Nobody would believe that the ninth round of the la Liga could acquire such importance. The pressure was self imposed by Real Madrid in their desire to replicate the strength shown by Barcelona in capturing the Triplet last season, but with their eternal rival continuing their good form, their own match against Getafe will now carry with it a significance that no one can predict just two months ago, when the season starts, especially with the investment that they have made. By contrast, the Blaugrana’s difficult duel against Osasuna is an opportunity for them to reaffirm the lead they hold over everybody else.
Four months and €250 million after the start of the second ‘galacticos’ project, Real Madrid’s coach Manuel Pellegrini is facing the derby against Michel Gonzalez’s Getafe with “water up to his neck” (in deep trouble). The hammering received by the ‘merengue’ in the Copa del Rey against Alcorcón (4-0) has left the Chilean coach completely exposed.
Pellegrini is now openly questioned by everyone related with Real Madrid and the support he gets from his superiors is fickle at best. Clearly, a positive reaction from his team tonight would give him a lifeline, at least until the next match, against AC Milan at the San Siro in the Champions League.
The situation is so bizarre that Josep Guardiola, in a press conference from Barcelona, yesterday became his makeshift defender. Pep threw his backing for his ‘merengue’ counterpart by recalling his impeccable track record at Villarreal. “The Triplet is not won in October,” reminded the Santpedor-born coach.
Another misstep by Pellegrini this evening however, could create a crisis of unknown proportions at the club. Last season, Real barely managed to win against Getafe (3-2). Higuain’s winning goal kept alive the expectation Real Madrid have in the league, that is until two weeks later when the historical 2-6 ‘El Classico’ match diminished that hope.
The Blaugrana challenge, given its privileged position as the league’s sole leader, is no less attractive, for they could go to bed tonight with a six points advantage. To top that off, they would have known what has transpired at the Barnebeu when they enter the pitch at the Reyno de Navarra, having had their kick-off delayed by two hours.
Pep Guardiola, who always reminded his team to tackle one match at a time, has indicated that a win over Osasuna will consolidate their position at the top of the league, putting the team in a good psychological shape before their travel to Kazan.
The margin of error for Barcelona is far superior compared to its rival, that even if they are to lose tonight, they could still lead the pack through their better goal average, unless of course, Real is able to make up for the 4 goal difference, but the Pamplona is never an easy venue for any team.
The coach has confirmed that his players want to tackle the next six matches, in all competitions, with all their effort to ensure that they go into the next ‘El Classico’ in the best possible circumstance. The aim is to receive the ‘Galacticos’ at the Camp Nou on November 29 as an opportunity to confirm their top status in the league though everything begins with the match tonight in Pamplona.