Four games in 18 days. La Liga. Copa del Rey. Champions League. The home game with Osasuna breaks the run, almost ruining the poetry of it but I'll be glad of the break. I love and hate the clasico in equal measure. It really is the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Losing to Madrid is awful, gut wrenching, their bloated arrogance, their galling sense of entitlement, their preening, diving and whinging, they're like some fusion of the Yankees, Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars and the Republican Party.
And so the nxt two and a half weeks are going to be hellish. Marca. Mourinho. Valdano. Perez. All mouthing off. Each game bringing the prospect of defeat and never hearing the bloody end of it. You would think that with Barça playing the best futbol they've ever played, with them being eight points clear of Madrid, with Messi, Xavi, Iniesta in concert and absolutely unstoppable that I would be confident, even a little cocksure, going into this World Series run of games. Sadly I'm afflicted with a dreadful pessimism (or maybe it's just realism), in the back of my mind are European Cup losses to Steaua Bucuresti, Liga's thrown away to last minute draws against Betis and Espanyol, countless games where defeat is snatched from the jaws of victory. I don't revel in these games, I dread them.
That said, I was filled with confidence to hear of the return of Iron Man Carles Puyol, back after nearly four months of injury lay off. He's the glue that binds the defense together and his calmness and authority have been sorely lacking in his absence. No word on whether he'll start yet but it's not like they needed to rush him back for this game, I don't think they're doing an Arsenal. If he's in the squad then he's fit to play.