And here we are at the 2nd leg of semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League. Tonight it’s the El - Clasico derby. Barcelona host Real Madrid in the last of the El Clasicos this summer. They have met thrice in a month now and this is their last meeting this season. Barcelona is 2-0 on aggregate thanks to 2 magic moments from Lionel Messi in Santiago Bernabeu. Tomorrow Manchester United hosts FC Schalke 04 where the red devils are also 2-0 on aggregate. Both the teams have won their away ties so only a miracle can now take the Galacticos and Schalke to the Wembley Final on 28th May’11.
There are very few people who don’t know that Real Madrid vs Barcelona match is termed as the El-Clasico derby. But by watching the 1st leg semi-final in Madrid, I would term it as Hell Clasico. Reckless tackles, diving, player acting and negative football was the ingredient of this Hell Clasico which was totally different to the fast pace football played in the El Clasicos of the past years. Jose Mourinho – “the Special One” played with a very defensive mind-set and wanted to come out from the match with a 0-0 score line. Their objective was almost fulfilled but a reckless tackle by Pepe at the hour mark made the match 10 vs 11. Pepe was man marking Messi before that and once he was sent off, Messi scored 2 goals and ended all hopes for Madrid to reach the final. I won’t blame Mourinho for those tactics. He has been successful over 2 legs against Barcelona with those tactics last year (With Inter Milan). Barcelona players, especially Pedro and Sergio Busquests were guilty of acting and they must have got an Oscar for their performances on the field. Even the referee performance was not to the mark of an El-Classico. He showed red card to Pepe on field, to Barcelona’s 2nd Goalkeeper Jose Pinto on bench and to the Real Madrid Coach Mourinho after he reacted to Pepe’s red card. Harsh words were spoken after the match against both the camps and UEFA has rejected all appeals from both the teams. I hope they get an experienced official for the 2nd leg tonight. But as things are standing, I see Barcelona going through this tie and on their route to Wembley on 28th May’11.
In the second semi-final, Red devils of Manchester, England are hosting FC Schalke from Germany. United had bad memories with German teams in the knock out phase of this competition but I can’t see them slipping away their 2 goal lead at Old Trafford. United have dropped points in the premier league and now they are only 3 points ahead of Chelsea who are visiting Old Trafford this Sunday. Chelsea tie will be playing in mind of Sir Alex Ferguson and he might get in changes early to save his players from injuries and fatigue. This might give a glimmer of hope to Schalke who will be looking for their 1st ever Champions league Final. And they have the all-time leading scorer of the Competition – Raul. United have 2 away goals in their belt and will be sitting back counter attack Schalke, whose defence look shaky in the 1st leg. It’s an easy tie on paper but Football is unpredictable. United are very close to overcome the fear and bad memories of German opponents. They played very well and outclassed Schalke in Germany and I cant see why they cant do the same at their home turf.
So I see a repeat of 2009 final – Manchester United vs Barcelona on the 28th May in Wembley. It will be huge for United as they will be playing in their own nation and a revenge for 2009 final will be in their mind. I hope we are treated with some beautiful football in this match as well as the 2 semi-finals tonight and tomorrow night. I am predicting another Hell Clasico tonight after what happened in last week. May the best team win.