I'll be honest--at first I was somewhat nonchalant about today's El Clasico match. But now that we're only a few hours from the first kick, I must say I've gotten the pre-match jitters. So I figure why not pass the time by bringing you some Bernabeu Bites -- which as you can imagine are going to be focused on the Copa Del Rey/El Clasico.
Today will mark the 217th El Clasico since 1902 when Madrid and Barcelona played against each other for the Spanish Cup.
As you may recall, at the beginning of the 2011/2012 season we sent Royston Drenthe on loan to Premier League side Everton -- more or less to get him out of Jose Mourinho's ever graying hair. Drenthe has a mouth full of sour grapes, and now he's spitting those seeds back at his parent club.
"Sneijder, Huntelaar, Robben, Van der Vaart...They leave there one after the other and are like baguettes in a hot oven. We are betting on who will be next," he declared. "Sneijder never wanted to go. Is he worse than Kaká? I don’t think so because Wesley is better. It’s scary to think about it. Huntelaar was only given half a season to show what he could do. All our best [Dutch] players leave there."
Now, let me just say something: yes at this particular moment in time Inter Milan's Wesley Sneijder is better than Kaka. I can't really debate that, but if you look at their complete bodies of work, our boy Kaka comes out on top. Drenthe is like a little kid who hasn't got what he wanted and is now crying in a corner. I really do hope that this loan turns into a permanent thing because he's sure as hell burnt a bridge back to the Bernabeu.
For the most part, when you see the camera turns towards the FC Barcelona touchline, manager Pep Guardiola is pretty much a picture of composure. Though if you cross him, there's hell to pay -- and no one knows his wrath more than Xavi. Case in point: the weekends match up with Real Betis. It seems that FCB's play wasn't up to what his view of its status -- and he let them know it. Xavi was at the blunt end of his rage.
"He said when it went from 2-0 to 2-2 they were unrecognisable and at 2-2 he wanted things done as per script, as the 'Catalan Kids' have been taught since they were 11 or 12. He wasn't seeing that.
Emphasis is mine. Looks like Pep's been spoiled to pieces and when things go all pear-shaped he gets angry, as he should. But he's also got to remember he's dealing with professionals not "kids" and that might be one of the reasons that Xavi fired right back at him.
Xavi turned and yelled back, but it's not the end of the world that he sniped back at him. But what Guardiola made very clear by word and gesture is that he wanted Xavi to turn, move the ball inside - not back - and open up the left wing to release the pressure that way and take the ball up the pitch.
Pep's got a point. Xavi is the king of back and side passes, but rarely do his passes go forward. Maybe he's tired of playing second fiddle to Lionel Messi, though we'll never know for sure.
I think because of my love for baseball I love numbers andstats and in any form I can get them. I'm a numbers junky and love it when pieces like this one are published. I'll give you just a taste, click the link to read more.
362 - The number of goals Real have scored in official 'Clasicos', 12 more than Barca
Like I've mentioned before, I wish some FC Barcelona fans would take a cue from the manager that they worship like a football demi-god. This is a great quote, something some cules could learn from.
"In sport there are no precedents. It matters what you do at the time. "Tomorrow is a new day and 90,000 people will support a team in white. You have to start again. That's the beauty. This work makes sense because it offers passion."
Speaking of the Pepster, he is of the belief (and I'd have to say I agree) that this game could have harmful effects to the loser of this el Clasico. It could dictate the form of the losing team for the rest of the season, in both la Liga and in the Champions League, which starts back up next month.
"The team that loses this tie will end up wounded, and has to recover very quick," the coach told reporters at his press conference.
We all know that no matter where Jose Mourinho has coached, he's brought titles and hardware to his clubs. But it seems that the Spanish press doesn't understand this. And it's this that makes Mourinho irritated. It's an example of "Damned if I do, Damned if I don't."
"How many titles do I have to win in order to avoid being questioned for what I do? Tell me what I have to do to satisfy you," Mourinho said at a press conference. "If I field Karim Benzema as my striker, you all ask about Gonzalo Higuain, but if he plays, you want to know why Benzema is out.
"If I play Pepe in midfield, you all stress he's better at the back, but if he plays in defence, you suggest I use him in midfield."
I was led to believe that the American sports press were a bunch of idiots, but I think even the Spanish press has us beat. That and I think the press in Spain has a love affair with Pep Guardiola and FCB.