Copa Del Rey Final Preview: Barcelona vs Real Madrid
The two biggest Spanish giants clash again just three weeks after they produced one of the most thrilling El Clasicos ever.
Revenge is usually as important, if not more important, than the prize when these two giants meet. In this game, both sides have enough reasons to be fired up for a revenge mission.
Real Madrid will hope to avenge two La Liga losses, including the drama-packed 3-4 home loss last month. There were seven goals, three penalties and a red card to Sergio Ramos after Neymar made a meal of the faintest of touches from the Spanish defender. Real Madrid will be glad to have another go at their bitter rivals after that.
While the Catalan giants may have to look further backwards, their pain in the Copa Del Rey final at the hands of Los Blancos will be fresh. In 2011, Real Madrid won after Pedro Rodriguez’s goal was controversially disallowed.
Lionel Messi picked the ball in midfield and danced past several Real midfielders and defenders before passing to Pedro whose goal was ruled out for offside. Cristiano Ronaldo subsequently headed home deep into extra time to take the cup to Madrid.
The Catalans were gutted, with Messi brought down to tears, while the aftermath of the game had Ramos dropping the trophy under the team’s open top bus in wild celebrations.
Ronaldo looks set to miss a chance to tear another Barcelona Copa Del Rey dreams to shreds in the final because of a thigh injury. With important games like the Champions League semi-final clash against Bayern Munich looming, it wouldn’t be wise for Carlo Ancelotti to jeopardise Ronaldo’s health by rushing him back.
Marcelo is also a doubt with a hamstring injury, but Sergio Ramos should return after recovering from his neck injury. On Barcelona’s side, Carlos Puyol may return to defence because Marc Bartra (hamstring) and Gerard Pique (pelvis) are out.
Tata Martino is under immense pressure but his captain Puyol has jumped in the Argentine’s defence saying: “It’s always easier to attack one man (Martino) than 25 players. If things go right or wrong, it’s (down to) the team. We analyse things and try (to) find solutions. The solution in this case is Wednesday. It’s an important title against our biggest rival. Hopefully we can bring some joy to our fans after two disappointing results.”
Like Los Blancos, if the Catalan giants are going to “find solutions” on Wednesday, they may need to shift their focus from their usual talisman; Messi has fallen from his extra-terrestrial brilliance to a world class star while Ronaldo will have no influence in the game.
This game could therefore be a Neymer-Bale showdown; whoever steps up is likely to sway the result in his team’s favour.