It's been a long four months, give or take a day, since the last El Clasico between Barcelona and Real Madrid. I know it has been hard soccer fans to go so long without one of these storied match-ups, but fear not the wait is nearly over. In fact you're patience is being rewarded with two games in the coming week.
Now you might think I'm being sarcastic and somehow giving the Clasico a backhanded snarky swipe, but I'm not. I love these games, even the ones that are basically glorified friendlies like the Spanish Super Cup. Much like when the US and Mexico play, there's simply not such thing as a friendly when Los Blancos and the Blaugrana are involved. These are high quality Texas Death Matches that would make Cactus Jack and Terry Funk proud. Well, maybe Spanish Death Matches.
That's why I love El Clasico and that's why try as you might to pretend you don't care, you'll be watching ... or at the very least keeping an eye on the result.
These games are fun because the teams care, the fans care, everybody gets fired up when the two Spanish giants go toe-to-toe in a knockdown, drag out heavyweight tilt. Alright, I'll concede there's an argument that part of the magic of the Clasico is keeping them to somewhat of a minimum. As great as Celtic v Rangers is, when two rivals play too frequently during a season, it starts to dilute the charm of the event in casual fan's eyes. Of course Celtic v Rangers is about to be a rare match due to well documented financial issues, but it's still a good comparison.
The problem many people have is that during the past few seasons, the two teams been meeting in virtually every competition. The idea that this is a problem is of course silly, at least it is in my eyes, but I do understand the complaints. My response, just enjoy the ride.
Since the start of the 2010 season, Barca and Madrid have played 11 times. That's four league matches, three matches in the Copa del Rey (Final is not two-leg), two matches in the Spanish Super Cup and two matches in the Champions League. After next week, it'll be 13 times. By the end of the 2012/13 season, they'll have played at least 15 times in three seasons.
Even for a total aficionado of El Clasico like myself, that's a lot and I can sympathize if the more casual fan has gotten a level of tired head with this rivalry. Just a little bit of sympathy. Despite all the meetings, it's still fantastic sports theater. Anytime you combine two fierce rivals, meaningful games and Jose Mourinho, it's going to be must see television. More importantly, take a look at the numbers in those 11 matches.
Since the start of the 2010 season, Barcelona has beaten Madrid 5 times, Madrid has won twice and they've drawn four times. Barca also beat Madrid in the Champions League semifinals. That's not a great record overall and even with Los Blancos and Mourinho finally breaking through in the league last year, Jose has not exactly been tearing up Barcelona.
Want to go back a little further? Since the now departed Pep Guardiola took over Barcelona in 2007, Madrid never won back-to-back games against them. Madrid won the last meeting between the teams in April 2-1. So if nothing else perks your interest, you might see something that hasn't happen in five seasons if Madrid can defeat Barca.
This year offers a new spin as Tito Vilanova will now get to test his meddle against The Only One (recently upgraded from The Special One). Can the new Barca manager handle the pressure? Will Barca's relative dominance in recent years finally be broken? You see, there are story lines here, there are things to be excited about.
So if you are planning to ignore today's Spanish Super Cup first leg I suppose I can understand, but I still think you're missing out. The El Clasico is everything that's great about soccer, bottled up and presented to us on a regular basis. More often than not, these matches deliver in terms of on and off the field excitement. You simply never know what you might see.
Think of it like Thanksgiving dinner. Even when you think you're full, there's always a little more room for turkey or stuffing...if you're in to those of course. El Clasico is the same way, you might feel full, but it you focus, you'll find there's always room for a little more.
We'll have updates throughout the day and live coverage of the match in our Real Madrid vs. Barcelona, 2012 Spanish Super Cup StoryStream. For more on the Blaugrana, head over to FC Barcelona blog Barca Blaugranes. For more on Los Blancos, check out Real Madrid blog Managing Madrid. For more from around the world of football, follow @SBNationSoccer on twitter.