With the La Liga Clasico coming up in a few hours, Copa Del Rey final on April 20 and UEFA Champions League semis on 27th April and 3 May, the craziness has started! It would be hard to make any mentions besides that of Barcelona (and Real Madrid ofcourse) for the next 18 days. We cover the craziness before it all begins TONIGHT!

Press Conference

Aitor Karanka

The team has improved in many aspects. We’ve been working together a longer time, so the team knows itself better. We are in good physical form. We’ve used the time since the previous Clasico to grow and mature as a side.

We’re always a team above individual efforts. The final stretch of the season is truly thrilling given the number of titles at stake. Being at Real Madrid means you’re ready for anything, especially games like these.

We’ll have to wait to see how our men are tomorrow. We will use the best lineup to win the match and keep our options to winning the title alive. The three points at stake are what matters most right now and Real Madrid will try their best to take them from the start of the game. Tomorrow’s match is of greater importance because it is our next. One of the keys to our success is to focus on one game at a time.

Cristiano Ronaldo is the best player in the world and he always wants to score. He will score the following game if he fails to do so tomorrow. It doesn’t matter if he doesn’t do that either. He wants Real Madrid to win their games; scoring just makes it better.

Despite its greatness, Real Madrid haven’t been able to fight for three titles at this stage in the season for a long time. It’s logical for them to be in this situation given their history. We worked hard all year to be here right now.

We hear the opinion of Madridismo at the stadium every week and on the streets. Fans want Real Madrid to be where they now are. They don’t want their team to be eliminated from the Copa del Rey by Second Division B sides, nor do they want it to be eliminated from the Champions League in the Round of 16. They want a coach who works on a daily basis and proves he is 100% devoted to the club. They also want us to fight to win every title at the end of the campaign.

Pep Guardiola

(on four Clasicos in a small period) I’d like to speak to the manager from 1916 to know what you have to do in situations like these, because I’m not really sure.

We are in the situation where you can lose everything in just one week … you can never go to the Bernabéu thinking it wouldn’t matter if we didn’t win. it’s too important. We are playing for too much. We’re playing for the league and if we can get a good result it’s a giant’s stride towards the championship … I still get the feeling that if we want to win this league we’re going to have to win at the Bernabéu.

They are better than they were in the first half of the season. They have often been better than us … they are a very powerful, strong team. (But Barcelona) is one of the best in terms of positional play, because that’s the essence of this team.

Mou has the virtue of knowing how to play lots of different ways. We’ll have to be very attentive and learn to adapt (to beat Real Madrid).

(On Puyol’s inclusion) It was a nice surprise for us. He’s feeling no pain, he’s getting no trouble and there is nothing stopping him from moving.

Directors

Florentino Perez

We want you to feel at home to share a day like today, celebrating. It’s a game that draws attention in Spain and the rest of the world and destiny wanted us to play four games in 18 days, so the joy and happiness is even greater. I just want to enjoy. The satisfaction of being protagonists of these great events. The results will come later.

Football is very difficult to predict. Madrid is looking forward to these games, we believe we have great players and a great team. But what happens in first game itself that influences the other. You may have a change, a reaction or touch the morale of a team. But there is no precedent, so you have to enjoy.

I do not feel any tension there is enormous enthusiasm for the four games, it is fortunate for both teams because they draw the attention of the world. We demand from all over the world to come and see these games. We want to win by Use of fair play.

(On which of the four games was more important) I have the impression to win them all. I am not able to say what is most important.

Sandro Rosell

Four games in a row. We want the fans to enjoy. This is no less a game and the fair-play must prevail. Want to thank Real Madrid for the hospitality.

The feelings are very good, because we believe that the coach and the players have done their homework today. If we win the title would put the icing on the cake. We are very pleased to be here in these classics that so many people like we see and play.

I do not stress and if anyone sees it, I appeal to the fans to encourage your team with respect and not from the violence.

Lula Da Silva, Former Brazilian President

The Spanish people will live a moment of glory because four clasicos in nearly a month is unprecedented in history. There will be two of the best teams in the world. I cannot say I want one team to win or another but I think that Kaka may be important in the game and I hope that the Spanish public experience a great show.

Iker and Iniesta say Real Madrid will win and/or the game ends in a draw

Iker says it’d be a draw. Iniesta says Real Madrid will win. And Iker and Iniesta here are not the players but two octopuses in Benalmadena, Spain.

Iker didn’t eat either sardines bearing Real Madrid and Barcelona flags. Which is clearly a sign that its a draw (or the octopus was full that time!). Iniesta on the other hand, went straight for the Madrid flag bearing sardine.

This business of octopus prediction will continue with Mou and Pep if both Iker and Iniesta are wrong today (that is Barcelona win) .

I hope Iniesta is right. The octopus that is.

If all four clasicos are played back to back as 360 minutes!

A funny take on the upcoming Clasicos in the Mumbai Mirror by Deepak Narayanan. Goes in the same format as “If it continued…” on Dirty Tackle.

Lineups

Lineups as mentioned by AS and Marca:

Real Madrid
Keeper: Casillas
Defence: Ramos, Albiol, Carvalho, Marcelo
Midfield: Alonso, Khedira, Pepe
Attack: Ronaldo, Di Maria and Benzema

Barcelona
Keeper: Valdes
Defence: Maxwell, Busquets, Pique, Alves
Midfield: Iniesta, Xavi, Keita
Attack: Pedro, Messi and Villa

Interesting lineup for Real Madrid. No Ozil to start with. And Puyol after recovering to be included in the squad, doesn’t start.

Hope the game is great! Hala Madrid!

[Image via: Simply Futbol]