Anticipation is in the air all around the globe among fans of the beautiful game, as perhaps the world's two most prominent clubs meet at Santiago Bernabeu for the first leg of the Champions League semi-final, as Real Madrid face bitter rivals Barcelona on Wednesday night.
Both clubs are soley focused on Champions League play, as the La Liga title will no doubt go to Barcelona. The idea that two matches to decide who makes the Final, and the fact that the two clubs will have played four matches in less than three weeks, adds even more drama to a rivalry that has plenty to spare.
But how the match will play out is what matters.
Real Madrid will be without Ricardo Carvalho, but have many options at forward off the bench. Mourinho will have to decide between three attacking players: Karim Benzema, Gonzalo Higuain, and Emmanuel Adebayor to sub in, should he choose to have all three on the bench, which is what he did the last time these two clubs met last week.
Higuain may still not be at 100 percent, so expect Adebayor to get the nod and replace whoever is lagging in midfield.
Then there is Kaka. The Brazilian midfielder has seen limited action, but should Barcelona get on the board early, Mourinho may turn to the former Ballon d'Or winner to create opportunites.
Real Madrid can exploit some deficiencies in Barcelona.
For one, Pep Guardiola is thin in defense. Without Eric Abidal, Maxwell, Adriano, and with Carles Puyol just coming off an injury, Mourinho may be best served to abandon the option of counter attack, and exploit any defensive weakness that seem apparent.
With midfielder Andres Iniesta sidelined, Seydou Keita will probably take his place on the left side of the midfield triangle and pick up the slack. Iniesta is great with ball possession, and his absence may be a key reason Barcelona are not able to employ their tactical strategy.
That ball possession strategy is Barcelona's defense -- opponents can't score if they don't have the ball.
And Real Madrid will desperately try to score. Mourinho wants to attack at home, and defend on the road.
Barcelona has too much pride to not attack, and have the weapons to do it. David Villa and Pedro are coming off poor performance last week, and will look to rebound.
Midfielder Xavi was rather quiet last week, as well, so an inspired performance might be expected from the Catalan star. Defender Dani Alves might get the green light to create opportunities on the right side to send crosses to Barcelona's forward trio.
As always, tempers will flare, and Real Madrid will look to throw off Barcelona's dizzying ball-possession strategy by forcing freekick situations by fouling and baiting Barcelona to foul.
A key player will certainly be Lionel Messi. The Argentine star witnessed Cristiano Ronaldo knock in the game-winning goal in the Copa del Rey, and has yet to score a non-penalty goal in the three matches with Real Madrid this year. When challenged, Messi often rises to the occassion.
PREDICTION: Messi creates his own shot, and scores in the first half, for the much-needed away goal. Real Madrid responds in the second half, as a tired Barcelona squad concede a goal off a freekick.
FINAL SCORE PREDICTION: Real Madrid 1, Barcelona 1.