Legends lunch

Our three wise men look at the importance of Saturday's game

Last Updated: 09/12/11 11:07am

If there are three men who know all about the fervent atmosphere and must-win nature of a Clasico, it's John Toshack, Albert Ferrer and Michael Laudrup.

Real Madrid v Barcelona

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The trio played or managed in a combined total of 46 Real Madrid-Barcelona matches during their careers and between them collected 15 trophies with the Spanish greats.

Ahead of the huge top-of-the-table clash this Saturday at the Bernabeu - which you can see live on Sky Sports - they joined Revista's Guillem Balague in a swanky Barcelona bar.

With Guillem firing the questions, the boys discussed the pressures of a Clasico, current managers Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola, and where this weekend's contest may be won and lost, plus, they also shared lots of anecdotes and memories.

See below for a special extended three-part version of the legends lunch, only available to view online...

STARTER - How do you prepare for a Clasico? What's the atmosphere like amongst the fans and the team? What impact does the media interest have on the teams?

MAIN - The boys turn their attentions to this Saturday's fixture and look at the influence of the two coaches. What will Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho be thinking?

COFFEE - Our experts give their tactical verdict on how they think the teams will line up and what the score will be in Saturday's big one.

Feel like an appetiser? Here's a glimpse at what our trio had to say...

On Real's improvement...

ML: I have been impressed by the mental work that Madrid have done. In the last few years they have lost 5-0 in the Camp Nou and 6-2 at the Bernabeu. They have improved over the last four or five months.

AF: I think Real Madrid can go for the game against Barcelona. They have a big possibility to win it. Barcelona are having problems, Madrid are getting stronger. They are defending better and they are sometimes playing like Barcelona, while Xabi Alonso controls the game. Back then (in Real's previous defeats to Barcelona) it wasn't like that.

On Jose Mourinho...

ML: Real have taken a gamble, not in the way that they don't know Mourinho - he has won everything with another team - but they took the biggest name manager in the world and said: 'He has to win with us so we have to give him the power'. He has an influence whereas some coaches are unlucky and don't have an influence.

JT: The only person that should sign players is the one that works with them every day. He knows he can push the line out. With his reputation and the club not winning anything for four or five years and having had four or five coaches, he knows he's got a bit of leeway and he's used it very well.

On Pep Guardiola...

AF: He has kept the philosophy that he had as a player in terms of keeping the ball and taking the rhythm of the game. But he has worked hard in aspects like tactics, defensive situations and pressing.

On having to perform in El Clasico...

JT: It's one game that can do more psychologically than any other game in any other league that I've experienced. You can lose more than just the game. You can lose self-confidence. Everyone is watching and even your fans say: 'How can we play like that?'

ML: In Italy, it's only the result. You win 1-0 - perfect. In Spain, especially if you are one of the two greats, it's okay winning, it's the most important thing. But there are other things - the style and how you do it.

On Saturday's game...

JT: I don't think Mourinho will go into this game in the Bernabeu without any frontmen and I think that Sergio Ramos playing alongside Pepe instead of Ricardo Carvalho will mean that he'll feel a lot more comfortable further forward. If they are vulnerable, I think it's in the full-back positions. I don't think Marcelo is a good defender by any means.

AF: I would expect Guardiola to put two wingers in - maybe Pedro and David Villa. He's going to play with width.

ML: Barcelona may play a back four but one of the four is Dani Alves and I don't consider him a right-back; he's doing everything out there! Pepe and Sergio Ramos are very fast but I'm sure Lionel Messi will play the false nine, so they won't have anyone to mark.