Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Coach Juan Cutillas and I wager on who will win El Clasico


During lunch at Sentro at Greenbelt 3 last week with Coach Juan Cutillas, we spoke about the upcoming El Clasico and based on that, we had a friendly wager. Coach believes that Barcelona will win while I feel that Real Madrid will have what it takes to beat the Blaugrana on their home pitch. No, I am not on crack. But it is a friendly wager and the stuff that makes sports discussions and debates really cool. The winner by the way gets a free lunch somewhere in Greenbelt 3.

This will be the 164th La Liga match between the two football giants (not counting other tournaments). Madrid leads the count with 68 wins while Barcelona has 64 Ws. There have been 31 draws between them. We all know of Barcelona’s recent dominance but nevertheless, this is our take on this El Clasico.

Juan Cutillas on why Barcelona will win:
I believe that Barcelona will win because of three reasons:
1) Their control of the midfield. Barcelona has the best midfield in the world with Xavi, Sergio Busquets, and Andres Iniesta. The possession game that they play is key to their success. That control will break the pace of Real Madrid. That leaves them to pounce on the mistakes of Madrid where they can quickly turn into a lightning counter.

2) They play at home at Camp Nou. That is 96,000 people who scream for the success of their team. That is 96,000 people who are fueled by an ideal and what Catalunya stands for. That is very intimidating for any opposing team to enter Camp Nou. And Barcelona plays exceptionally well when they are at home. 

3) Barcelona has the best player in the world in Lionel Messi. There is nothing he cannot do. Cristiano Ronaldo is an incredible football player but Messi is better than him. The results show why this is true.

Those are my two main reasons. But I also believe that Barcelona is playing for pride. They will try to continue their championship run. Although I believe that Barcelona is susceptible to the corner shot, they will play just fine.

Madrid will try to intimidate them with their physical play. They will use the refs and Sergio Ramos, Marcelo, and Pepe are butchers who will be very rough. The worst that could happen for Barcelona is that they will have a draw against Real Madrid.

Rick Olivares on why Real Madrid will do the impossible and steal one from Barcelona:
For sure Madrid have their collective backs on the wall heading into this match and they are playing for their footballing lives.

They lost a 10-point lead in the La Liga and they were beaten 2-1 in UCL play by Bayern Munich in which the German team dominated large tracks of the match. I wondered if Los Merengues actually held back a bit knowing El Clasico was a few days away as Raul Albiol, Higuain, and Marcelo were listed as subs. Luckily for them it is a slim loss as they will be headed back to the Bernabeu for the next encounter with Munich.

In the five fixtures before their first round encounter in La Liga, Madrid won all consecutive matches (including one in the UCL). Even if they were feeling good to be playing at home, Barca won 3-1 in the Bernabeu.

This second league meeting finds Jose Mourinho’s team scrapping for wins in the dog days of the season. Unlike the first round, this time they are 3-1-1 with the most recent match being the loss to Bayern.

So am I making a case for Barcelona winning? Sure sounds like it.

However, Madrid will win if – I will repeat – if………..

1) They play the perfect game of their lives. The perfect game that will determine Mourinho’s future in Spain and the Spanish club and the title for this season.

The last time Madrid won in Camp Nou was during the 2007-08 season when they swept the El Clasico series with players like Arjen Robben, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Julio Baptista, Roberto Soldado, Gabriel Heinze, and Raul. They did win La Liga, their last until Barcelona went on this stirring run of titles under Josep Guardiola. The only players left from that time are Pepe, Marcelo, Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Ramos, and Iker Casillas.

Hopefully (and that is the operative word), they will have learned from all these recent matches to Barca. They have played the Blaugrana rough with a defensive-oriented 4-2-3-1 formation and have been found wanting. They have no choice but to make it work. They tried to attack in the last three El Clasicos and have been murdered for it. In the opening minutes of this match-up when both clubs try to get a feel of each other, Madrid has to establish their game and make Barcelona work and play a little more defensively.

In the last three times Madrid has visited Camp Nou, they were blanked. To be able to score especially in the first half will mean much to their chances of winning. This is the test for Madrid. To be the champ you have to beat the champ in their home field.

I know this sounds crazy in the face of history and facts but all I can say is for Madrid to win not just La Liga but also the UCL, they have to play the perfect game. The string of recent loses will create some fear and that keeps them on their toes. No smugness. No overconfidence. After all, they really haven’t proven much against Barcelona. If not make their stand now, I do not seeing them beat Barcelona for the next few seasons. This game will decide La Liga and the UCL titles for sure.

2) Mourinho plays his best back four. A unit that has oft played together and that is Pepe, Marcelo, Alvaro Albeloa, and Sergio Ramos. You need a back four that is familiar with one another and communicates well to deal with Barcelona. Pepe will have to play with a clear head and focus. His tenacity and relentless brand of football is what is needed to disrupt the tiki taka style of play. He can also mark Messi better than others. Although that is never easy. I know that Marcelo has not played well against Barcelona so Mourino might consider Fabio Coentrao. But he has not been playing well so Marcelo has to be like everyone else at his best.

3) Kaka, Xabi Alonso, and Mesut Ozil are able to track back and feed their forwards. They have to be precise and spot on with their playmaking while finding Angel di Maria, Karim Benzema, and Cristiano Ronaldo the ball. The three have the speed to beat Barcelona’s defenders like Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique. If Madrid draws first blood in Camp Nou (and that is not easy) that will be a huge boost for Mourinho's side.


Please write your comments and take on the upcoming El Clasico in the section below the post. Thanks!


  1. hey rick what do you think will win if CR7 and Messi swap teams?

  2. am confident that barca will win this one...the most that Real can get on this classico is a single point.
    the champions league trophy as well will go barca's cabinet, no matter who's on the way... Real or Beyern at their home turf.

  3. Eat your heart out Barca Fans we know its really difficult to swallow a loss.... Hala Madrid...