I'll be honest here. I have little idea how Mourinho's going to play this one. It'd have been easy had Madrid still held their ten point gap - all out for victory. Get that win over Barca to complement their league title. Lose and it's disappointing, but at least Madrid would have gone for it, and they'll still have the title.
Now? With it all to play for? It's anyone's guess. Jose is the master of keeping us all guessing...
Looking at it in simple terms - simple being the key word here - and to go and get a draw in Catalonia would be just the tonic for Madrid. Retain their four-point cushion at the top of the league, deny Barca on their home turf and be just three wins away from lifting the title. With a tricky trip to San Mames to face Athletic Bilbao still to come, that four-point cushion could be crucial.
Chelsea showed that an all-out defence approach can nullify Barca. Mourinho's former club defended superbly at Stamford Bridge and, although the Catalans still created a number of good chances, Roberto Di Matteo's game plan ultimately paid off. Everyone, even Madrid, knows La Blaugrana will dominate possession, especially on home soil. They did it in London and they'll do it on Saturday night at the Camp Nou. Mou and his men can take plenty from Barca's midweek Champions League defeat, however. Could Chelsea's success inspire Mourinho and Madrid to play the same way?
One thing going for Los Blancos is their ability to counter attack, and do it better than Chelsea. They're the best team in the world at it, in my opinion. Ronaldo, Di Maria, Benzema, Higuain, Ozil - all players that can turn defence into attack in the blink of an eye. With Barca pushing men forward to play their tika-taka approach on Saturday, Madrid can certainly look to be lethal on the counter-attack and hit Barca with a sucker-punch, much like Chelsea did on Wednesday.
It could mean three holding midfield players instead of the usual two of Xabi Alonso and Sami Khedira. Nuri Sahin is extremely unlikely to play as the third due to his lack of match action, and Spanish sports newspaper Marca this week hinted that Mourinho could opt for Lass Diarra to add some more punch to the Madrid midfield engine, leaving Ronaldo, Di Maria/Ozil/Kaka and Benzema/Higuain as the out-and-out attacking trio. Madrid could move Ozil further back into the deep midfield three, instead of Lass, to keep an extra attacking spark in there, but would he be wasted playing so far behind Madrid's forward three? Lass may not be everybody's cup of tea, but if Madrid are going defensive, to hit on the break, I'd prefer him alongside Xabi and Khedira than moving Ozil, or someone like Kaka, deeper.
A betting man would put three in the holding midfield role for Madrid on Saturday night, but could Mourinho pull a surprise and opt for a more attacking approach?
One way of looking at it is that if Madrid do go out for the win and end up returning to the Spanish capital with defeat, the title is still in their hands. The lead may have been dwindled from ten points to four, but if you'd have asked Madridistas at the start of the season if they'd have taken a one-point lead over Barca going into the last four matches of the season they'd have snapped your hands off.
There's still the burning desire for Mourinho to beat Barca, especially in their own back yard, and avoid the obvious questions of 'would the title be tainted if you can't beat Barca?'. Jose may still play this down to the press, and of course winning the title is huge whether a victory against Barca comes or not, but I'm sure Mourinho is desperate for that victory over Madrid's arch-rivals to come.
Aitor Karanka, Madrid's assistant manager, said in the pre-match press conference that both Ozil and Di Maria are fit to start. With Ronaldo also a nailed-on starter and Benzema/Higuain set to lead the line, does this mean Madrid could opt for their usual 4-2-3-1, or a variation of that, in the Camp Nou?
It'd be a bold move, and it'd one that'd probably go down well with Madridistas, and the club hierarchy to go with such a line-up in Barcelona. It's one I, and probably neutrals tuning in for this game, would like to see. Spain's best going for it toe-to-toe for the title. For Madrid to implement this and to come away with a win would surely see a huge shift in power in Spain. Even for Madrid to go to Catalonia, play in their usual attacking manner, perform well and return with a draw would be significant.
To wrap up the team dilemma, many people have been telling me on Twitter that Kaka should start the game. First off, I can't see Mourinho playing the Brazilian from the start. I think Mourinho will go with Ozil, and it's a selection I'd go with too. I can't see there being room for both players in the starting eleven, especially if Di Maria (who'll also get back and do his bit to help the defence) gets the nod. Ozil has been the better player over the course of the season in my opinion, even though Kaka has improved. The German had a pretty good game when the sides last met at the Camp Nou, too. More likely that Kaka would start from the bench and add some extra spark to Madrid's attack in the second half, if required.
Interestingly, Madrid's better performances under Mourinho (the 5-0 thumping aside) have probably come at the Camp Nou in Clasico matches. The 2-2 Copa del Rey draw there earlier in the season, although seeing Madrid lose 3-2 on aggregate, was probably the best Los Blancos have played against Barca. Mourinho's men were also just edged out by a late Lio Messi goal in a 3-2 Spanish Super Cup tie at the start of the campaign, while the two defeats at the Bernabeu this season have been relatively comfortable wins for Pep's boys. Madrid have been edging closer to a Camp Nou victory - is this the weekend it will come?
No Clasico would be complete without the theatre that comes with it - like it or dislike it. Will Pepe lose his head? Will Sergio Busquets or Di Maria show the footballing world their play-acting? Will Spain's Euro 2012 squad be split down the middle? Will Jose be eye-gouging? Hopefully the game can pass off without any of the negative points that we've seen over the last few years. I'm sure it won't be a white-as-white contest, but let's keep the spotlight on the sublime football we known both teams can produce, shall we?
Finally, it's all about the stats in La Liga this season. For Madrid and Barcelona, anyway.
Goal record: Both sides have been scoring at a phenomenal rate this season, but Madrid could smash the record for goals scored in a league season at the Camp Nou. They already hold it thanks to John Toshack's team of 1990 with 107, but Mourinho's Madrid levelled that record last weekend. A goal at the Camp Nou would set a new league record.
Messi v Ronaldo: It's a comparison that can easily become tiresome, but both players are tied on a record-breaking 41 La Liga goals this season. One of them will get the new record this season, but who will it be? Ronaldo has already grabbed the record for most away goals in a league season with 20 so far this term, can he extend that in Catalonia?
Both go into the game on the back of defeats: Who'd have thought? Both Barca and Madrid going into a Clasico on the back of losses - Barcelona at Chelsea and Madrid in Munich. Someone could end up with back-to-back defeats to their name this season - something which may not seem alarming but bucks the trend of their superb form.
I know there will be plenty of Barca fans coming on here over the weekend - welcome, and play nicely! It's great to have banter from both sets of fans but please make sure it doesn't turn into all-out abuse and foul language. And before the questions start no, I'm not a neutral. I'm a Madrid fan and Madrid ESPN correspondent, giving my thoughts from a Blancos perspective.
Here's hoping for a cracking game of football, and, of course, a Madrid win...
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