[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="The Bernabeu will host the match on Wednesday"][/caption]
Barcelona and Real Madrid meet in the Champions League on Wednesday night in the third installment of a 4 part El Classico saga that has gripped the footballing headlines. In the first of the 4 meetings, they met in a league game that Real Madrid needed to win in order to keep their slender chances of winning the La Liga away from Barcelona. In a tense affair, Messi and Ronaldo both netted penalties in a 1-1 draw where Real Madrid ended with 10 men after Raul Albiol was sent off for a lunge on David Villa. Most recently, the teams met in the biggest El Classico for years as they battled in the Mestalla to get their hands on the Copa Del Rey trophy.
The game was a shining example of the pen being mightier than the sword. Mourinho finally got his tactics spot on and set out for Real Madrid to press and not let Barcelona get a chance on the ball. The best move from the Real Madrid manager proved to be putting Pepe further up the pitch in an attempt to stop Xavi getting any time on the ball and it was successful. Real Madrid stifled Barcelona and it took extra time for Cristiano Ronaldo to crash in a thumping header and give Real Madrid a deserved 1-0 victory and their first piece of silverware in 3 years. If you watch the video below, you will see how these tactics were shown on the pitch:
This game will be a chance for Mourinho to further heal the wounds of the 5-0 destruction that Real Madrid suffered at the hands of an in irresistable Barcelona. What do the statistics suggest about the game? Both Barcelona and Real Madrid have scored the most goals in the Champions League this year with 24 but Real Madrid have conceded 4 less goals than Barcelona with just 3 slipping past Casillas throughout the campaign. It would be silly of me to highlight who the danger men are in this match because with Messi scoring his record 50th goal of the season (becoming the first ever Spanish striker to do so) and Ronaldo being in formidable form, this game should once again be an incredible spectacle.
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="200" caption="Iniesta will be sorely missed"][/caption]
Barcelona have suffered the setback that Andres Iniesta will miss the match with an injury and Barcelona will be looking to Xavi to put on a stellar performance in his absence. Pepe will look to harass Xavi out of his comfort zone once again. If Sporting Gijon had not ended Mourinho's incredible 9 year unbeaten home streak then the game would have an added spice but regardless, the game will undoubtedly explode as soon as the first whistle goes.I would not like to judge on the outcome of this game but there is no doubt that it will be a tight affair. I expect Mourinho to hold an extremely tight line to try and restrict Barcelona from flowing forward but I am not sure if they will be able to hold them out. I fully expect both teams to score in this game but as for the final result? Only time will tell.
Prediction: Real Madrid 2-1 Barcelona