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El Clasico 2012: Why Barcelona could attempt to play negative football for once

January 24, 2012 By Isaac Asante
Barcelona have so often criticized negative football in the past; but they could actually survive against Real Madrid in 2012’s second Clasico by using this technique.
Negative football is what Jose Mourinho used against Barcelona at the Camp Nou during his time at Inter Milan. Although Pep Guardiola made reasonable efforts to exhibit his expertise in attacking football, he happened to be denied by the defensive walls of the former Chelsea manager.

Upset with the technique used by the Special One, Los Cules heavily condemned the Milanese - indirectly vowing never to adopt this style. Despite the tensions around the issue of tactics however, Mourinho boldly went on to use his stabbing negative method again in a few other encounters he had with Barcelona later on. But never did he do so without receiving affronts from his anti-fans.

Well, inversely, negative football is what could save Barca on Wednesday night in El Clasico of the Copa del Rey quarter-finals. Yet probably, no Blaugrana would agree on this point - neither on first thought, nor on second thought.

But some ideas are more verities than simple suggestions or opinions, and the idea of Barcelona employing a negative style to defend their first-leg advantage is plainly justifiable. With a dramatic 2-1 victory away from home on January 18, it would make sense for Pep Guardiola to aim for the preservation of his advantage.

Obviously, the best way to achieve such an objective would be to ensure that the opposition has no chance of getting control over the situation and changing things. On the field, this solution would translate itself as the appliance of a negative technique that would prevent Real Madrid from finding the net.

Without doubt, this plan could have nothing less than a satisfying result if carried out faultlessly. But what do Barca fans really want? The club’s desire is apparently no different, and we are aware that disguising themselves under a different style is not something the Catalans would ever do for the sake of winning.

For Guardiola, doing so would even bring them nothing but utter destruction. He was quoted saying on the club’s official website: “If we try to defend the result from the first leg, they will beat us. If we want to make the semi-finals, (then) we will have to play another great match.”

Perform, impress and attack are definitely orders each player will be giving himself ahead of the 90-minute test against Los Blancos in El Clasico. Danger can however be expected, and this is a valid reason for Barcelona to fight with all their might.

Guardiola declared: “I have a feeling Real Madrid are going to get a goal at the Camp Nou, and so we are going to have to try to get one too”.

Indeed a 1-1 draw would be more than enough for Barcelona to go through the next stage of the Copa del Rey. But a question arises: “Will Real Madrid allow Barca to attack if they ever score a goal?”

The Catalans have been behind first in both Clasicos so far this season… It is clear that allowing Madrid to take another vital lead on Wednesday night would brutally affect the Club World Cup winners’ chances of reaching the semis.

Barcelona’s defence will thus have to be tight this time around throughout the game. Is this possible though without a negative style? How will they maintain a good balance in all areas without showing any sign of weakness? All will be revealed and confirmed after El Clasico showdown at the Camp Nou, when Barca and Real Madrid clash together for the second time in seven days.

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