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Areal sigh from the from the capital as two more Clasicos are on the horizon | El Centrocampista
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El Centrocampista

FEAR BECOMES REAL-ITY – Spain’s biggest soap opera rumbles on

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With the remaining ties of the Copa del Rey quarter finals finally confirmed this week, what seemed most likely when the draw was made became a certainty.

Real Madrid and Barcelona will lock horns yet again, for the fourth and fifth tie this season.

These latest clásicos will be played over the next two weeks, firstly at the Santiago Bernabeu and then the second leg at the Camp Nou – yet who will choke first and will we even see first-team players in the starting line up?

Mourinho has, for the Malaga tie at least, taken the Copa typically seriously, having last lost a domestic cup game in his first season at Inter  all the way back in the 2008/2009 season, and will be looking to defend the only trophy his side won last season.

Guardiola on the other hand has rotated far more in the king’s cup and it is not impossible to envisage this even in the quarter finals.

One can only imagine if Real Madrid lose yet again to their bitter rivals, especially if the reserves or worse – the La Masia kids play and stars such as Messi and Xavi are on the bench.

More questions would be asked of Real and more pressure heaped on Mourinho. It is very true to say however that the Copa is the third in the list of trophy priorities for Los Blancos after the Primera Liga and the Champions League, and whilst going out to Barcelona would leave a bitter taste, it would be the trophy the Portuguese coach would be most willing to sacrifice.

There are of course injury and suspension issues for Real, with Arbeloa getting a needless suspension after the game at la Rosaleda, Khedira is out for at least a month and Carvalho is just getting back into the swing of things after a lengthy absence – meaning there could well be a chance for the brightest young prospect seen at Real in a while, Raphael Varane at centre back.

One player who will relish the chance to right the performance he produced back in December will be Cristiano Ronaldo, who feels the need to prove fans and critics wrong after being all but anonymous in the 3-1 defeat, and for him the Copa tie cannot come soon enough.

Of course this can easily work the other way, and if Ronaldo is again as conspicuous by his absence on the pitch as he was during the 3-1 loss last month, chances are he will look even more miserable than he does at the minute – his reaction – or lack of it – after scoring a goal in the league against Granada prompted all-knowing and never-biased Marca to ask ‘¿que le pasa a CR7?’ What’s wrong Ronaldo?

It was however Ronaldo who scored the winner in the final last season, and how the player will be hoping that is the case again.

The fact remains it is probably more vital to Real Madrid than Barcelona to win the tie, as despite having a five point gap in the domestic league, the hangover from the last el clásico is still felt at the Bernabeu, and a further loss would dent morale and the psychological impact of yet again failing to beat Barcelona could have a serious impact on the title race, giving Barça the lift they need to close the gap.

Of course, should Mourinho’s men win, it may well finally signal that the dominance of Barcelona is, if not over, at least on the wane.

Whatever the outcome, one thing that most people will agree on is the hope that the games will be remembered for beautiful football with the two best teams in the world making a spectacle of the beautiful game, not themselves as has been the case in so many recent encounters between the two.




One Comment

  1. the ref

    15 January, 2012 at 16:43

    Mind games galore to be played out over the next few weeks.

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