Real Madrid President Florentino Pérez and FC Barcelona chief Sandro Rosell met each other for a ceremonial photo-op today at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu in Madrid, and also found time to play another round of the traditional "let's out-jinx each other, and do our best to heap all the pressure on the other team" game. While both sides played strong hands, neither can be conclusively given the mantle of "best reverse-jinxer of all time," as they both favored more conventional approaches.
Rosell, for his part, decided to take Real Madrid head on, immediately branding them "favorites": "The Liga table, the stats, and the stadium all make Real Madrid favorites tonight. Our goal is to break all the statistics." Interesting play, going right for the jugular by implementing a classic political tactic: lowering expectations. Now, even if Barça get a draw, he'll be able to say, "Hey! We drew against a heavily favored opponent. Well done!" Strong play.
Florentino decided to take a slightly different approach, taking away the importance of the game for both sides: "At this stage in the season, I think that whatever happens, nothing will be over. Sure, it will be very important for the Liga, and for both teams, and we'll put on a good show. But I promise, at this point in the season--before the end of the first half of the season--nothing is transcendental." The beauty in this response is that while it heaps pressure off Real Madrid, it actually subliminally ads pressure to Barcelona, by reminding them that, sure, they'll have time to come back, but man, they'd better get a move on.
In all seriousness, the event seemed rather cordial (as far as I can tell). The two men may not love each other, but they certainly don't despise each other, as has been the custom in recent years. Good to see some civility before such a trying match.
We'll have live coverage of El Clasico from just before 4:00 p.m. ET, when lineups are released. For more on the two teams, head over to Real Madrid blog Managing Madrid and FC Barcelona blog Barca Blaugranes. Check out SB Nation Soccer and our El Clasico StoryStream for more in the build-up to the game. For more from around the world of football, follow @SBNationSoccer on twitter.