Copa del Rey Final 2011 Preview – FC Barcelona vs Real Madrid

Wednesday 21:30 local time, the first piece of meaningful silverware of the 2010/11 season is up for grabs in Valencia.  It is also round two of the four Clásico extravaganza.  Round one ended up in a 1-1 stale mate that both sides and sets of fans considered moral victories.  Personally, as my post match report made clear, because of the way we dominated long periods of the match and created enough chances, I came out feeling good about the game.  But fair enough, Madrid also showed to be resolute and at times play as a unit.

But that game 4 days ago should have little bearing in this match.  Wednesday is a one off, there are no second chances to recover or try a different tactic.  I however still think it will be similar in style to Saturday.  Madrid are going to sit back and try score on the counter or set piece.  We are going to have lots of possession and try to break through a tough defense.  I just hope we can be more efficient and clinical with our chances.

There has been some fun media bits coming off Saturday and building towards Wednesday.  Honorary President (well at least still in my mind) Johan Cruyff came out with a very good piece.  Interestingly and objectively, he had criticism for both teams.  He really is truly unimpressed with Mourinho and the style of football he employs against us.  Here are some excerpts that give the general picture on his view of Madrid.  “Mourinho’s lineup is the biggest compliment he can give Barca. To play at home with 7 defenders is a sign that he must be very afraid”.  “Full of fear but always ready, that is how Mourinho is”.  “Mourinho is a coach only about titles, not football”“Madrid insist on playing like a small inferior team, insist on playing at the back, giving up the pitch and the ball”.  He also called Mou’s attitude of always making excuses and drama “annoying”, pretty much said Pepe played like a dirt bag, and likened Madrid’s tactics Saturday to how the Dutch played Spain in the 2010 World Cup final.  All pretty harsh words.

But like I said, he had some criticism for us as well, and I think fairly.  He was critical of how we relaxed too much after the red and did not go for the kill.  He felt we were too slow with our passes and movement and we mentally assumed Madrid were dead and buried with 10 men.

So yeah, one will say, sure that’s Johan Cruyff, cule through and through, of course he is going to criticze Madrid.  But would they say that about Honorary President (officially) of Real Madrid Alfredo Di Stefano?  In a column for Marca, he wrote: “Barcelona’s football was simply brilliant.  Their superiority was there for the whole planet to see.  The whites were cornered all game.  Barcelona play football and dance.  They treat the ball with adoration and respect, almost nurturing it.  To see this team in action is a delight.  Madrid are a side with no personality.  They just run back and forth constantly, tiring themselves out.  We saw clearly that their approach was not the right one.  Barcelona were a lion, Madrid a mouse”.  That is some stern words from the biggest Madrid player of all time.  Now do I think Mou gives a toss about that?  Not even a little.  Like Cruyff said, Jose only cares about winning, about titles, not about the other intangibles that clubs like Barcelona and Madrid (usually) pride themselves in.

Let’s get into the game itself.  I’m not going to go into Madrid much.  There are no injury problems to report, just the one suspension in Raul Albiol , so for the most part, Mou has a full contingency to pick from.  That posses an interesting question.  Does Pepe go back to the defense, or will he play that defensive midfield role he did quite effectively and brutally over the weekend.  If the does, will that mean Garay gets a start?  Or will Ozil or Kaka start in a more attacking looking team with Pepe back along side Carvalho?

For us, the most news worth story is that of Pinto.  It’s common knowledge that Pep promises from the very start of the season that Pinto will always start in the Copa, from day one all the way to and including the final.  And because it is just that, Pep’s word, I have no doubt Pinto will start in goal.  Many will groan about this, possibly even curse Pep if we end up losing, but Guardiola is a man of his word and believes in the virtues of loyalty and honesty.  It’s not something Mourinho would ever do, and that’s what makes them so different.  Do I wish he would start Victor: of course.  But I respect his decision and philosophy.  It is things like this that make us a special team with legitimate and clear team unity.

The next big question is Puyol.  He game off Saturday with a hamstring strain but he came to training this afternoon (despite it being a day off) and reports are that he will start again at the Mestalla.  Without Valdes, Puyol becomes even more important.

However, if he does not start, then expect Busquets to fall back and join Pique while we welcome back Mascherano from suspension.  Even if Puyol does play, I wonder if Mascherano could start.  Maybe Iniesta pushes forward for Pedro, who has not looked quite fit yet and we use Pedro as an impact substitute.

Other than that, should be Alves, Pique, Adriano, Xavi, Messi, and Villa.  I think Villa had a much improved game over the weekend, and despite poor final touches infront of goal, I have a feeling this could be the game he turns it on.

