It Ain't Real-Barça, but Concafinal Meaty Just the Same

While the whole world awaits the next installment of the Barcelona – Real Madrid, here in our little corner of the world, an epic battle is brewing. More about that in minute.

I am still trying to wrap my head around the whole 4 games in 18 days thing. Rivalry games define sports calendars all over the world in just about every discipline. As big as those get, nothing, though, is bigger than the mother of all super clásicos.

We get Texas-OU here in October, and that one game has more than enough drama to fill one’s emotional coffers for a good year, win or lose. I couldn’t even imagine what it would be like to have that game 3 more times in 6 games, which is what our Spanish amigos are fixin’ to do.

It seems only fitting that the stakes get higher for the next fixture. Go long on any pharmaceutical that specializes in regulating high blood pressure.

I haven’t been around that long, but if I were forced to name the three best teams I have ever seen, I would list this current incarnation of the Blaugranas, AC Milan from the late 80’s, and Brasil82. Truth be told, it was much harder back then to see Milan games, but every morsel was a treasure. SI.com’s Jonathan Wilson has an excellent write-up comparing the two clubs. And Brasil82? Well, they gave me a generous helping of the beautiful game when I was most impressionable, so they set a standard in my mind that few have reached.

So… after the world watches Blaugrana-Merengue II, we’ll have our own plato fuerte to dig into later that night. Two very good teams are matched up in the Conca-finals.

Maybe some folks will notice.

So far, the build up to the game has been relegated to the “other news” sections of most websites, and that includes some of the footy-specific portals.

What is there not to like about this game?

On one side there is Monterrey. For years they were the poster child for overpaying and under delivering. A ravenous fan base suffered through season after season of mediocrity. All that money, all those star players, yet Monterrey only tallied 2 league championships in nearly 50 years of top flight play. Monterrey’s fortunes changed with the arrival of Humberto Suazo and their coach Victor Manuel Vucetich. Rayados have since doubled their trophy output and have become one Mexican futbol’s most consistent teams.

Real Salt Lake may not have won MLS cup last year, but hard to argue against the fact that they are the league’s deepest and most complete team. Their home unbeaten run is one of the world soccer’s longest (if not the longest thanks to Shakhtar’s recent loss), and anyone who thinks that they will not give Monterrey a game just hasn’t been paying attention. Salt Lake has Monterrey’s full attention, and vice-versa. They both know winning won’t be easy at all.

There is no denying that Salt Lake had a more accessible bracket, but all they could do was beat the teams in front of them. Which is exactly what they did. Same with Monterrey. It doesn’t change the fact that these are the best teams from the two best leagues in Concacaf.

How can we not get excited about that?

Granted, it ain’t no Real-Barça. But, then again, nothing is. Not even (gasp) Texas-OU.