Copa Del Rey 2013: Biggest Keys for Real Madrid Victory in Derby Final
Real Madrid booked their place in the final of the 2013 Copa del Rey after a sensational 3-1 defeat of arch rivals Barcelona at Camp Nou.
Whilst Los Blancos still sit behind their opponents in the Spanish domestic competition, they will likely head into the final as clear favorites given their strong Champions League presence and the recent crushing victory over Barcelona in the competition.
And whilst Atletico Madrid will be a tough test, this match should fall the way of the reigning La Liga champions, providing that they can do a couple of things.
Here's the biggest keys for Real Madrid to earn victory in the final.
Play Raphael Varane on Radamel Falcao
Youngster Raphael Varane has seemingly burst on to the spot light at Real Madrid, with the youngster proving that he can be a true shut-down defender.
A big performance against Manchester United in the Champions League was shown to be true again in the Copa del Rey semifinals against Barcelona, where he not only shut down Lionel Mesi and Wayne Rooney for United, but also got forward and attacked well himself.
For a 19-year-old defender to keep Messi scoreless and without a single shot on goal for the match was pure brilliance from Varane. He'll certainly start in the final for Madrid and will likely pick up star striker Radamel Falcao from the opening whistle.
If Madrid is to win here, they'll need to shut out Falcao. The Colombian international is a dynamic and powerful striker who can finish from anywhere on the pitch, which Varane will no doubt have drilled into him by Jose Mourinho in the build-up to the final.
If they can shut down Falcao, Madrid will go a long way to winning this final. Especially, if Varane can keep him from having a shot on goal as well.
Attack Atletico Down the Right
When this local derby was played in La Liga during the year, Real Madrid won 2-0 and probably should have won by three or four goals in reality. Their attack on both wings was completely dominant and effective, and they will no doubt look to do the same again in the final.
And whilst superstar Cristiano Ronaldo will likely line up on the left wing to begin with and Angel Di Maria on the right, Madrid must attack the right all early.
The right was shown to be very weak under pressure when they played earlier in the season, and with Ronaldo drifting into the middle and Ozil drifting out to the right to help Di Maria, Los Blancos can really get their attacking efficiency going again in the final.
Atletico's left defender Cata Díaz completed just 27 of his passes when they met before and only made one effective clearance. Their left midfielder Arda Turan, made just two tackles, no interceptions and completed a woeful 13 passes in total—the fewest from any outfield player.
Those numbers (per WhoScored.com) show just how effective Madrid can be in the final if they continue to attack Atletico Madrid down the right.
Keep Their Shape in the Middle
This final point sounds perhaps a little strange given the attacking dominance of Madrid, but they must still be careful to keep their shape in midfield here.
Atletico Madrid possess the ability to hurt them on the counter attack if given the opportunity, and as seen against Manchester United, Madrid's willingness to shift the balls to the wings and attack from there can sometimes leave them exposed in the middle.
Playing Kaka could be an interesting option for Mourinho to explore here to counter that, with the veteran in sublime form of late for Madrid.
Either way, much of this will depend on the passing strengths and positional play of Xabi Alonso, who should anchor this Madrid attack in the final.
If he can set himself up well, and stop the likes of Mario Suarez bringing the ball out of midfield, then Real Madrid should be primed for a strong night offensively and should see goals as a result. Which, in turn, could well bring them the 2013 Copa del Rey title.
What do you think the biggest keys for Real Madrid are?
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