Barcelona's Camp Nou will give Real Madrid greater home comforts than Bernabeu boiler room in the
For Real Madrid, home is where the heartless is. And the harangued. Ask Cristiano Ronaldo. He apparently told his detractors to "go f*** themselves" last Sunday night.
On the Sabbath of all days. How beastly.
"F*** that", you might think. And Real Madrid's players might well concur with such industrial sentiment.
If Los Blancos were offered the benefits of the Santiago Bernabeu against Barcelona on Sunday night, would they truly want it? Would a Ronaldo whose malady continues to linger on with almost a quarter of 2015 gone be overly keen on home comforts after the recent crooked happenings at the old joint? In football terms, it feels like being offered the choice between a weekend in Benidorm or Guantanamo Bay.
From this vantage point, an angst-ridden Real Madrid should be happy to escape from the Bernabeu boiler room. Even if it means boot Camp.
Irony has never sounded so delicious. The Nou Camp should feel like a holiday camp in comparison to recent travails in their hurt locker. For Carlo Ancelotti's creaking side, this is a chance to get away from their torpor. Change is as good as a rest. Especially so when the natives are getting restless.
Ronaldo's goal ended Real Madrid's six-game winless run against Barcelona. A remarkable moment. pic.twitter.com/m1aMsJ02XZ— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) March 17, 2015"
The European champions dissected Barcelona 3-1 back in October, but that was before they lost James, Sergio Ramos and Luka Modric to injury. Karim Benzema's name was belted out after his contribution in the last Clasico. What a night that was. Changed days.
Madrid somehow survived a 4-3 defeat to Schalke at home last week in progressing 5-4 on aggregate to the quarter-finals of the Champions League, but they did not avoid derision. Cue widespread booing. Cue the waving of the white hankies. Cue the curious Real Madrid support's sense of entitlement that suggests just because they throw a lot of dinero to purchase days of wine and roses, their heroes should never come up short.
A 2-0 win over Levante on Sunday night did not do much to improve the mood of the fans. Gareth Bale scored a couple of times to end his perplexing run of nine games without a goal, but clasped his ears in a telling sign of his state of mind before the baying pack. At least he is not alone.
There are jazz trumpeters on the go who are better team players than CR7. He couldn't bring himself to celebrate Bale's goals as he struggles to decipher why he has not scored a goal since February. Or why his average goal to game ratio has dropped to 1.19 goals per game before Spain's winter break to 0.64 so far in football's annus horribilis.
He has basked in 30 Liga goals this season yet struggles for peace of mind. There is a fine line between professional dedication and pointless selfishness that Ronaldo has crossed.
His lack of self-awareness was obvious as he was subjected to more vitriol as he failed to net for another match against Levante. And the locals ain't whistling dixie. His response was muttering the Portuguese phrase "Fodanse" - (see the opening paragraph).
If ever there was a good time to get out of town for Ronaldo and his work colleagues, this is surely it. Even if team bonding does not seem natural to football's bold and beautiful.
The white hankies may still be out in force at the tapas bars around Madrid, but at least the players won't see them.
When Madrid trot out to around 100,000 Catalans, at least they will know who is booing, and why they are being booed. At least it won't be their own fans delivering the final denouement.
The wide open spaces of Barcelona's pitch should provide Bale and Ronaldo, men who are unlikely to go for a game of snooker together any time soon, with some breathing space after a fairly vexing few weeks going loco.
Or at least that is the theory. If Madrid fail to run into some of their old pre-Christmas form in Catalonia, this may well be a blood-curdling Sunday that provides an inevitable truth for Carlo, one all those corpses of Madrid coaches from technical areas past will swear by. With as much conviction as CR7.
Barcelona will move four points clear of the visiting side if Luis Enrique oversees a first win in the Clasico. The final whistle may well sound the final post for Ancelotti in his job. The weathered Italian tactician won't need to don white to become a living ghost.
As ridiculous as it sounds, even an 11th Champions League success in Berlin in May and no Liga may not prevent Carlo from being bladed by the ridiculous level of expectation that courses through the veins of president Florentino Perez and his clinical associates.
This is a club who once sacked Vicente del Bosque a day after he had coached them to a 29th Liga gong in 2003. They have more money than sense. They sack successful managers. There is normal time, and then there is the Real time in Madrid.
A manager's life is almost like a dog's life there. Every month goes by like a season, every hour a week, every second a drama of its own making. Somebody always seems to be plotting against someone else in Madrid's football politics. An outpost so dramatic that even the walking soap opera in a tracksuit that is Jose Mourinho could only see out three years despite a willingess to extend his contract until 2016.
Never is there a settled will of the people.
The mood is a changeable as Ronaldo's dress sense. It is no way for a coach to live, even if the compensation for Ancelotti will be substantial afterwards.
It is little wonder that Mourinho was apparently telling Perez he is happy in London, and has no plans to return to Madrid any time soon. Perez's response was a vote of confidence for Ancelotti. Will he repeat such sentiment if Madrid are burned like a nasty polyester suit on Sunday? Bernard Tapie sounded more believable when he was rampaging around Marseille a couple of a decades ago.
With a president who sports a cheque book like a badge of honour, Madrid look like a side struggling to satisfy a fanbase whose sense of entitlement is greater than their club's trophy haul.
It is a curious state to be in, when the fans are as overindulged as the players. Madrid's only answer would be to pluck a first Liga win at Barca since April, 2012. The return of Modric to prominence should provide Bale with some heart after the hollow.
Ron would love to add a "two-fingered salute" to his "fodanse" by ravaging the net on Sunday, perhaps more to the Real followers than Barca's, but there are portents of doom: Luiz Suarez, Lionel Messi and Neymar are not encountering the same telepathic problems as BBC. Messi's lauded rebirth coincides with Cristiano's fallow period. Too much of this makes CR7 an unhappy chap.
Madrid are 390 miles away from home on Sunday, but it might feel like from here to eternity. Going down in Barcelona remains infinitely preferable to losing in front of your home crowd.