Several factors could decide El Clasico on Wednesday night. They are all being discussed by soccer pundits ahead of this Spanish Cup battle.
Barcelona have never hesitated to replace Victor Valdes by Pinto in cup matches. Like it happened in the 2011/12 Spanish quarter-finals or in the 2010 Copa del Rey final, Pinto is expected to be in post against Real Madrid. This time, his opposite number will not be Iker Casillas.
The World Cup winner suffered a serious hand injury against Valencia last week and will not return to action until April or May according to club doctors. Could the omission of first-choice goalkeepers Victor Valdes and Iker Casillas – for Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively – spark a goal fiesta at the Bernabeu on Wednesday?
On this note, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are the two star players that come to mind. They have proven to be a curse to defenders in Spain. In last time’s Clasico, Messi and Ronaldo made the pitch theirs, grabbing a brace each to prove that they are a class above the rest. That league game in October 2012 ended 2-2 with Cristiano Ronaldo stealing a point for his side after La Pulga had put the Catalans 2-1 up.
Last weekend, the Real Madrid number 7 netted a hat-trick against Getafe but Barcelona’s number 10 went one better with a quartet against Osasuna. Which player will outshine the other in the first leg of this Spanish Cup semi-final tie?
• Defensive problems: Barcelona have conceded nine goals in their last five matches.
• Cheating defensive problems: Despite the Casillas-Adan saga and other issues involving the absence of some defenders like Sergio Ramos, Real Madrid have managed a good defensive record with four clean sheets in their last five matches.
• Goals galore: With 16 goals in their last five matches, Barcelona have proven that there is absolutely no goal drought in the team.
• Goals galore: Since stumbling to a goalless draw against Osasuna in La Liga, Real Madrid have scored 12 goals. That makes a 3-goal-per-game ratio for Los Blancos.
Ball possession: 64 per cent; Corners: 10; Shots on target: 11; Shots wide: 6; Fouls: 7; Offsides: 2
Ball possession: 74 per cent; Corners: 8; Shots on target: 10; Shots wide: 11; Fouls: 11; Offsides: 10
January 12, 2013: Osasuna 0-0 Real Madrid (La Liga)
January 15, 2013: Real Madrid 2-0 Valencia (Copa del Rey)
January 20, 2013: Valencia 0-5 Real Madrid (La Liga)
January 23, 2013: Valencia 1-1 Real Madrid (Copa del Rey)
January 27, 2013: Real Madrid 4-0 Getafe (La Liga)
January 13, 2013: Malaga 1-3 Barcelona (La Liga)
January 16, 2013: Barcelona 2-2 Malaga (Copa del Rey)
January 19, 2013: Real Sociedad 3-2 Barcelona (La Liga)
January 24, 2013: Malaga 2-4 Barcelona (Copa del Rey)
January 27, 2013: Barcelona 5-1 Osasuna (La Liga)
Real Madrid 3-3 Barcelona