The early goal is the key.
I repeat: the early goal for FC Barcelona is the key.
And not just in the second leg of the Copa semifinal. It's always been the key to this Barcelona team since 2008.
Barcelona's success has come by ball possession, which then leads to a goal. But as we've seen in past Barca disappointments, including the 2010 UEFA Champions League loss to Inter Milan, the 2012 UCL loss to Chelsea and even last season's Liga Clasico loss at the Camp Nou. If Barcelona do not score an early goal at home, it can lead to panic, and potentially, a loss.
Whenever Barcelona do not score a goal by halftime, it almost seems like the Barça players get anxious, which leads to mistakes, lack of concentration and counterattacks.
Barcelona cannot go into halftime of the second leg of the Copa semifinal in a scoreless tie—and of course they cannot be losing at halftime by any means.
It'd be better that Barcelona go into halftime tied at 1-1 than to have a 0-0 scoreline at the break. They need that taste of goal in their mouths.
A scoreless tie at the half could lead Barcelona to get more desperate, take more risky passes and the defenders to move a bit too forward—all of which could lead to Madrid counterattacks.
There's nothing Tito Vilanova or Jordi Roura could teach to their players anything more about scoring. Of course Barcelona will want to score as much as possible, but the players need to understand that they cannot let those golden opportunities get away in the first half. It sets up their rhythm for the rest of the game.
No time for that, "We have 90 minutes to win" mentality.
No, you have to win the first 45 minutes. Don't think of the second half.
Once they are in the the locker room at halftime, then they have another 45 minutes to win.
The two players that need to control the pace and help win the first half of the second leg: Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi. Don Andres's dribbling and passes sets up the tempo, while Messi—who had a quiet game in the first leg—needs to be more involved to set up goal opportunities.
And most importantly: finish, finish, and finish!
Look for the early goal to lead FC Barcelona to the win over Real Madrid in the second leg of the Copa del Rey semifinal. If Barça don't, it may be a frustrating night for el blaugrana.
FC Barcelona had enough to win the first leg, but missed opportunities to seal the win. Now, it all comes down to the Camp Nou.
It's not going to be easy, but I'm confident Barcelona will get it done.
Xoel, The Voice of FC Barcelona
Don't forget to check out my other columns:
3 Things Messi Needs to Do to Expand His Brand Like Jordan
Pep Guardiola Joining Bayern Munich From a Barca Fan's Perspective
Top 10 Barcelona Throwback Kits All Fans Must Own