Ahead of the big kick-off, we take you through five different angles related to the 2013 Spanish Cup final. We look into Real Madrid’s defensive line-up, Jose Mourinho’s obligation to win the title, Iker Casillas’ miserable time on the bench, Atletico Madrid’s incredible form in Cup Finals during the past three years, and the influence of their two super strikers – Radamel Falcao and Diego Costa. To cap it off, our preview concludes with hyped up quotes and a final prediction.
Sergio Ramos and Real Madrid’s defensive line
Sergio Ramos has been out of action since April 30 when he came inches away from leading Real Madrid to a gargantuan comeback against Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League. The Spanish defender scored a late goal in that match but ended the night on the losing side with as much pain on his body as in his heart.
Managing a club as memorable and historic as Manchester United is certainly not every manager’s job, the pressure to win titles every season and to manage some of the biggest names in the game is certainly a horrendous task.Add to this the pressure of having to replace the most successful manager in English football history.
Ferguson’s replacement certainly has to be someone of extraordinary character and expertise. Here we look at five individuals who are capable of replacing the Scot.
A firm favorite to take the hot seat at the Old Trafford, Moyes will be out of contract this summer having not signed a contract with Everton as yet.
The La Liga title has been all but confirmed for quite sometime, but a mid-week slip up from Real Madrid could finally confirm what many have known, or at least believed.
Although Tito Vilanova's side could already be crowned champions before their next match against Atletico Madrid, what started off looking like a brilliant campaign for the Blaugrana has slowly lost some of is bright spots.
From their first 18 matches, Barcelona looked destined for yet another record breaking season, if that was even possible, after what they had already accomplished with Pep Guardiola at the helm. The transition to Vilanova did not appear to cause any problems for the Catalans as they kicked off at a remarkable pace.
The spirit ruling at the Santiago Bernabeu presently is one marked with faith to pull off a historic upset come Tuesday, April 30, 2013. Every area of Jose Mourinho’s squad will be tested – from the defence to the attack, from the physical stamina to the mental power. Los Blancos have done it many times in the past but what are the current team’s chances of recording a miraculous result against Jurgen Klopp’s perfectly trained Dortmund at the Bernabeu?
We look at a range of post-match quotes which illustrate Real Madrid’s belief that the tie ‘es remontable’ (can be overturned).
1) Pepe: “We did not start the match well. The important thing is that we can turn around the tie and get to the final. We have to think about ourselves. We played badly and we have to accept it, but there is still a match to go.”
Expensive mistakes can only be rectified through priceless perfection. Real Madrid will need to sweat blood at the Bernabeu to revive their hope of winning La Decima in 2013.
Team news and analysis
This season, Athletic Bilbao are nowhere near equalling the achievements they had in 2012. By this time, last year, the team had life in Europe. The 2011/12 UEFA Europa League runners-up are suffering from inconsistency in La Liga this season. Bilbao have very little to play for as they rank 14th in the table. Staying clear from the relegation zone is definitely not sufficient for the occupants of San Mames who have forgotten about a top six finish long ago.
Athletic Bilbao have collected red cards in each of their last two games. In their latest fixture, against Sevilla, Aymeric Laporte received an accumulation of two yellow cards. The defender will not take part in Sunday’s home match against Real Madrid. As if Laporte’s loss was not enough, the hosts will have to be without Aduriz, De Marcos and Gurpegi. These three players must serve suspension for picking up too many yellows in the campaign.
Things should get calmer for Real Madrid who have a foot in the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League. Buoyed by Wednesday’s 3-0 win at home to Galatasaray, Los Blancos enter Saturday afternoon’s match against Levante with virtually no pressure.
Finishing second is far as Real Madrid’s ambition goes in the Spanish La Liga. As of now, they are one point above city rivals Atletico Madrid. Should they secure their 13th win in 15 home matches, Mourinho’s men will go four points clear of the third spot for at least 24 hours.
Before the international break, Jose Mourinho slammed FIFA for interrupting the current crunch period in club football with national team football. The outspoken manager will return to business in Spain after making trips to England and his native Portugal during the past few days.
He will find tired legs in his squad – Argentina’s Angel Di Maria who played in Bolivia’s high altitude on Tuesday, Portugal’s Pepe and Fabio Coentrao, Sergio Ramos and other Spanish internationals to name a few. Meanwhile, goalkeeper Diego Lopez and star winger Cristiano Ronaldo should be fit for selection.
