Real press for Copa trophy

Real Madrid aim to end trophy drought when they meet Barcelona in the Copa del Rey final.

    Mourinho was criticised for his cautious defensive tactics against Barcelona in Saturday's 'El Clasico' [EPA]

    In the second of four meetings between Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona within the space of 18 days, Real are hoping to end their three-year silverware drought with victory in the Copa del Rey final on Wednesday.

    Real drew against Barcelona in 'El Clasico' on Saturday night in the Primera Division, and next week both clubs will be back in action in the semifinals of the European Champions League.

    Wednesday's domestic cup final at the Mestalla Stadium will see the two clubs face each other in the Copa del Rey final for the first time in 21 years. They have met in the final five times with Barca edging three wins.


    Since their first head-to-head last weekend in the league, the debate has been about who can claim the psychological edge, although the 1-1 draw virtually assured Barcelona the title.

    Barcelona remain eight points clear in the league after the game at the Bernabeu where Leo Messi put them ahead from the penalty spot before Cristiano Ronaldo replied also with a spot kick.

    Real coach Jose Mourinho faces a tactical dilemma ahead of Wednesday's final.

    Mourinho approached Saturday's match with an ultra-cautious approach that was criticised by former Real great Alfredo Di Stefano.

    The club's honorary president described Barcelona as a lion playing with a mouse and called for a different strategy.

    "Saturday's game should give pause for thought on how to face up to the next because trying to play Barcelona on the break clearly isn't the most adequate," the 84-year-old Di Stefano wrote in the sports daily Marca.

    "Barca treat the ball with respect, adoration, they almost pamper it. To watch this team in action is a delight."

    Mourinho's side sat back at the Bernabeu on Saturday in the hope of stealing a goal on the break, frustrating Barca enough to prevent his opposite number Pep Guardiola making it six wins from six games against Real.

    Mourinho was aiming to avoid a re-run of the 5-0 thrashing Real suffered at the Nou Camp back in November.

    Mourinho's decision to convert Pepe from centre-back into midfield lynchpin with two other holding midfielders was his major tactical change on Saturday and the player he sacrificed was Mesut Ozil.

    The young German, however, turned the game with his darting runs and clever passes when he came on as a late substitute and Mourinho is likely to include him on Wednesday, perhaps at the expense of a recognised number nine.

    Defender Raul Albiol is suspended after his red card at the weekend which may mean Sergio Ramos moves across into the centre alongside Ricardo Carvalho.

    Puyol return

    Saturday's game also marked the return of Barcelona captain Puyol who missed the last three months with a knee injury.

    It was a welcome comeback then for Puyol ahead of key games but it turned sour when he pulled up in the second half with a hamstring strain. However, it is not as serious as first thought and there is a chance he will be ready for Wednesday.

    "I am very happy to be back and I only have a muscle problem now which has nothing to do with the knee injury.

    "It was the perfect place to return at the Bernabeu and it all went fine until I felt the back of my leg," said Puyol.

    "We will have to see how it goes whether I'll be alright for the final but at the moment it is looking difficult."

    SOURCE: Agencies


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