'El Clasico' still reigns supreme
With that in mind, fans new to watching this one might keep an early eye on the Germans Sami Khedira and Mesut Ozil, two of Mourinho's key additions at Real Madrid. They've been in big ones before, but perhaps nothing quite like this.
Barcelona's Villa is another superstar taking his first step onto the field in this derby. A star at Valencia, he's faced Real Madrid plenty of times, but never with the weight of Catalonia on his back.
The atmosphere and the match produce heroes -- but even the best can be crushed by the expectations. If anything, the intensity of this rivalry is such that the match often fails to produce the expected artistry because neither team can settle in what is a scalding atmosphere.
Finally, the facts:
-- When they kick off Monday, Real Madrid will have 32 points, one more than Barcelona. Both are pulling clear in what looks like becoming a straight two-team fight for La Liga.
-- Both played Champions League matches in midweek and both are through to the next round with a game to spare.
--Real Madrid enters with a whiff of controversy about them, with Mourinho and four of his players being charged by UEFA with “unsporting behavior,” for ordering two of his players to intentionally collect yellow cards on Tuesday -- thus avoiding a suspension in a key second-round Champions League game.
-- No matter what happens Monday this is only match 13 of a 38-game La Liga slog. No title will be settled Monday.
Jamie Trecker is a senior writer for FoxSoccer.com covering European football.