Real Madrid came away from the Nou Camp on Sunday with a much deserved point as both Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi netted a brace in a pulsating 2-2 draw. Mourinho’s men may still be 8 points behind the Catalans but there was a sense of progression ever since Mourinho first took charge of Real Madrid in 2010.
Nobody would have imagined Madrid scoring 2 goals at the Nou Camp two years ago – Pep Guardiola’s men completely dominated Jose Mourinho’s side in the 2010/2011 season, winning 5-0 at home, drawing 1-1 away from home and while Real Madrid did beat Barcelona in the Copa Del Rey final 1-0 – a match which many considered a fluke - Barcelona had the last laugh, knocking their counterparts out of the Champions League semi-finals 3-1 on aggregate en route to winning the competition. Mourinho’s tactics were heavily criticized, especially by The Guardian's Paul Hayward who asked, "How, the plutocrats will ask, did [Mourinho] expect to knock Barcelona out with 28% possession, in his own stadium – and by leaving Kaká, Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuaín on the bench for the full 90 minutes?"
Spanish soccer powerhouses collide again on Sunday. Real Madrid takes on archrival Barcelona in the first ‘Clasico’ of La Liga’s season (the two teams met twice in the Spanish Supercopa which Real Madrid won). While Barcelona is continuing to dominate in La Liga, Madrid has had a tough go of the early season. Barcelona is a perfect 6-0, good for 18 points, while Real is 3-1-2 (or 3-2-1 for American readers), accumulating ten points, good for seventh place. Records aside, this shapes up to be another fabulous match up between two soccer goliaths. Here are three things to watch for.
The Real Madrid-FC Barcelona historic rivalry will be re-ignited when the two teams will face off in the third El Clasico of the season on Sunday at the Nou Camp.
Following is a prediction of how the two teams could stack up and what could be the possible scoreline for the highly-anticipated game.
The Catalans will be without their influential leader Carles Puyol after the latter suffered a dislocated elbow during the club’s midweek win over Benfica.
Thiago Alcantara and Gerard Pique too are unavailable for Sunday’s game but Tito Vilanova will be boosted by the return of midfielder Andres Iniesta.
The Spaniard has been the club’s best performer after Lionel Messi over the past 12 months and will be one of the most important players for Barcelona against Real Madrid.
Victor Valdes will be the undoubted number one despite his horrendous error in the first Clasico of the season.
He’s been the club’s first-choice goalkeeper for almost a decade now and it overwhelmingly unlikely that he’ll be dropped in favor of Pinto come Sunday.
Spanish football is at stake and it will "kill itself" within five years, according to Jose Maria Gay de Liebana, Spain's most prominent football economist.
An economics professor at the Universidad de Barcelona, expressed his concern over the world’s one of the most famed soccer league during his fifth annual presentation on financial issues facing Spanish and European football.
One of the most well-respected professor stated that revenues aren't rising fast enough to match high costs and La Liga's television deals are poorly structured.
He also said that too much importance is placed on attracting Chinese fans and suggests the radical change of forming an Iberian league with Portugal's three biggest clubs
"If things go on like this, Spanish football will kill itself," he said.
"A year ago I predicted that La Liga had only ten seasons left, now I see that five more would be a lot.
"The Spanish league is not growing, there are only two teams, which are growing: Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Former Arsenal skipper Cesc Fabregas has made his intentions very clear and is in no mood to leave the Spanish Giants. Barcelona signed Fabregas from the North London club during the last summer transfer window.
Fabregas rubished the rumours surrounding his departure from the Catalan club and insisted that he is happy with his current club. The Spaniard went on to accpet that he has to prove his worth at the club week-in, week-out, if he is to remain key to Tito Vilanova's plans.
"I said when I signed here that it was going to be the most exciting and difficult challenge of my life. I knew I was coming here to compete for a place against the best players in the world" Fabregas said.
"But I like big challenges. If I didn't, I would have stayed at Arsenal where I was the captain, where I played every game and where I was treated so well. I would never have taken the big step and the huge risk to sign for Barca and fight with the best players in the world for a place in the team especially as there were never any guarantees given that I would play.