Barcelona vs Real Madrid Match Preview
Eighteen years later, Real Madrid look to become champions of Copa Del Rey 2011 in the Mestalla at Barcelona's expense.
Barcelona's Carles Puyol played a decisive role in La Liga's Clasico last weekend, but he resented from his injuries and had to be substituted on the hour mark.
Real Madrid missed a golden opportunity to shorten the gap from Barcelona in the chase for La Liga's title. La Liga title is surely Barcelona`s now. Wednesday's Copa Del Rey Final match offers a chance of redemption for the Galactico squad and an opportunity to show what they have learnt from Clasico 2010.
Real Madrid's midfielders struggled to keep up with the collective teamwork of Pep Guardiola's Blaugranas. Barcelona dominated the game -except for the last 20 minutes, Barcelona had a 80% possession of the ball- and Real Madrid was saved only thanks to David Villa's poor form.
Jose Mourinho's Madrid Clasico scheme had relative success against La Liga leaders Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu last Saturday. Sami Khedira, Xabi Alonso and Pepe kept Lio Messi and company under control, though the speed of the Argentinean and Spanish international Pedro was a constant headache for Blanco's defenders.
Perhaps los Blancos need a new approach to defeat Barcelona. Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo were forced to assist with the defense often times during the last El Clasico, isolating either Karim Benzema or Emmanuel Adebayor, who were rendered harmless close to the Blaugrana area.
Gonzalo Higuain could also make it into the Copa Del Rey 2011 Final starting eleven, if Mourinho decides to sacrifice power to boost the speed and versatility on the attack.
German international Mesut Ozil was the most unbalancing player in the second half, harmonizing Real Madrid's attack with great success. The first title of the year is at stake, who'll be lifting the Copa Del Rey 2011 on Wednesday night?
Barcelona's goalkeeper Jose Manuel Pinto has guarded Cule's post throughout the whole 2010-2011 Copa Del Rey competition, but this might not be the only defensive modification on Pep Guardiola's scheme.
"I'm glad I'm back on the team. The last three months have been extremely difficult for me" said Blaugrana's Carles Puyol. He missed the last 25 minutes of La Liga's last game due to a pulled muscle.
His absence would force Guardiola to improvise with Sergio Busquets as Gerard Pique's partner in the back line, and Javier Mascherano at the center of the midfield. Gabriel Milito has not convinced Barcelona's boss in the last games, while Busquests has proven its efficiency as well as Argentina's captain Mascherano.
Xavi will be once again asphyxiated by a close personal mark, though Portuguese defender Pepe might return to the back line to substitute Raul Albiol, sent off last Saturday.
Both Cristiano Ronaldo and Lio Messi broke their personal curses against their rival this Wednesday. Messi is the top Copa Del Rey striker with seven goals, Cristiano Ronaldo has six. This is another chapter in the history of a Herculean rivalry between Messi and Ronaldo. Who will lead its squad towards victory?
Barcelona vs Real Madrid Match Report
Copa del Rey 2011: The Spanish Cup dyes in white as Cristiano Ronaldo's header in extra time gives Real Madrid the Copa del Rey.
10-men Real Madrid delivered a fatal blow to Guardiola's Barcelona, claiming the first title of the season.
The second Clasico was held at the Mestalla, with the Spanish Cup at stake. Both sides relied frequently on violence to control their rival, but the outstanding performance of both Jose Manuel Pinto and Iker Casillas made the game last 120 minutes.
Jose Mourinho managed once again to nullify Messi without conceding much offensive power. The speed of Cristiano Ronaldo and Angel Di Maria forced Gerard Pique not to join the attack, for as soon as he crossed the midfield, Real Madrid started an electric counter-attack.
Cristiano Ronaldo was close from finding the opener at the 11th minute, but Javier Mascherano cleared the ball in the goal line, stopping the Portuguese from scoring his 7th goal in the Copa del Rey.
It was the single most dangerous moment of the first half until the last minute, when Mesut Ozil sent a perfect cross that Pepe headed brutally against Jose Manuel Pinto's goal, but it was not meant to be, and the post stopped Real Madrid from finishing the first half one goal ahead.
Barcelona dominated the first half, securing 64% possession of the ball, but Pep Guardiola's Blaugranas struggled endlessly to break through Madrid's packed midfield. Three consecutive corner kicks at the end of the first half could have given Barcelona an early advantage, but Iker Casillas denied their every attempt.
A superb, tireless Angel Di Maria lead Madrid's attack throughout the first 115 minutes of the game, but he was sent off in the last minutes of the game as he challenged Lio Messi. Mesut Ozil was the architect of most of Merengue's offenses, but Jose Mourinho missed the presence of a central striker, and the German international finally made way for Emmanuel Adebayor.
The second half offered much more excitement than the first 45 minutes of the game. Andres Iniesta fell inside the box as he tried to build an offense with David Villa, but the referee ignored the challenge. Three minutes later, Pedro followed up with a dangerous shot from inside the area, but the ball went wide.
On the 68th minute, Lio Messi outwitted three Madrid defender and assisted Pedro, who sent the ball straight into the net. The goal was annulled nevertheless as the Spanish international striker was in an illegal possession as he received Messi's assistance.
Mourinho made the right call by changing his tactical scheme on the 70th minute, as Adebayor gave more unity and consistency to Merengue's attack. The partnership of the Togolese international with Cristiano Ronaldo and Angel Di Maria did bear fruits, and kept Pinto constantly busy throughout the last 20 minutes of the second half.
But Barcelona was growing, and Pep Guardiola wanted to finish the game the sooner the better. Iker Casillas played a major role in the last 15 minutes of the game, deflecting three dangerous shots from Pedro and Iniesta.
Angel Di Maria shot last in the second half, with a powerful ball from right outside the area, that Pinto managed to control.
Both Barcelona and Real Madrid made enough merits to secure the game in the 30 minutes of additional time. Cristiano Ronaldo warned first at the 98th minute as Xabi Alonso assisted the Portuguese with a long pass that broke Barcelona's defensive line. The Portuguese crossed the ball, that went millimeters wide.
Four minutes later, Cristiano Ronaldo redeemed himself scoring the opener and winning goal: Angel Di Maria and Marcelo made it past Barcelona's defense, the Argentinean lifted the ball and Ronaldo's top-class header made it past Pinto's goal.
Jose Mourinho knew his boys had to hold off for only 15 minutes to claim the Spanish Cup for the first time in 18 years. Sami Khedira was replaced by Esteban Granero, while Guardiola introduced fresh legs with Seydou Keita and ibrahim Afellay joining for the last quarter of an hour.
Lio Messi could have found the opener twice in the last half of extra time, but Marcelo and Iker Casillas were impassable. In the last minutes of the game, Angel Di Maria challenged Lio Messi on the right wing, receiving a red card.
Jose Mourinho's 10-men Real Madrid lifted the Spanish Cup, bringing Barcelona back to earth one week away from the Champions League semi-finals.