Real Madrid v Barcelona preview: Nothing but victory on the minds of Mourinho's men
Real Madrid coach José Mourinho has a number of difficult selection decisions to make ahead of tonight’s Clasico against Barcelona at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu.
Madrid are in tremendous attacking form - with 15 consecutive wins - however Mourinho knows a draw would suit his team as they currently sit three points ahead of their title rivals, with a game in hand.
The cautious former Chelsea and Inter coach may, therefore, keep back attacking playmakers Mesut Özil and Kaká, and stiffen his midfield by playing Xabi Alonso, Lass Diarra and Sami Khedria as three deep lying midfielders (trivote in Spanish), or as the Portuguese prefers to call it “a high pressure triangle”.
This plan seems likely, even though Mourinho’s deputy Aitor Karanka - given the media duties yesterday with Mourinho keeping a low profile – told reporters that Madrid would look to attack and win the game tonight.
“We have designed our tactics to win,” said Karanka. “We will use a 4-3-3 system, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Ángel Di María down the wings and Karim Benzema or Gonzalo Higuaín as our centre-forward. We have many options in midfield and we will go all out for the game."
Karanka said Madrid’s significant lead in the table had not figured in their tactical preparation for the game. “We prepare the same way for every match and they are all difficult,” he said.
“Our players are increasingly confident and, whatever happens, three points will be at stake. Whatever happens, the balance we have will not change.”
Neither was Barcelona’s possible approach to the game a worry for Mourinho’s coaching team, Karanka said. “We are aware of the possibilities. They could use three defenders, a diamond shape in midfield or three strikers,” he said. “We know all the systems Barça may use but we are only concerned about focusing on our own team.”