April 2011 certainly is a wonderful month for followers of Spanish football, since great progress from Los Cules and Los Blancos in all competitions have added a bunch of Clasicos to their agendas. Beside the upcoming Copa del Rey final, a two-legged encounter in the UEFA Champions League’s semi-finals is also scheduled to follow.
In the meantime though, the focus is on what lies just ahead, and coming up next is the moment of truth for both Barcelona and Real Madrid. El Clasico, which ended in a 1-1 draw on April 16 at the Santiago Bernabeu, was definitely of great importance. However, in view of the huge 8-point gap at the top of La Liga standings which still remains, it is obvious that the clash’s outcome had a massive influence on the psychology of both giants ahead of their Spanish Cup final—more than it had in any other area.
Now then, a 1-1 draw can never be a bad result in any way. Especially for Real, who had to come from a goal down to level the match, there were noticeably some positives to extract from the 90 minutes. At most, it would be the defending Spanish champions who would need to revise their techniques and make sure they wisely profit from every single chance they earn, whenever they are firmly in control.
For Jose Mourinho—now Pep Guardiola’s perfect Clasico record breaker—his chances prior to the imminent 2011 Copa del Rey final are increasingly good. Having gone from a humiliating 5-0 away defeat back on 29 November 2010, to a brave 1-1 home draw on Saturday, the Special One is well aware that a victory could be the reward for his efforts on Wednesday in Valencia’s arena.
Barcelona are currently the Copa del Rey’s most successful club, with 25 trophies in their bag. Their last dominance in the competition was back in 2009, when they thrashed Athletic Bilbao 4-1 in the final at the Mestalla Stadium to win the first of six cups that year.
As they were bitterly eliminated last season in an early stage by winners Sevilla, the Catalans will be hoping to shut down their archrivals on April 20 so as to reach success this time. With both Real Madrid and Barcelona having strong motives to triumph, predicting the winner of this year’s Spanish Cup edition is something hard to do. One thing though is for sure: the winner of the 2011 Copa del Rey final will have a great advantage before Los Clasicos in the UEFA Champions League’s semis.