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El Clasico 2013: What Copa Del Rey Semifinal Means for Both Teams Moving Forward

BARCELONA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 26:  Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid celebrates scoring his sides opening goal during the Copa del Rey semi final second leg match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid CF at the Camp Nou on February 26, 2013 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)
Jasper Juinen/Getty Images
Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistFebruary 27, 2013

For Real Madrid, Tuesday's 3-1 win over Barcelona may have helped to salvage what was shaping up to be an otherwise disappointing season.

For Barca, the loss simply means it won't be winning the Copa Del Rey this year—which was likely the team's third priority at this point.

Tuesday began a huge stretch of games for Real Madrid, and the win gives Los Blancos a positive note to start on. While a win over Barcelona on Saturday would be a positive as well—you always want to beat your rival, after all—it will basically have no bearing on the La Liga title race.

Barca is currently 12 points clear of Atletico Madrid and 16 points clear of Real Madrid with 13 games remaining. It would take a meltdown of epic proportions from Barcelona to allow Atletico back into the title hunt, let alone Los Blancos.

And seeing as Barca have already won 22 of 25 La Liga games this year, I don't see that meltdown happening. 

But beyond sticking it to their rival, Real Madrid would love to have the momentum of beating Barca twice in one week as it goes to face Manchester United in the Champions League next week. Los Blancos have something of a daunting task in that match, as they tied the Red Devils 1-1 in the first leg.

That means United earned a coveted away goal and Real Madrid must score a goal if they hope to advance.

A scoreless tie is meaningless.

Certainly, an away game at Old Trafford isn't too intense a stage for Real Madrid, but heading into this game on the heels of two big wins would be huge.

For Barca, the loss—and the severity of it—will certainly be difficult to take.

However, at this point the big prizes are La Liga and Champions League titles, not the Copa Del Rey.

Likewise, a loss to Real Madrid on Saturday coupled with an Atletico Madrid win over Malaga could give the second-place team hope.

On the other hand, Malaga is a very talented team. If Barca wins and Atletico Madrid loses, the title race will be over with the Catalans holding a 15-point lead.

So Saturday's game for Real Madrid and Barcelona still has a whole lot of importance, though for very different reasons for each team. For Barca, the extremely slim chance the Catalans will blow a massive lead in the league would be increased with a loss.

For Real Madrid, it's all about momentum moving forward as the team turns its sights on winning the Copa Del Rey and Champions League.

It's an El Clasico, after all—there's always something at stake. La Liga might not be the prize for both teams this year, but that won't stop this spirited rivalry from being a must-watch game.

 

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