Barcelona vs. Real Madrid: 6 Bold Predictions for Copa Del Rey Semifinal 2nd Leg
The preamble starts here.
This week will see bewildering brilliance, childish arguments, high-tempo action and one-upmanship between the players and press of Catalunya and Madrid.
It is, of course, the return of El Clasico—and not just one, but two.
On Tuesday night the Camp Nou stages the first one, but not just the first one, the biggest one.
With everyone close to an agreement that Barcelona will win La Liga, the league Clasico in Madrid on Saturday takes second place to the Copa del Rey semifinal.
With that in mind, here are some bold predictions ahead of Part One...
Jordi Roura to Stick with Same Predictable 11
Anyone who has kept half an eye on Barcelona this season will be able to tell you their lineup for the big matches when they come around:
Victor Valdes; Dani Alves, Gerard Pique, Carles Puyol, Jordi Alba; Sergio Busquets, Xavi Hernandez, Cesc Fabregas; Andres Iniesta, Lionel Messi, Pedro Rodriguez.
And when Real Madrid roll into Catalunya on Tuesday, expect them to go with the same 11.
Both David Villa and Cristian Tello played their part in Saturday's comeback win against Sevilla, as Barca showed the width they lacked against AC Milan.
On the back of that they may feel they have played their way into contention, history this season, however, suggests it will be the same Barca that has gone before.
Kaka to Start
Kaka's last three performances in La Liga have been as consistently good, if not dazzlingly brilliant, as anything he has offered since his move to Spain.
That consistency culminated with his best performance of the three against Deportivo la Coruna on Saturday night.
The Brazilian leveled the scores at 1-1 with a fantastic finish from the edge of the box. He then played a wonderful reverse pass in the buildup to Gonzalo Higuian's winner.
With talk of Cristiano Ronaldo playing as a No.9, as Jose Mourinho grows increasingly frustrated with the offerings of his strikers, Angel Di Maria being in and out of Mou's good books and Kaka's return to form, the 30-year-old could be set to start on Tuesday night.
Sami Khedira to Score First
Definitely not renowned for his scoring, it was Sami Khedira who opened the scoring when Real Madrid dealt the deciding blow in last season's title race at Camp Nou.
And although hardly in free-scoring form—just two in La Liga this season—there seems to be the impression that the German is taking more chances to get forward.
Since Christmas the 25-year-old's shots-per-game rate has ticked up to around one (via whoscored.com), with seven coming in his last three starts—including three, only one on target, though, against Manchester United.
If Khedira continues with this newfound freedom to get further forward—possibly brought on by Xabi Alonso saving his legs more and more—then there's the chance he could open the Clasico scoring once again.
Real Madrid to Have a Man Sent off
The 1st leg at the Bernabeu ended 1-1, but most surprisingly the yellow card count was only 3-3 and neither side picked up a red card.
With the stakes raised on Tuesday night, though, it is unlikely that the card count will remain so low.
Throw in the return of Portuguese defender Pepe, and the chances of a red card go through the roof.
Not just because of Pepe's history in this fixture—he stamped on Messi in the cup last season—but because Barcelona are often out to get him too, so much so that they have supposedly filmed him in past Clasicos.
Sergio Busquets to Continue to Unite Opinions
Once upon a time, not so long ago actually, Sergio Busquets was very much football's version—in Spain at least—of marmite.
People loved him; people hated him.
Carles Puyol recently said: "Busquets is the best midfielder in the world. He’s a vital part of our team," and it seems people are beginning to agree with him.
Where most teams play a double pivot, Barca play Busquets. On Tuesday night, in front of a worldwide audience, the 24-year-old should continue to unite people in agreement of how talented he is.
There Will Be at Least Four Goals
The 1-1 scoreline at the Bernabeu in the first leg was not a total surprise, but more goals were expected.
Three of the last six encounters between Real Madrid and Barcelona have ended with four or more goals, another two with three and just that last outing with two.
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are always likely to score, while at the other end Barcelona have conceded in their last 11 games.
Madrid's Diego Lopez was beaten all-too-easily at his near post on Saturday night too, so expect goals to return to this battle on Tuesday.