Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Preview: Barcelona-Real Madrid--Will There Be Another Messi-style Breakout?

Hype kills. Just ask most of the Super Bowls and World Series'.

The same goes for football derbies. How often does Man. U.-Liverpool, Roma-Lazio, Inter-A.C., Boca-River or Sporting-Benfica live up to its billing. Not often, but when they do, that's what keeps us coming back.

Case in point: nine short months ago, Barcelona and Real Madrid clashed in what was arguably the game of the year. It was a 3-3 tie but no matter; it was legendary. And it was essentially the worldwide coming out party for Lionel Messi. The Argentine scored three times, each goal more flamboyant and elegant than the previous. This was tying with style and probably established La Liga as the best league in the world, top to bottom. And great players emerge in great games.

Like any other league, La Liga is top heavy, but nonetheless, a multitude of talent is attracted to Spain, and on Sunday, the world will be watching for a replay of the Barca-Real rivalry. Unfortunately, Messi is injured and will miss this game and be out for up to six weeks. Odds are, Sunday will not match the intensity and emotion of that day at Nou Camp, but here's hoping it gets close. Football--sports--is about the big teams, the big games and big performances.

Will there be another break-out performance? If there is, football derbies may just be winning the war against hype.

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