What: Spanish Copa del Rey Quarter-final (first-leg)
Who: Real Madrid vs Barcelona
When: Wednesday 18th January, 2012, at 21:00 UK time
Where: Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain

Miles Away

More meetings than the regular La Liga fare between Spain’s top two sides has become normal in recent times, with Real Madrid and Barcelona dominating proceedings in recent seasons; last year the pair met seven times. Now, the duo are set to clash for the first time in 2012, in the first leg of the Copa del Rey quarter-final.

Real Madrid have been near impeccable under Jose Mourinho this season, leading the league chart by five points while skimming through the Champions League group stage. Their darkest hour however, came at the hands of none other than Josep Guardiola’s men who, after being 1-0 down after just 22 seconds the last time the two teams met, masterminded a memorable comeback to topple their hosts 3-1, leaving the Catalan coach still impervious at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Los Blancos have grinded out results lately, notably against Malaga and Real Mallorca in the cup and league, respectively. Such a display on their part will surely be insufficient should they even want to draw against Barcelona here.

Right on Their Tail

Billed as a game that the current league champions should have easily attended to at the weekend, Real Betis gave their hosts a run for their money, becoming the first side to score at the Camp Nou this league season – and doing it twice. Having levelled after Guardiola’s team were 2-0 in front after 12 minutes, Los Verdiblancos only succumbed after being reduced to ten men with 20 minutes left.

The hard fought win enabled Barcelona to reduce the eight-point gap that Real Madrid had opened up just 24 hours earlier. But asked whether the club were experiencing a problem in finding eye-catching results due to their playing style, midfielder Xavi dismissed the suggestion, citing the fact that the team will always be loyal to the club’s philosophy.

“We can play better or worse but the philosophy is intact: always attack with an attacking attitude, there is no doubt about that”, said the midfielder, before going on to declare that a strong result against Real Madrid could tilt the league’s balance in their favour: “Yes, the result can influence the outcome, but they are different competitions.”


Recent form

Real Madrid:
Real Madrid 5-1 Granada (07/01; La Liga)
Malaga 0-1 Real Madrid (11/01; Copa del Rey)
Real Mallorca 1-2 Real Madrid (14/01; La Liga)

Espanyol 1-1 Barcelona (08/01; La Liga)
Osasuna 1-2 Barcelona (12/01; Copa del Rey)
Barcelona 4-2 Real Betis (15/01; La Liga)

Key absences

Real Madrid: Sami Khedira; Alvaro Arbeloa (suspended)

Pedro; David Villa; Andreu Fontas; Ibrahim Afellay; Seydou Keita (doubt)

Players to watch

Real Madrid – Iker Casillas: With his team far from their usual selves, the onus is on Casillas to keep his net intact against the likes of Lionel Messi and Cesc Fabregas. Forcing a clean sheet at the Bernabeu would provide a major boost for his side going into the second leg.

Barcelona – Xavi: The midfield metronome was instrumental as Barcelona managed to see off Real Betis on Sunday night, scoring the first and assisting the third in what was his 400th league appearance for the club. For Real Madrid to overcome their demons on the night, Xavi will need to be kept quiet.

Match Prediction

Both teams were less than their usual all-conquering selves at the weekend, but all bets and form are off in the Clasico. Real Madrid lead the league pack at the moment, but Mourinho’s troops were also hyped as favourites the last time the two met and then crumbled miserably. It will be difficult for Los Blancos to outmuscle the Catalans on current form. Real Madrid 1-2 Barcelona.


They don’t come any bigger or better than Real Madrid v Barcelona and the betting opportunities are huge. Make sure you visit OLBG for tips and to compare the current odds and betting markets available at all the important bookmakers.