What: 2011 Copa del Rey final
Who: Barcelona vs Real Madrid
When: Wednesday 20th April, 2011, at 20:30 UK time
Where: Mestalla, Valencia, Spain

League in the Bag, but…

With few games remaining in the league, Barcelona all but wrapped a third consecutive La Liga title with their draw against second-placed Real Madrid at the weekend. The eight-point gap will surely be impossible to bridge for Los Blancos, but winning the upcoming Clasicos may not necessarily be easy for Josep Guardiola’s team.

It looked as if the Blaugrana were on their way to another Clasico win in the Bernabeu. 1-0 up in the opening stages of the second half, and with an extra man on the pitch, the Spanish champions could not keep their lead and settled for a draw as Cristiano Ronaldo levelled from the spot. Although disappointed, skipper Carles Puyol does not believe the match’s outcome will affect his team’s Copa del Rey hopes: “I do not think this game will influence anything. A final is always different. We have two excellent teams and I am sure it will be great. We are optimistic and it will be an intense final with two great teams fighting for the cup."

Holding the record for the most Copa del Rey titles – 25 wins – the Blaugrana will feel at home in this special kind of competition. However, Jose Mourinho remains a master knockout tactician, and he could have a trick or two up his sleeve when the two sides meet again.


One of the Santiago Bernabeu’s newest logos this season, “PodeMous” is a play on the Spanish word “podemos”, which means “we can”, but with the “U” included as a reference to Jose Mourinho. In short, the Madridistas feel that Jose Mourinho’s guidance will finally break years of Barcelona domination.

It took a 5-0 drubbing last November for Real Madrid to discover it, but the team might have finally worked out a way to stop the Barcelona battleship. Having fielded the robust Pepe in midfield against the Blaugrana on Saturday, Los Blancos made sure that their opponent’s usual boiler room was cooled down, limiting the supply to their forwards.

That however, did not stop Barcelona from taking the lead after Raul Albiol brought down David Villa in the box, with the former Valencia man receiving his marching orders, something that Mourinho himself confessed to be tired of: “As usual, when it is ten against eleven, it is very difficult to play against a team like Barcelona. The referee’s approach changed with the decision not to send off Daniel Alves. For once I would like to play against a ten-man Barcelona."

Yet the draw in itself was perceived as a win by many, as Mourinho’s team managed to level the Clasico against Barcelona despite being a man down. That does not mean that the former Inter coach would like to face a similar predicament in the Copa del Rey final though.


Recent form

Barcelona 3-1 Almeria (09/04; La Liga)
Shakhtar Donetsk 0-1 Barcelona (12/04; Champions League)
Real Madrid 1-1 Barcelona (16/04; La Liga)

Real Madrid:
Athletic Bilbao 0-3 Real Madrid (09/04; La Liga)
Tottenham Hotspur 0-1 Real Madrid (13/04; Champions League)
Real Madrid 1-1 Barcelona (16/04; La Liga)

Key absences

Barcelona: Eric Abidal; Bojan; Carles Puyol (doubt)

Real Madrid: Fernando Gago; Raul Albiol (suspended)

Expected formation

Barcelona: 4-1-2-3: The Blaugrana will remain true to their style, opting for their traditional attacking frontline of David Villa, Lionel Messi and Pedro. The true puzzle revolves around the identity of their defence, with Sergio Busquets expected to partner Gerard Pique in the centre should Puyol not play, with Javier Mascherano shielding the back four.

Real Madrid: 4-3-3: Has Jose Mourinho found a potentially winning formula with a three-man midfield? With Raul Albiol suspended, the coach could include Lassana Diarra alongside Xabi Alonso and Sami Khedira. Alternatively, Sergio Ramos could partner Ricardo Carvalho in the centre, leaving Pepe as a midfielder and Alvaro Arbeloa as right back.

Players to watch

Barcelona – David Villa: The last time Real Madrid reached the Copa del Rey final was in 2004. Back then, an unknown David Villa helped Real Zaragoza sink Los Blancos and condemned them to end their season trophy-less. “El Guaje” is enduring a goal drought at the moment, and will be hoping to break his duck on his old stomping ground. Aiding him will be Lionel Messi, who finally managed to score past a Jose Mourinho-coached team on Saturday.

Real Madrid – Cristiano Ronaldo: The Portuguese converted his side’s penalty when the two teams met at the weekend, ensuring Real Madrid did not suffer a sixth consecutive Clasico loss. His strike will undoubtedly increase his morale as he prepares to meet Barcelona another three times. Another man who impressed was Pepe, deployed in an unusual defensive-midfield position. The Brazilian-born stopper produced a good display as he broke up the Barcelona midfield, keeping the likes of Andres Iniesta and Xavi at bay.

Match Prediction

For the first time in a long, long time, Real Madrid are not scared of meeting their Catalan rivals. The first of the four Clasicos gave them a positive boost, and they will certainly adopt similar tactics again at the Mestalla. Expect the game’s outcome to be decided in extra-time, possibly even penalties.

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