There are a few matches in the world of football that demand the attention of fans across the world but El Classico is exactly that. The two sides meet tonight in the Copa Del Rey and this is the first of two meetings that will grace our TV screens over the next week as they meet again in La Liga on Saturday evening.
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This competition may be low down on the priority lists of both of these clubs with upcoming Champions League games, but with the title all but sealed, it may well be Madrid who want to ensure that they walk away with some silverware this season. However, we enter the second leg of this cup tie with Barcelona on the front foot.
An away goal in the previous leg at the Bernabeu means Barca need to go into this game and simply keep a clean sheet to qualify. Not only does this give them one over rivals Real Madrid, it means they match the record of Athletic Bilbao who have reached the Copa Del Rey final 36 times compared to Barcelona’s 35.
A clean sheet for Barcelona may well be difficult though as it’s something they have failed to do in 11 consecutive games in all competitions. It’s also something that they’ve failed to do in 11 consecutive meetings with Real Madrid. Add to this the fact that Barcelona have won only 1 of the last 5 meetings between the two sides at Camp Nou and it’s easy to understand that this won’t be a runaway victory for the home side.
Real Madrid 7/2
Real Madrid may well have faltered on numerous occasions this season but we can’t write them off here. This could be their only chance of silverware this season and with pressure building at The Bernabeu, this could a small slice of success that the hungry Madrid fans need. They can draw confidence from the fact that Barcelona were beaten by an AC Milan side in the week who were impressive by no means.
Barca need to concentrate on reversing their Champions League deficit, rather than a cup tie with Real Madrid in a competition which is frankly worthless to them. They can also draw confidence from the fact that they picked up a 1-2 victory at Camp Nou just under 1 year ago in the league.
Yet despite all of these factors, Barcelona still go into this game as heavy odds-on favourites. Could we really expect anything else from a team that always seems to win? Whoever wins this game tonight and progresses to the final can firmly place one hand on the trophy.
Atletico Madrid would make great finalists for either of these two sides if they are able to sneak past Sevilla in the other semi-final to be played on Wednesday evening. Many may say that this is the final that football fans deserve to see in the Copa Del Rey. Regardless of this, we can expect fireworks tonight at Camp Nou as the “Kings Cup” will no doubt see its new heir to the throne crowned tonight.