Barcelona vs. Real Madrid: 5 Things Madrid Must Do to Win at the Nou Camp

Thomas HallettCorrespondent IIJanuary 24, 2012

Barcelona vs. Real Madrid: 5 Things Madrid Must Do to Win at the Nou Camp

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    Despite Jose Mourinho going to great lengths to surprise Barcelona and perhaps cause a shock victory over their fierce rivals, the Real Madrid manager has thus far been unable to overcome one of his great hurdles whilst in the capital—defeat Barcelona in 90 minutes.

    During the first leg of the Copa del Rey Quarterfinal last week, Barcelona were once again magnificent. They highlighted their strength in front of goal as neither of their two goal scorers were attackers, and once more managed to fend off the challenge Jose Mourinho put ahead of them.

    But for Madrid, it may too difficult a task to overturn the deficit in the cup.

    However, if they are to get anything from the game then there are a number of areas which should be of particular focus for Mourinho and his players.

Play Their Own Game

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    Real Madrid are rightfully praised for being the best counter-attacking side in the world, so why not use this strength against a Barcelona who do show weaknesses in defence?

    Of course, that means allowing Barcelona to become comfortable during the game, giving them the lion's share of possession and inviting them to feel secure.

    With Dani Alves bombing forward on a regular basis and Barcelona's shape constantly shifting, there will be plenty of room to attack against a team who like to play a high line and contain the game in their opponents half.

    Obviously Barcelona have means of combating such threats—getting the ball off them and forcing mistakes is an almost impossible job but can be done.

Don’t Play Pepe in Midfield

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    Now there will be many reasons why Pepe should not be welcomed back into the Real Madrid squad, let alone the midfield, following his disgraceful behaviour in the last Clasico. But from a footballing perspective, Pepe offered extremely little alongside Xabi Alonso and only really managed to limit Madrid's game as they looked to go forward.

    Jose Mourinho—who has chosen to deploy Pepe in this midfield role before—was looking for the player to add aggression to the centre of the pitch, stretching the rules of the game as far as he could without doing anything illegal.

    But the Portuguese was barely a presence outside of his stamp on Lionel Messi, attempting just 17 passes. Lassana Diarra and Hamit Altintop appeared to be far more effective in attempting to stop Barcelona's advances.

Cristiano Ronaldo on the Left Wing

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    Despite Cristiano Ronaldo lining up for Real Madrid on the left side of attack on a regular basis, it is here where they may enjoy their most successful passages of play.

    Ronaldo's pace and trickery on the wing in the last Clasico gave Dani Alves something to think about: Does he continue to go forward and support the attack, or does he stay back due to the threat of the Portuguese attacker?

    It allows the game to be stretched in favour of Madrid's game. Xabi Alonso, like his opposite number at Barcelona, Xavi, is the centre-point of their counter-attacks, launching diagonal passes into the wide areas.

    Ronaldo's presence does a lot for Madrid going forward—and defensively as we saw in their last meeting—while also nullifying Barcelona's attack from the right wing.

Exploit the Weakness in Pinto

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    Prior to the first leg of the Copa del Rey between the two sides, there were obvious calls for Pep Guardiola to drop his cup keeper and stick with Victor Valdes. Naturally the Barcelona manager wanted to keep faith with his back-up goalie and persisted with him despite his flaws.

    With Cristiano Ronaldo's opening goal of the tie there was evidence of where Barcelona were most vulnerable and that Pinto could be got at. If Madrid are to get something out of the tie at the Nou Camp then they should be instructed to test Pinto as much as possible, challenging his uncertainty as a keeper and crowding the penalty box.

    Despite Victor Valdes' mistake that led to Madrid's goal in the league Clasico, the keeper and Barcelona continued to play their game of passing out from defence.

    Obviously, Madrid can once more look to gain something from the way Barcelona move the ball from back to front. Forced errors may be key to an unlikely Madrid victory.

Make Them Play Wide and Cross Balls into the Middle

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    As has been mentioned on a number of occasions, Dani Alves is extremely important to Barcelona's game. He stretches defences to the wide positions and allows others the space to play through the centre of the penalty area.

    But much like other teams in La Liga have done this season, it will be important for Real Madrid to maintain a compact defence, forcing Barcelona to send crosses into the box in the hope of winning headers in the six-yard box.

    With players such as Sergio Ramos and Ricardo Carvalho playing against Lionel Messi and Cesc Fabregas—who has shown considerable ability in the air—for aerial battles, there will surely only be one winner.


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