Though FC Barcelona and Real Madrid CF have played several times this season, only one match has been played at Camp Nou. After Barcelona’s thrilling win away in the Santiago Bernabéu coupled with the big 4-1 win over Málaga CF in the league, the blaugrana should easily be able to carry that momentum into the home second leg of the Copa del Rey quarterfinals.
The 2-1 first leg saw defenders Carles Puyol (33) and Éric Abidal (32) score as well as Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo. This means that Barcelona has a two away goal lead going into the return leg at home. To win, all Barcelona needs to do is tie, win or lose 1-0. However, if Madrid wins by scoring two goals or more, it will go through on away goals or aggregate. A 1-2 score line would see extra time and penalties.
Madrid is also coming off a similar 4-1 La Liga win against Athletic Bilbao, a team that many thought may have been the most likely for Madrid to drop points against. However, an above average amount of penalties destroyed any hopes of that nature.
Camp Nou has been the scene for many wonderful triumphs over the white rivals from Madrid. The home crowd will undoubtedly welcome them back with an atmosphere that can only be generated in Barcelona and another exhilarating game should be at
Barcelona B players Isaac Cuenca (20), Jonathan Dos Santos (21), and Sergi Roberto (19) will join nearly all first team members except long-term injured David Villa (30), Ibrahim Afellay (25), and Andreu Fontàs (22) in head coach Pep Guardiola’s squad list. Malian midfielder Seydou Keita (32) will also continue his absence as he competes with his national team in the African Cup of Nations.
Key players like Xavi (31) and Carles Puyol (31) were rested during the weekend’s La Liga fixture against Málaga CF and should be primed to produce another dominate display at Camp Nou. The game is extra special for the team’s maestro as it is his 32nd birthday! José Manuel Pinto (36), fresh off of his contract renewal, will also again take his place in goal as Barcelona’s first-choice Copa del Rey goalkeeper. The lineup should look very similar to that of the first leg, as those starters seem to be the players Guardiola fields together for the important matches.
FC Barcelona Predicted Starting XI: Pinto, Alves, Piqué, Puyol, Abidal, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Cesc, Messi, and Alexis.
Real Madrid CF
Pepe is injured and will most likely not play in the return leg. Though some suspect that head coach José Mourinho may have left him out of the weekend’s La Liga match against Athletic Bilbao as well as the upcoming game against Barcelona due to his poor sportsmanship exhibited in the first leg, an injury is the more feasible reality. Sergio Ramos, Lassana Diarra, and Esteban Granero all did not train with the team most recently. However, Ramos and Diarra are expected to make the match squad as Ramos has dealt with his personal problems that prevented him from attending practice and Diarra’s injury is not too serious.
Sami Khedira will also return after a month out with an ankle injury. Álvaro Arbeloa’s suspension has been served, so expect to see him included in Mourinho’s plans.
Mourinho chose a slightly surprising lineup last time, and it is uncertain if he will maintain his choices or revamp the first eleven. Heading into this match two away goals down will be a hard battle for Madrid, but Mourinho does not seem like a coach who would make drastic changes under the threat of an arch-rival.
Real Madrid CF Predicted Starting XI: Casillas, Ramos, Arbeloa, Ricardo Carvalho, Marcelo, Xabi Alonso, Diarra, Özil, Higuaín, Ronaldo, and Benzema.
Tensions will be running high and an all-out fight has been brewing between these two teams for a while now. If Barcelona is winning, especially by a large margin, expect even more maliciousness from the Castilians that the Catalans will not be able to ignore. On the football side of things however, Barcelona should not have too much trouble securing its place in the semifinals against the winner of the Valencia/Levante tie. (Third division miracle team CD Mirandés defeated RCD Espanyol with a last minute goal Tuesday, eliminating the possibility of another intense rivalry in the finals.) The match should still be tough, however, so while another manita would be glorious, a tighter score line is probably more realistic.
FC Barcelona 1-0 Real Madrid CF’
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