You can’t beat Barca v Real or Juve against Milan
Saturday’s El Clasico between Barcelona and Real Madrid and Sunday’s clash between Juventus and AC Milan both have real tradition and a zest which Europe’s nouveau riche clubs can only dream of.
The game at the Nou Camp has extra spice given it’s Juande Ramos’s first league game in charge of Real while in-form Barca can really surge ahead in the table with a win.
Juve v Milan is also a big game in terms of the standings. The two sides are joint-second and the winner will become the true rivals to leaders Inter Milan and their recent Serie A dominance. But it has not always been like this, prior to Inter’s three scudettos in a row it was nearly always Juve and Milan battling for the title in the last 20 years.
Juve v Inter is known as ‘the Derby of Italy’ but this week Rossoneri striker Andriy Shevchenko, who scored the winning penalty when Milan beat Juve in the 2003 Champions League final, said this fixture was the really big game in Serie A.
Another indication of the history between Barca-Real and Juve-Milan is the players on show. As Paul Virgo pointed out in a recent blog, these four sides are the home of the one-club player. Raul, Puyol, Xavi, Maldini and Del Piero really care about their clubs in ways players at other top European sides just don’t.
(By the way Barca’s Xavi and Lionel Messi and Milan’s Kaka have just been named among the nominees for FIFA’s world player of the year. Wouldn’t it make sense for one of them to win rather than give Ballon d’Or victor Cristiano Ronaldo another prize?)
So what’s the verdict for the weekend? I reckon 1-1 in both matches but you just never know with these four…
PHOTO: AC Milan’s Andriy Shevchenko (L) challenges Fabio Cannavaro of Juventus during their match at the San Siro, August 14, 2005. REUTERS/Daniele La Monaca