What: Spanish Copa del Rey (semi-final second leg)
Who: Barcelona (1) vs Real Madrid (1) (first leg score in brackets)
When: Tuesday 26th February, 2013, at 20:00 UK Time
Where: Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain
Under the microscope on Saturday night following a below-par performance against AC Milan in midweek Champions League action, Barcelona fans expected a reaction from their team against Sevilla. Luckily for them, they got what they wanted as their side defeated the Andalucians at the Camp Nou. Now they welcome Real Madrid knowing that a meeting against either Atletico Madrid or Sevilla awaits should they emerge triumphant over Los Blancos.
Barcelona found themselves on the back foot against Sevilla, but managed to win the game 2-1 ahead of their encounter with Real Madrid. However, they need to focus now on their upcoming cup match as their fate in the competition hangs in the balance, as assistant manager Jordi Roura said after the Sevilla game. “Clasicos are always important, but there’s no doubt that the one this Tuesday is decisive in the cup and the one on Saturday isn’t, because we have more league games that come after. Therefore, the one on Tuesday is more important.”
Barcelona are unbeaten in their last 16 Copa del Rey games, but could find things hard against Real Madrid, even at the Camp Nou, as they have won once in the last six encounters between the two sides. And with Iker Casillas missing this one as he continues to nurse his broken hand, the team will need to prey upon Real Madrid’s defensive problems.
It Comes Down To This
Real Madrid’s entire domestic season comes down to these 90 minutes of football: With the league a lost cause as they trail leaders Barcelona by 16 points, they have the chance to upset their perennial foes and come back home from the Camp Nou with a qualification ticket to the Copa del Rey final. Needless to say, a win against Barcelona will provide them with the necessary boost to tackle their upcoming Champions League match against Manchester United at Old Trafford, another competition they are heavily relying upon to save their season.
Similarly to Barcelona, Real Madrid too fell behind at the weekend, against Deportivo La Coruna at the Riazor, before making a comeback and winning the game 2-1. While their away form last season was instrumental to their league triumph, they have failed to fire on the road more often than not, winning just six of their 13 away games so far.
However, Real Madrid’s entire campaign comes down to their upcoming games, ones they will be ready to tackle, according to striker Gonzalo Higuain. “The most important thing is to win and to keep earning points and now we have to prepare for the match on Tuesday. We are excited and we want to play because we know that in a week we are playing to stay in the Copa del Rey and the Champions League.”
Granada 1-2 Barcelona (16/02; La Liga)
AC Milan 2-0 Barcelona (20/02; Champions League)
Barcelona 2-1 Sevilla (23/02; La Liga)
Real Madrid 1-1 Manchester United (13/02; Champions League)
Real Madrid 2-0 Rayo Vallecano (17/02; La Liga)
Deportivo La Coruna 1-2 Real Madrid (23/02; La Liga)
Real Madrid: Karim Benzema (doubt); Iker Casillas; Raphael Varane (doubt)
Players to watch
Barcelona – Lionel Messi: The forward scored the winner against Sevilla, raising his league tally to 38 La Liga goals. His is one strike shy of reaching Alfredo di Stefano’s record of 18 Clasico goals, a tally that could very well be hit and even broken on the night.
Real Madrid – Cristiano Ronaldo: The Portugal captain has scored in five out of the last six Clasicos. He has become an integral figure in this much-hyped match and will need to be at his best should his side want to qualify for the final.
Real Madrid need to win this game more than Barcelona, but that will not be easy at the Camp Nou. Los Blancos have played better football against Barcelona recently, but might feel the absences of possibly Benzema, and definitely Casillas and Varane. However, they are not shy of scoring at the Camp Nou, as they have scored at least twice in their last five away games against the Blaugrana. This could earn them a precious qualification ticket. Barcelona 2-2 Real Madrid, with Real Madrid to go through on away goals.
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