a hot streak right now, having won 11 of their last 13 matches, and will look to continue that hot streak right on top of Real Madrid. The most heated sports rivalry in the world just got even more interesting.
Barcelona’s second-half rally will continue on Saturday against Real Madrid because of Barca’s season edge and coach.
Saturday will make the sixth time these two teams have faced off since August. In those previous five matchups, Real Madrid has not beaten Barcelona.
While that may seem inconsequential, especially considering the talent of the two teams and how close they have been, it means a lot in a rivalry this heat. Both Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola and Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho have waged psychological war on each other throughout the year.
Last year, the previously nice guy Guardiola finally had enough of Mourinho’s bullying tactics and fought back in the media with harsh comments about Mourinho before the two teams faced off in the Champions League semifinal. Guardiola’s comments appear to have sent a message to Real that Barca means business and that Mourinho cannot bully them any longer.
Since those comments, Guardiola’s team has clearly had the edge. The fact that Real hasn’t been able to beat Barca only proves that point, and the result will be the same on Saturday.
Guardiola is a better coach than Mourinho, and his teams have been consistently better too. Guardiola was the youngest manager to ever win the UEFA Champions League a few years ago. Back in January, Guardiola won FIFA World Coach of the Year. Mourinho wasn’t even considered second-best, with Manchester United’s Sir Alex Ferguson being voted the runner up.
Mourinho could be considered the more experienced coach of the two, but he’s also bounced around between teams much more than Guardiola has. He’s a firecracker, someone who will enflame opponents, both on and off the pitch. It would be unfair to say he lacks substance because he has had success, but he is not the coach that Guardiola is.
This late in the season, when teams are this tired, substance wins out over emotion. While Mourinho is very good at manipulating people to feel certain ways, Guardiola is better at actually coaching the game in a level-headed way. That will be the difference in this knock-down, drag-out matchup in which both teams are running on massive adrenaline.
With just five games left to play, Barcelona trails Real by a mere four points. This game itself will be a huge step for Barcelona in their rally to come back from a slow start.
They’ll complete that rally too, because they have a better coach and the mental edge.