By Jennifer Junneau
On the evening of November 29 the one place you’ll want to be if you’re a football fan is in front of your flat screen TV tuned into El Clásico. Barcelona FC take on Real Madrid in a match you won’t want to miss if you’ve been following the two teams this 2010-2011 season. Even if you haven’t been following, there has been enough media hype generated over the past week telling you it will be explosive. And it should be—shouldn’t it?
The big event isn’t all about politics and history between Spain’s two regions. It might not even be about the two best footballers in the world. Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo both copped hat tricks in their last games and have vied with each other in the last couple of years for the notable Golden Ball award. The teams are neck and neck for first place on the La Liga chart. Real Madrid carry twenty-seven league goals into Monday night’s game, Barcelona thirty-three. Yet Real Madrid hold a slim lead with thirty-two points to Barcelona’s thirty-one. But if the World Cup is any indication of how well Messi and Ronaldo will do under pressure in a major competition, you can count on a flop. With Ronaldo having scored one goal and Messi having scored zero, fans might have to rely on David Villa and Gonzalo Higuain to seal the points for their side. So much for anticipation of the world’s greatest. Both players choked as they were expected to be the top scorers in South Africa.
I could understand the anticipation though. For this event the real competition won’t only be a battle for grandeur between the two rivals, but an ego-pumping tournament between managers Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho. If you’re tuning in with high hopes of witnessing any bull-seeing-red behavior, don’t look to the pitch, look to the bench. The two managers have been known to throw tantrums and objects in lieu of unfair judgment calls from refs, so if there is any action to be had, the sidelines won’t fail to deliver—I promise you that.
One might think it would prove to be a more heated game to have pressure placed on two teams sinking, namely Manchester United and Manchester City, rather than a fight for first place between two teams rising, but the result of the proposed volcanic Manchester Derby on November 10 turned out to be a dud. If all the El Clásico pre-match build-up between the two best teams on the planet generated in the past week yields results akin to the Manchester Derby build-up, you might as well spare yourself a yawn and go out and play some golf. The awaited Manchester Derby ended in an unspectacular draw of 0-0. No exceptional plays. No reds cards. No fire-sparked fits and left fans and critics asking, Was that it?
Aside from focusing on individual players Messi and Ronaldo, both sides proved to be unstoppable when playing collectively as a team, not to mention the fact that thirteen players combined from Barcelona and Real Madrid make up the Spain national team. If anything, to watch the world champions exhibit their flair all over again on the pitch divided between the two sides should be sufficient reason enough, then tune in.