Team news and analysis
Updated March 5, 2013 - 2:35PM.
Manchester United: De Gea; Rafael, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Carrick, Cleverley, Giggs; NANI, Welbeck and Van Persie.
Real Madrid: Diego López; Arbeloa, Varane, Ramos, Coentrao; Khedira, Xabi Alonso; Özil, Di María, Cristiano Ronaldo and Higuaín
Robin van Persie is known for losing his temper quite easily. The Dutch player will need to keep his cool on Tuesday as one booking would put him under a ban. The situation is similar for Rafael who was tasked by Alex Ferguson to mark Cristiano Ronaldo in the first leg of this tie at the Santiago Bernabeu. The same goes for influential defender Sergio Ramos and midfielder Xabi Alonso of Real Madrid. These four key players will need to play with caution.
Shinji Kagawa proved his intent to feature against Los Blancos with a hat-trick against Norwich City on Saturday. He made history by becoming the first Asian to net three goals in one match in the English Premier League. If played on Tuesday, he may cause troubles with his pace and desire to make a big impact on the international stage since quitting German football last summer.
Team news and analysis
Real Madrid vs Manchester United is such a huge clash that every player dreams about taking part in it. However, veteran keeper Iker Casillas, new sensation Raphael Varane and influential winger Angel Di Maria will be nothing more than spectators on Wednesday night. All three Real Madrid stars are out injured.
Portuguese defender Pepe warmed up for this Champions League clash with an appearance against Sevilla last Sunday. He should be fit to make the First XI. Jose Mourinho is likely to give Jose Callejon a rare start. The latter’s role will be to offer support to Karim Benzema who is set to keep his place upfront. Global superstar Cristiano Ronaldo was taken off after the hour mark during Real Madrid’s 4-1 demolition of Sevilla last Saturday.
Indeed, Jose Mourinho’s time at Real Madrid may come to an abrupt end; the shenanigans of the man at the helm have left a large portion of Madridistas terribly disappointed. The Spanish La Liga title looks beyond Los Blancos’ reach.
The month of February will reveal a lot about Real Madrid’s fortunes in cup competitions this season. In the Copa del Rey, they need to finish off Barcelona at the Camp Nou to progress after salvaging nothing more than a 1-1 draw on home soil.
In the UEFA Champions League Last 16, pre-tournament favourites Manchester United are poised to give Real Madrid an extremely tough fight. Whether Jose Mourinho succeeds or not in bringing glory to Los Blancos this term, strong rumours suggest that the club will part company with him in summer – if not earlier.
So who would be ideal to replace Mourinho at Real Madrid? Here is a look at the top three contenders who could take possession of the head coach seat at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Roman Abramovich has been an enigma; he is known to pull the trigger on managers far too easily. Everything looked hunky-dory when Jose Mourinho was in charge of Chelsea.
The self-proclaimed ‘special one’ won back to back titles with the club but something went a miss and he was gone in the wink of an eyebrow. No Chelsea manager has been as successful as Jose Mourinho was during his time at Chelsea.
This hire and fire policy of the owner has been criticized by several football pundits: why would a manager with a proven track record want to join Chelsea knowing that he would be gone in an instant should the club lose a few important matches?
Jose Mourinho had a hard time keeping his temper during the the Copa del Rey match against Celta Vigo. Despite Real Madrid winning convincingly 4-0 thanks to a hat-trick and assist from Cristiano Ronaldo, it was not enough to keep Mourinho calm. The Portuguese tactician snapped when a call did not go as he had expected. José got up and smacked a ball into the the team area narrowly missing some of the Madrid staff.
History was made in Zurich on a night when Cristiano Ronaldo could have been granted more sympathy. The truth is that Lionel Messi was always expected to scoop the 2012 FIFA Ballon d’Or award with his 91 calendar year goals.
However, a certain formula favoured 2008 Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo to triumph in the 2012 edition aside arguments backing him. Check out the secret Ballon d’Or winning formula which, this time, failed to apply to the Real Madrid superstar at the anger of his supporters.
Looking at the video, one may finally understand why Jose Mourinho opted to boycott the 2012 FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala, bearing in mind this strong statement:
The ‘Only One’ once said that ‘it would be a crime if Cristiano Ronaldo does not win the Ballon d’Or’. Take note of these words humorously interpreted in this very video. Is there anyone out there feeling guilty?
Watch 2012 Ballon d'Or - Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo Comedy video