Friday, October 25, 2013

Are aging defenses key to El Clasico?

Messi and Ronaldo, Bale and Neymar, Isco and Iniesta.

We won’t be able to take our eyes of El Clasico tomorrow at 5pm, but as good as the attacking talent is, maybe it’s time to consider the decline of both teams defensively.

Sergio Ramos and Pepe could start for Real. I’ve made my feelings known on Pepe, but Sergio Ramos is just as much of a liability defensively. He makes rash choices, stands off Messi too far, then gets too close and fouls. Pepe just kicks people and complains. With Iker Casillas still sitting on the bench (he must have done something we haven’t heard about), Diego Lopez will continue in goal – I can’t work him out, but he seems very average to me.

But Barca have issues at the back too. Gerard Pique looks likely to miss out with a hamstring injury, with Mr. Universe Carlos Puyol coming in. He makes you feel good about how you look, but he’s been a beast in the past. However, he’s 35 and not been playing much – pair that with the ticking time bomb that is Javier Mascherano and there’s trouble.

So basically, there are a lot of goals due tomorrow. Both teams have amazing attacking players who we don’t need to discuss, and they are playing against two defenses* that really aren’t up to the top level of world football – it’s amazing to even consider that seeing as Mascherano is Argentina captain and Ramos and Puyol are World Cup winners. They have been great players, but Busquets, Isco, Alonso and Xavi can’t protect their back lines for much longer.

Luckily it's at the Nou Camp, otherwise I'd be predicting a last minute penalty for Real to win.

*defense/defence - it depends where you live!