Bitter rivals Real Madrid and Barcelona will lock horns for the second time in less than a week as they fight for the the Copa del Rey on Wednesday.
Saturday’s La Liga encounter between the arch rivals ended in a 1-1 draw, with stars Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo each converting from the penalty spot for their respective teams.
Madrid, who were handed an 5-0 thrashing at the Camp Nou in November’s league match, deployed a defensively sound approach in Madrid as they looked to stifle Barcelona’s possession play.
But Jose Mourinho’s men will need to open up take the game to the Catalans if they want to claim their first Spanish Cup since 1993.
Mourinho, who was criticised by some for his negative tactics against the defending League and Cup champions, is expected to bring German playmaker Mesut Oezil back into the XI as he looks to pierce through the defensively sound Barca rear guard.
Oezil’s re-introduction, however, could see French striker Karim Benzema relegated to the bench.
Cristiano Ronaldo, who has traditionally struggled to get into his stride against Barcelona, should be buoyed by his maiden goal against Pep Guardiola’s men and is expected to be the focal point in attack.
Their opponents, who are widely expected to claim their third consecutive La Liga crown, again had the majority of possession against Real on Saturday.
Barcelona completed 817 passes while their opponents could only muster 278 attempted passes, while they were also winners last time the two sides met in the final of the same competition at the Estadio Mestalla.
Pep Guardiola is rumoured to be considering resting first-choice goalkeeper Victor Valdes – who was saved by the woodwork on Saturday when Ronaldo’s dipping freekick rattled the post – in the Cup final, looking ahead to the upcoming Champions League semi-final legs with Real.
Barca captain Carles Puyol was stretchered off against Madrid and remains a doubt for the clash, meaning Gerard Pique will likely partner Gabriel Milito at the back.
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