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Soccer

To State the Obvious: Real Madrid Should Try to Win El Clásico

“A free man,” Franz Kafka once wrote, “Sancho Panza philosophically followed Don Quixote on his crusades, perhaps out of a sense of responsibility, and had of them a great and edifying entertainment to the end of his days.”

Such is the life of contemporary Real Madrid supporter. Not even taking into account the geographical proximity to La Mancha, Madrileños face a task all-too-familiar to Sancho: following a knight-errant (Cristiano Ronaldo) into a battle with mythical and magical giants (Messi et alia). And like Sancho, they should willingly—albeit cautiously, as Sancho would—support such tilting at windmills; Real Madrid should go for the win tomorrow, as crazy as that may sound.

Yes, a draw keeps their cushion intact with only four (winnable) games remaining. But if they do escape the Nou with a draw and then coast to the title, what kind of season will it have been without a win against Barcelona?

I’d like to think that Mourinho’s Madrid is different than those of previous years. I’d like to think that the current incarnation is more of a team, and less of a collection of nostalgic superstars. I’d like to think that this is a team that can Always Be Closing.

Besides, what better way to put away the league title than to take out one’s most powerful competitor? In my mind, the whole season comes down to tomorrow’s Clásico, regardless of the remainder. In that sense, it should be played like a final, i.e. played to be won, not drawn.

Watching a game, especially en vivo, is supposed to be like going to the teatro; one should be awed by the pageantry, drama, and delight of the whole grand spectacle, played out in two acts. One should walk away feeling inspired. Madrid has always been a team that aspired to be entertaining as well as effective. A reserved defensive strategy may be the latter (may be) but is certainly not the former.

I’d rather see Madrid go down trying to score a bunch of goals at the Nou than pack the box and still have Xavi and Iniesta thread the needle for a soul-crushing chip-shot goal, which is what almost certainly will happen. Or Messi will dribble through eight players and score while Ronaldo watches with arms folded. Might as well play to your strengths, I say, and go for an old-fashioned shootout. Make a game of it. Make it a game to remember.

In short, while running the risk of sounding trite, go big or go home. (Pretty trite, innit it?)

Wanna watch the game tomorrow at Fado with me? Let me know on twitter @ExPedeHerculem. Oh, and if you show up, wear white.