Neutrals in Spain should be very glad indeed that Diego Simeone whips his 'team of men' into a frenzy because that means La Liga remains a three-horse race...
A week off for Atletico Madrid is like a week in the sun for anyone else, and with Real's confidence sky-high, this weekend's Madrid derby is shaping up to be a belter...
The heart-thumping, tummy-tickling news for right-thinking fans is that another Clasico clash is just hours away. The bad news is that only a mere six are possible this season, rather than the glut that we have feasted on over the past few years.
This is clearly a sorry situation, particularly given that La Liga's set-piece Clasico clashes have been cooking on gas mark 14 of late, rather than the nasty, undignified affairs of a couple years ago that stemmed from Jose Mourinho's approach of damage limitation, all provoked by the 5-0 demolition of 2010. After all, any occasion that has Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo on the same pitch at the same time is bound to be brilliant.
Since those days when Pepe was deployed as a pit bull and Cristiano Ronaldo was banned from crossing the halfway line, each clash has always had its own particular narrative. The Clasico is either another match of the century, a personal grudge contest between the team's respective managers or simply a snapshot of where either side are in their own personal timelines. The latter looks like being the theme for Saturday's game.
A 2-0 win over Malaga last weekend for Real Madrid, as well as a 2-1 victory against Juventus has seen a few frowns turned upside down in the Spanish capital ahead of the visit to the Camp Nou. If the match was being played seven days earlier, there would have been sleepless nights over the fixture, which would have seen a disjointed, fumbling Madrid taking on a calm, confident Barcelona with a 100% record in all competitions.
However, the two latest results for the league leaders have made the game appear to be fairly open affair. Barca looked a little sluggish a the midweek draw against both Milan, also dropped two points in Pamplona against Osasuna last weekend. This gives a glass half-full Madrid a chance of drawing level with their rivals with a victory, as opposed to being in danger of falling eight points away after a hefty defeat. "They are getting better every match," admitted Carles Puyol on Thursday in a press conference.
Recent league form in this fixture sees Barcelona with a less than 50% chance of winning the clash, with just four victories in the past 10 Clasico meetings. That said, a huge chunk of this rather surprising statistic for Barca was down to Jose Mourinho, who managed to build a team that had the confidence and ability to match Barcelona in their own home. Indeed, Barcelona have failed to overcome Real Madrid in the two league Camp Nou games after the epic defeat of November 2010, and the last meeting in Barca's back yard produced a 3-1 for Madrid in the Copa del Rey.
As the dearly departed Mourinho is involved with another top of the table battle in the Premier League this weekend, it is Carlo Ancelotti with the task of continuing a decent Camp Nou run for Madrid in the Catalan capital. Whilst confidence of a decent result is fairly high, Madrid supporters should be wary that the team's last two matches were against a Málaga side without the ability to threaten the back four and a Juventus reduced to ten men. The two victories potentially said more about the opposition than Madrid.
Although Barcelona may appear be in a lull, there is no reason why Tata Martino's side will not step things up considerably on Saturday and cause the visitor's wobbly back four all sorts of trouble.
The game could be a chance to see if Martino can teach Barcelona a few tricks, something the incoming coach has promised. Even Gerard Piqué admitted that sometimes Barça resemble a handball team, in its love or passing the ball sideways for hours on end, on the edge of the opposition box without making a cutting move.
Whilst the club's new Argentinean boss has spoken about testing out the odd long ball, the current Barcelona remains very similar to last season's, something that may work in Real Madrid's advantage considering that the Catalan club's spell on their rivals is now broken.
Perhaps the one defining feature of this particular Clásico is the fact that tactics, formation and starting XI selections are the main talking points. Saturday's game is a tough one to predict, which is why it is such a promising start to another campaign stuffed with Clásicos.
Tim Stannard - follow him on Twitter