Tonight sees the renewal of hostilities between the big two in Spain, el clásico, between Futbol Club Barcelona and Real Madrid Club de Fútbol. Many in the country itself believe that they are the two biggest clubs in the world, many more around the world would find it hard to disagree. Vicente del Bosque, Spain’s National Coach and a former Real Madrid player and coach, yesterday received a medal of honour from the autonomous community of Castille and Leon for his services to the game.
The great man himself couldn’t split the big two and only hopes for a match that will promote the high standards of the Spanish game around the world. This would appear to be the very worry from the Catalan point of view as concerns have already surfaced over the choice of referee for the game.
Undiano Mallenco is not Barça’s favourite man in the middle as they see the match official as being a hindrance to Barça‘s prospects and stand-in coach Jordi Roura has even highlighted the Navarran official’s performance in their 1-0 defeat to Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey Final in 2011, when he was considered lenient in his handling of Madrid’s robust tactics.
José Mourinho made a rare appearance in a press conference this week to reply to Roura’s comments stating he didn’t wish to talk about referee’s and would prefer to follow Barcelona’s usual example of not hounding referees on the pitch, not feigning injury in an attempt to have fellow professionals booked and never talking about referees.
Both coaches would appear to be warming up the atmosphere for the big game itself, but the Catalan and Madrid press have been fuelling the fire with headlines such as today’s “Sport” front page which read, “May it be 11 vs 11″ another clear message in reference to the senior match official. Madrid daily “AS” led with “Fear of Madrid” in reference to Roura’s comments and change from the usual Barcelona tact in highlighting his concerns over the match referee.
The daily TV and Radio sports programmes only talk about the game, you wouldn’t believe there was another semi-final to be played this week in Seville.
The media focus is suffocating and all consuming. Spain will come to a standstill at 21.00 this evening for what the media builds up as the biggest show on Earth. We will all be waiting with bated breath for the referee to blow the whistle for the start of the game and for the spectacle to commence.
For 90 minutes the media will take a back seat and the two sides will be centre stage. At around 23.00 in Barcelona and Madrid every aspect of the game will be covered in infinite detail and late night talk shows will speak of nothing else.
One can only hope it is the football that is the main topic and these two giants of the game live up to the build up.