So that’s the preview.  Will Mourinho stay true to his tried and tested (and unfortunately often successful) tactic of sit back and counter?  Will Pep keep his word to Pinto?  Will Puyol lead his troops to another trophy?  Will we win our first trophy of 2011 and Pep’s 9th trophy in 3 years?  By the end of Wednesday night we will know.

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15 Responses to Copa del Rey Final 2011 Preview – FC Barcelona vs Real Madrid

  1. apo says:

    Mourinho’s antics annoy me now, and everybody is too quick to praise and hype him. Last year when Barca beat Inter 1-0 at home and Mourinho parked the bus the entire game I remember being SO irritated by how people couldn’t say enough good things about him.

    ->50% defenders on the field
    -lose 1-0
    =tactical genius


    I feel like the same thing is happening here. People are treating a 1-1 AT HOME like it was almost a victory. You’d never know Barca are winning 6-1 on agg this season against Madrid, because they managed to escape with a DRAW. The love affair with Mourinho is just upsetting to me and it makes me love and respect Pep all the more.

    I know most people are focused on the CL games but I think Pep really needs to get the troops fired up to come out and win. If Barca win here then we’ll come away with at LEAST a double for the season, which is no small feat in itself, and no matter what tricks Mourinho tries to pull before the CL games there will be a lot of pressure on the Madrid squad because the CL is all they have left to hope for and they’ll need to win. Hopefully this will force them to try and attack and actually win games rather than bide their time and wait for mistake, at which time Barca shreds through them.

    People are also talking about how amazing Pepe was…and while he did his job (I guess) I kind of got the impression he was barely hanging on by a thread and he can’t keep that up against Messi forever. He also has a temper so if anybody is going to get sent off for a harsh challenge I could see it being him for trying to stop one of Messi’s dazzling runs.

    Unfortunately Madrid’s greatest weapon is probably Villa. Counter-intuitive, I know, but with only one of our three forwards really in form their 7 defenders should easily have most Barca attacks covered. If Villa and Pedro can start to be genuine threats again then Madrid will just crumble. Personally, I wouldn’t mind seeing Affelay start in one of the next three encounters. Bit by bit he has started to impress me and I think he might deserve a shot considering the recent form of Villa/Pedro. But that’s just me. Visca el Barca i visca Catalunya.

  2. layibiyi says:

    i kinda like mascherano in defence and busquets in midfield if adebayor doesn’t start

    anyways, Barcelona 3 – 1 Madrid

  3. Fredegar says:

    This could be the more interesting of the four games. I can see Mourinho playing a far more offensive side for the Cup final. Let’s face it, he absolutely doesn’t care about the Cup, so if he plays offensive and wins, he will be hailed as a tactical genius, if he loses, he will be able to tell everybody “I told you it’s impossible to attack against Barça” and quietly return to his favourite prehistoric defensive ways. So a win-win situation in his point of view. Plus, he can consider this game as a second trial for the CL ties, in the first trial he tried his all defensive scheme, it would make sense to try something more constructive in case it is needed later. But of course Mou being himself, he could also perfectly be completely obtuse and go on with his bus tactics… Just a last point about Madrid: I found Di Stefano comments really strange, so much love for Barça (who were far to play as well as he pretended) and so much contempt for his own side, I really didn’t understand it and wonder what kind of agenda is behind all that. Does anybody have an interesting theory?
    As for us, well, I hope we have something more in the tank than what we showed Saturday, we looked disinterested, and I hope it was exactly that and not a physical problem. Iniesta for example looked like he played with the handbrake on, I hope the team just wanted to keep freshness and reserves to surprise Madrid when it really counts. If that’s the case and our players unleash their fury on Wednesday, it could be really good.
    The return of Puyol could well be a defining factor of the series. He gave us a lot of stability at the back and I hope he can keep his place, cos’ it’s not just a coincidence if we lost the plot when he was subbed and Busquets had to retreat to CB. Not blaming Busquets here, but him in the CB position and Keita in the DM position really did not work. I think we can now be pretty sure that Busquets is not at ease in this position and, should Puyol not play, I believe it will be Masch who will slot in the CB position alongside Piqué. Which will not help us on the set pieces, where we looked really weak. Ronaldo looked pretty dangerous with his direct free-kicks (a good share of them really cheaply won) and we were exposed a lot on the corners, at this rate I can’t imagine Madrid scoring less than two goals from set pieces in the next three games, so it could prove a key battle.
    But most of all I’m a bit worried with our offensive options. I don’t know what happened to Villa who had a busy game and won us the penalty, but seems to have definitely lost all his composure in front of the goal. I get increasingly worried for him and each game passing whithout him finding his foot again makes it less likely to believe in a recovery. Pedro is clearly out of form too due to his injury. Messi is just plain incredible (what a composure for the penalty, though the same must be said for CR), but he can’t do it all by himself (or could he?) and also experiences a bit of a funk in front of the goal, as was shown with another chip over the keeper that was completely missed. And behind them we have Affelay, and I believe he has potential, but I don’t see him being ready to make his mark on this kind of game, I really really hope he will make me eat my words. As for Jeffren he seems to have completely lost the faith of Guardiola.
    So worries up front and at the back, let’s hope our midfield and Messi can can win this one for us! Visca Barça!

