Copa del Ray Preview: Clash Of The Titans

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lorenzo bernardi

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  • Copa del Ray Preview: Clash Of The Titans

Copa del Ray Preview: Clash Of The Titans

At the beginning of this season, Barcelona had a considerable advantage over their archrivals Real Madrid. In their first meeting at the end of November last year, Barcelona scored five against their archrivals at Camp Nou. However, as Madrid players adapted to their system over the season, the gap has been narrowed down considerably. Therefore, in the last meeting between two teams on the last weekend, there was a stalemate as both teams converted from penalty spot to draw the match at Santiago Bernabeu.

However, the battle does not end here and both the clubs are preparing for three more battles. The two legs of Champions League semi-final will start from next week, while the Copa del Ray final is on the horizon. Now, this is the opportunity where the two teams will definitely play for the position of being the best Spanish side. Both have worked hard throughout the season and now is the time to get their hands on one of the three silverwares.

Real Madrid does not have a good history in Copa del Ray, while Barcelona is the most successful club in this regard. It is a trophy long overdue at Madrid as the last one came way back in 1993. Barcelona, however, is not unfamiliar with the tournament as they last won it in Pep Guardiola’s first season as in charge. Both these teams have only met five times before in the tournament, with Barcelona edging Madrid by 3-2. The last meeting was in 1990 where Barcelona beat Madrid by 2-0. This victory also marked the end of Madrid’s domination in the 80s. This time, the situation is reversed and Madrid would be hoping for a memorable victory over their more successful rivals.

In the last meeting, Jose Mourinho adopted a totally different approach, rather unknown to Madrid supporters. Mesut Ozil, one of the most creative players in the team, was left on the bench. Pepe was pushed up in the midfield to keep a check on Lionel Messi, while Xabi Alonso and Sami Khedira were entrusted with the duties of countering Xavi and Andres Iniesta. This looked like a complete wastage of talent but a draw proved that it was the only way to contain the mighty Catalans. The success of this approach means that Mourinho will once again go in the final with defensive mentality.

However, this time he will be without his centre-half, Raul Albiol, who saw a red card in the last match. This means that Pepe will have to play in his original position and Lassana Diarra might get a chance to start the game. Also, Karim Benzema had a poor game while Emmanuel Adebayor did get into dangerous positions. Therefore, this will be a change that Mourinho might think about before starting the next game.

The key player for Barcelona will be Lionel Messi who was kept quite in the last match. However, the Argentinean maestro did create spaces and started to look threatening towards the end of the game, as Pepe was pushed back into the defence. In the final, Messi will be the key to Barcelona’s success and he will have to find the rhythm to get his side to victory. David Villa is not playing well at the moment, and Messi will have to make up for the deficiency, as he did in the beginning of this season.

Real Madrid will mainly rely on Cristiano Ronaldo for their attack but Adebayor will play a major role in his side’s success. The African striker is a key to holding ball deep inside Barcelona territory, which will be Mourinho’s main plan. In the end, it will come to the two managers and their preparations for the game, because in terms of quality there is not much of difference between two sides. The victory to any side is important in the sense that it would also give them a slight psychological advantage before the upcoming Champions League battle.

 

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