BARCELONA SPAIN - JANUARY 12: Head coach Josep Guardiola FC Barcelona reacts during the Copa del Rey quarter final first leg match FC Barcelona and Betis at Camp Nou on January 12 2011 in Barcelona Spain. Barcelona won 5-0. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
The first leg of the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League has ended, with three teams almost but certainly heading for the semi-finals; and yes, a Clasico is on the cards!
Before we can really start talking about a possibility of a Spanish duel,Barcelonahas to tackle the tricky Ukrainians atDonetsk. They are likely to giveBarcelonaa tough time but a 5-1 demolition certainly seals the deal forBarcelona.
On the other hand, Jose Mourinho leads his side toWhite Hart Lanewith one foot in the semi-finals. Before the first leg, Mourinho said he was happy if his side could come out with a nil nil draw… and overcoming 4 goals against a Mourinho side seems near to impossible!
Jose Mourinho has never won againstBarcelonaatCampNou. But he's had the prestige of knockingBarcelonaout of the Champions League with both Chelseaand Inter Milan. Having said that, we all know about Jose Mourinho—a class act—and the UEFA Champions League is his stage.
Real Madrid's star-studded lineup, however, depicts a different challenge altogether.
First,Barcelonaknows Real Madrid inside out. They have played just once against Real Madrid this season, but being in the same league gives them the opportunity to scrutinize their title challengers more closely.
Secondly, Jose Mourinho does not have the same luxury that he had with Inter: a keeper on top of his game, Maicon and Cambiasso. To beat thisBarcelonaside, Mourinho cannot rely on this side to defend for 90 minutes and hit on the break when an opportunity arises. He does not have aSamuel Eto'o, who's equally good with his defensive qualities.
Barcelona, however, do not have a Plan B. This was something Mourinho exploited in the Champions League with Inter last season and can again use to his advantage. Cut the passes, pack the midfield andBarcelonahave nowhere to go.
Mourinho's strength and fame lies in his ability to foresee the opposition's tactics and plan accordingly. His triumph with FC Porto was no fluke and his second Champions League win came after defeating the three champions, Chelsea,Barcelonaand Bayern Munich.
Calling the odds on this one would be tricky...and we might actually see different tactics employed by both managers. The winner, of course, goes toLondon, Pep's favorite destination.
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