  4. bc9jaCulé says:

    Di Stefano’s comment must be a hugely embarrassin’ slap in the face for every Madridista and their media (esp. AS & Marça), and most significantly, it was even uttered by the best player in their history. For this, I honorably doff my heart for this liberal Madridista for paintin’ the picture so perfectly. Stefano plainly served them up and his pills must be really bitter, especially for MOANinho and his troops. Barça simply played TOTAL FOOTBALL while RM displayed TOTAL SHAME — period!!!

    Concernin’ tomorrow’s Copa Clasico, I’ve got this unwaverin’ credence that we’ll stuff them with another humiliatin’ Manita — mark my words. Our players purposely closed shop (IYKWIM) after the first goal despite the numerical edge that accompanied it. I repeat, we did so on purpose so as to tease and seduce MOANinho into dealin’ his “ten–against–eleven” card which he fell for completely and now we know ALL he’s got cookin’.

    Let MOANinho play Pepe wherever he likes tomorrow or better still, strike with Casillas and put Carvalo in goal. Whatever, we will still hand him a thorough thrashin’ and come next week (CL Clasico), our titans will humiliate him on his own turf and further frustrate him in the return leg @ Camp Nou.

    Bring it on MOANinho

    Barça — 5
    Madrid — 0

    Visca Barça!!!
    Força Barça!!!

  5. blaugranaboy says:

    some good comments thus far guys.

    @apo – seems we are very much on the same wave length, especially with mou. i also found the praise of his tactics last year for inter ridiculous. it doesnt take a genius to play a 6-3-1 with a bunch of wordclass players, tell them to just tackle and push us around all game and then lose 1-0 which should have been 2-0 after bojan’s legit and awesome goal. though i can never fully make my mind up on him. i watched a really good documentary about him and one thing that cannot be doubted and is impressive is how much his players genuinely love him.

    @fredgar – the di stefano comments are some what easy to explain. madrid fans have historically prioritized style of play and entertainment over trophies. well, they want them both together. case in point capello being fired twice after winning the league twice because his football was boring. most madrid fans are like this, or where at least, until barca have completely obliterated them the last 7 years or so. many now have turned to accepting mou’s garbage tactics because the embarrassment and hurt of losing to barca has become to much. but alfredo is an old timer and still probably totally believes in the fact you have to not only win, but play good football. so his comments were much directed at mourinho and the fact he doesnt like the way he plays football.

    im interested how nobody has commented on the pinto start issue. seems we are all on board with that. no doubt i want VV to start but like i said, i totally buy the rationale behind it.

  6. blaugranaboy says:

    here is the final squad guys:

    Valdés, Pinto, Alves, Milito, Adriano, Maxwell, Fontàs, Piqué, Puyol, Xavi, Iniesta, Mascherano, Keita, Sergio, Thiago, Pedro, Afellay, Villa, Messi, Jeffren

  7. Grace says:

    i’m superconfused now. Is the game in 3 hours time or is it in 26 hrs time? Can someone give me the timing? I’m not livin in Spain…..and getting confused over the timetable s#cks. The media in the country is super English Premier League.

  8. apo says:

    I’m ok with Pinto starting. Let’s not forget in 05-06 he won the Zamora trophy…which isn’t the most prestigious award but is still a nice testament to his abilities. I’d prefer Valdes but Pep gave his word and I’m very glad to see that his word trumps potentially losing a trophy. I agree with what blaugranaboy said in the post about how that’s not something we’ll see Mourinho do. If Barca can win then that will make the victory all the sweeter, and it would be a nice feather in Pinto’s cap!

  9. DAYYIB-SM says:

    barca 2-1 madrid….

    for goals any where even if they score two own goals they should be more worthy than the one our players score..

    Mourinho is our best rival i like him really because he is mad and i like the people who are mad……….believe me he is a coach who don’t care what the people says……
    mourinho is alone and he showed he is our rival any where in the world….
    last year i was very disappiont when he kicked our ass….. but sometimes no need to be a genios….

    if you have two goal lead and go second leg barca’s home why are you playing a football????….barca is the best in terms of the football….but if you are fighting a man who is stronger than you can you go with him without weapon???? no one i think…

    even i like when he is speaking because he says what ever he wants no control no respect to opposition….. he is the madest coach i have ever seen….

