This Wednesday (21.00, La 1, Gol and TV3) begins a series of three classics, two of the Copa del Rey (day 6 at Camp Nou and day 27 at the Bernabéu) and one of LaLiga (March 2 at Chamartín) , decisive to calibrate the forces of Barcelona and Real Madrid.
The Madridistas are delighted to meet because they need a demanding duel to certify right now if the good feelings won against accessible rivals also reach them to beat the best, none lately so qualified in the Spanish tournaments as Barça, cupper king, champion of the last four editions, 30 titles, seven more than Athletic.
The azulgrana do not lose a Cup eliminator since 2013. It happens that his executioner was precisely Madrid, the same that also defeated him in the 2011 and 2014 finals, games that are remembered for the goals of Cristiano Ronaldo and Bale. Portuguese is no longer there and there are doubts about the ownership of Bale. Madrid is today a new team that expresses itself in the radiant face of Vinicius, in the self-sacrificing effort of Reguilón, in the team spirit of Lucas Vázquez and in the talent of Benzema.
Author of six goals in the last four games, the French center striker is the meeting point of a patient, balanced and stable team that adds five consecutive victories, a sufficient record to explain an optimism that infects the Bernabéu. Endorsed by his curriculum, there is no club in the world that sells better than Madrid.
The optimism of Real Madrid contrasts with the realism of Barça, champion and leader of LaLiga, winner of a very good round of quarterfinals against Sevilla. Barça is backed by the figure of Messi, author of as many goals (29) as the sum of Benzema (18) and Bale (11) and leader of a team that tries to combine LaLiga and the Cup without disguising his obsession for the Copa de Europe.
The 10, top scorer in the classics with 26 goals in 38 games, is now a doubt for the game – he has been called while Dembélé will continue downhill. The Rosario remained paralyzed on Saturday in the match against Valencia and, since then, Barcelona is moving in uncertainty, without knowing what is convenient, prey to the syndrome of Rome. There are times when he seems to be lazy, or tries to manage his efforts, and sometimes he is motivated by a game for which he presumably will not be asked for responsibilities and instead faces as if it were a final, few like the visit of Sevilla ( 6-1).
The hand to hand with Madrid are in any case an unavoidable challenge for Barça regardless of the tournament, including the Cup. Valverde must measure more than ever an alignment that until the last minute will be pending Messi, a player who has curiously never scored a goal to Madrid in the six Cup games despite adding 50 goals, 14 less than the mythical Samitier (64).
Absent by injury Cillessen, the azulgrana is a full-fledged team with different records and a multitude of resources in the defense and the midfield -It is not the same to play with Arthur than with Arturo-, and on the contrary dependent on the front of Messi and Luis Suárez. The different hieroglyphs have always found the same solution in a player that works better as a medium than in the side: Sergi Roberto.
The coach does not want to take risks or bet on players who play with the hand brake put in a round "without favorite" with or without Messi. So said Valverde, who will play with the lineup until the last moment, favored by a rule: play or not, the Barca players must go to the court when the meeting is held at the Camp Nou.
The alternatives of Solari
The Barca coach, always aware that the training does not distort the team, the injuries condition him while the Real Madrid is handled in abundance, always scrutinized by the board presided over by Florentino Perez. It is up to Solari to choose between Vinicius, Lucas Vázquez and Bale, and between Reguilón and Marcelo. It is not a decision if one takes into account that the future of some of the last white technicians depended on the result of the classic: Benitez and Lopetegui signed his dismissal while Zidane was screened from a win (1-2) at the Camp Nou . The appearance of Solari is thus presented as important for his career in Madrid.
The memory of the last 5-1, victory signed without Messi, stimulates Barcelona and stings Madrid. Despite their irregular play, until now Barça have managed to handle the letter, solvents in important meetings, while Real Madrid aspires to boost his candidacy from his passage through the Camp Nou.
Until his last visit, Madrid was given almost as well stadium Barca as Barca Bernabeu, a circumstance that adds interest to the cross now in the semifinals, with Chamartín outcome. Nothing would be better for Madrid than taking off from a victory over Barça in the same way that the Valverde boys' experts would reaffirm their hegemony with a triumph over the new Madrid of Solari. Now it is Vinicius who wants to play against Messi when three months ago the challenger with Lopetegui was Isco.