According to a new article out of Madrid--Real Madrid fanboy paper number one, MARCA--Real Madrid boss José Mourinho has been "thinking about the clásico" for the past few weeks, and has come up with an anti-Barça plan: start a defensive midfield trivot featuring Xabi Alonso, Lassana Diarra, and Sami Khedira. The idea here is to jam up the center of the midfield, so as to stifle Barcelona's creative play.
If you're seeing some similarities to Mou's decision last year to stick Pepe, traditionally a CB, into the midfield, then you're pretty astute! Yes, the idea is to stifle Barçaś midfield, just like last year, but without sacrificing solidity in the defensive back four like he did in April of 2011.
Ultimately, this isn't huge news: we've all been speculating for a while about Mourinho's possible tactics heading into the clásico, and it definitely wouldn't be shocking at all if he decided to come out with a slightly more midfield-heavy defensive lineup than we've seen this season. At the same time, I think it would be a mistake to move away from the speedy, direct-yet-well-developed style that has characterized Madrid's offense this season. There's a reason that Mourinho's boys are on top, and it'd be a mistake to completely abandon our identities to chase Barça like last year.
However, I don't actually think that starting a three-man center midfield with Lass is necessarily a huge change of pace for Madrid: the 4-3-3 is a classic Mourinho system, and one that he has employed with this group to great effect. Both Lass and Khedira are strong contributors on offense when needed, and have been employed as such this season (e.g. the Valencia match).
I guess the only thing to wonder about at this point is whether Mourinho will choose to play Ángel di María, Mesut Ozil, or Kaká (if healthy) in the third offensive slot. Should be an interesting couple weeks!