    Barca and mourinho show will round on………

  10. Fredegar says:

    Well, I still can’t get my head around these Di Stefano comments… That he didn’t like the way Mou played I can understand, but why the need to speak in this way of Barcelona, when we gave a pretty limp performance on the day? And the risk is huge, he can be accused of disrupting the team, particularly as most Madrid fans seem to have absolutely no problem with this style as long as they don’t get humiliated once again. And that appears in Marca as well, so it can’t be just an innocent old man speaking his opinion, there must be something in it…
    Also, Sid Lowe alluded to a bad mood between the Madrid players in his column, do any of you have more infos about that? And could it cost them something?

    As for the Pinto issue, well, I’ve always liked him, of course he is no Valdes but has been pretty useful in the last three seasons, has made mostly harmless errors and has shown himself to be decisive in some circumstances, so I’ve got absolutely no problem with him getting the chance to play this great game, he totally deserves it in my opinion. And as you say, it also highlights Guardiola’s ways and I think it’s a big part of why the team works so well, so no complaints here.

    Btw, very nice to give us the column on Monday, leaves time to comment back!

  11. FCB-Parbo says:

    Rumble at the Mestalla. All Culés, let the game begin. It’s do or suck day. If Barca can score early on then the title is ours and RM will be like mice running around from nowhere to nowhere. Hammer them and trash them very very badly so they can shut their mouth up period. Show them who the boss is. No, no, no, I don’t like Mou at all. He is a scumbag, always trying to belittling us.

    RM will play very dirty against us, like always, so the soonest the game is decided the better. Yes we can! yes we can ! Yes-we-can beat them big time. I am so proud of this team for the joy they bring us.

    Btw, I read something about a confrontation between Cassillas and CR when this lad left the pitch on saturday without thanking their fans. Super arrogant I must say.

    VISCA EL BARCA!!!!!!
    FORCA BARCA !!!!!!!

  12. bc9jaCulé says:

    I was readin’ an article on GOAL.COM earlier in the day concernin’ the history, magnitude and significance of the Copa to both Barça and RM and in the course of the report, the reporter touched on the series of finals that have been experienced between both sides right from when the Copa was authoritatively tied to the infamous Franco. The highlights the reporter made of Franco really instilled a great measure of hate in me against RM & everythin’ about it although I immediately let go of the hate (and I’ve got this strong conviction that what Perez is doin’ now is the financial replica of what Franco did authoritatively and repressively). But for all the despicable perpetrations of Franco, I feel like Barça should make Madrid suffer drastically by thrashin’ them convincingly. Culés, just watch on tonight as our boys stuff them with a painful Manita.

    Visca Barça!!!
    Força Barça!!!

  13. Mike M says:

    Hopefully we can get our first important trophy of the season tonight.

    I’m pretty sure Madrid will play the same as they did in Clasico 1, so we need to take advantage of that and suffocate them, building up slowly and being clinical, to finish the game off early.

    Di Stefano’s comments must seriously be harming Madrid, their best ever player critisising the way they play while praising Their fiercest rivals.

    Hope Pinto does well in goal and that the team helps him.

  14. barcacentralomer says:

    I don’t have an issue with Pinto starting ahead of VV. While Di Stefano’s comments are a pleasant surprise, IMO Barca should focus on their game and not worry about the media circus surrounding the 4 Classicos.

    Irrespective of Mou and his malicious mindgames , Barca should concentrate on their game plan and how they are going to cut out their mistakes especially the lack of clinical finishing upfront. If Barca can gobble up their chances at the other end, then I don’t see why we can’t win the final. Villa has been disappointing but he won’t get better on the bench so let him play and rediscover his scoring touch. Form is temporary but class is permanent. I don’t know if its me but Iniesta looked ineffective for large parts of the game at the Bernabeu, wonder whats up with the Don or maybe Pepe was just too good. One of my favourites Pedro is also due a return to form and maybe he’s waiting to score a winner in a final.

    The makeshift defence at the centre is another worry but this isn’t something that can be fixed at this stage of the season and we have to hope it can hold against a Real/Mou side that are very dangerous on the counterattack. A defence minus Puyol and Abidal will struggle without a doubt but lets hope our offence will take their opportunities and lessen the pressure on their team mates at the back. Masch IMO should partner Pique because Busi seems sluggish at the back and should return to his normal slot alongside Xavi and Iniesta.

    Lets go get our first trophy of 2011 guys!

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