It’s El Clasico time and the Santiago Bernabeu is set to witness a thriller. After drawing 1-1 at the Camp Nou, the Blaugranes will need to turn it on away from home if they are to progress to the final of the Copa del Rey. Contrary to our average form on the road, Real are in good form at the Bernabeu. The first leg saw Madrid force the upper hand in the first half but falter due to Barcelona’s resurgence in the second half. A lot remains to be seen in the upcoming tie, so without wasting any further time, let’s head right into the three things Barcelona need to do to win against eternal rivals Real Madrid:
Convert their chances
It’s not an understatement to say that Barcelona possess one of the most lethal attacks in the contemporary game. With Philippe Coutinho, Ousmane Dembele, Malcom, Luis Suarez and of course Lionel Messi in the fray, there are limitless possibilities to what they can achieve when they are in sync. But February has brought in a host of problems in the attacking department with attackers not living up to their potential. Perhaps the biggest proof is the Champions League draw against Lyon wherein the Blaugranes had a tally of 25 shots attempted but failed to convert. Luis Suarez especially, has been criticized for squandering golden chances. But after some sort of renaissance against Sevilla, Barcelona will be hoping to spring back to life and knock out Los Blancos.
Up the tempo from the off
The only way Barcelona have progressed to the Copa semi-finals is by defeating their opponents at home by a sizable goal margin. Which is why it is deeply alarming to notice that their performance in the last three Copa away games has been dreadful to say the least. They lost to Sevilla and Levante but desperately managed to win 1-0 against minnows Cultural Leonesa in a cut-throat game. And in the two lost fixtures (and in general whenever they have lost), Barcelona have displayed a below-par first half performance often conceding in the opening 45 minutes. Real on the other hand, have been in good form at home in February, winning four and losing one out of their last five home games. They have scored majorly inside the first 45 minutes to seal the game and that is what Barcelona must avoid. With Arthur back in the squad, if they manage to keep up the tempo with precise, purposeful passing and clinical finishing, Real will be under tremendous pressure to score which will lead to errors. But keeping in mind it’s Real, that’s the time when they will attempt counters out of thin air: something Barcelona must manage to defend.
Stats can’t possibly fathom the tremendous nature of a full throttle counter-attack led by the men in white. Always hunting for the ball by pressurizing the opponent, all it takes is just one chance to overturn the score line. Though in recent years (and especially after the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo) they have relied more on possession-based football, their counter-attacks are possibly the worst nightmare a manager can face. While Barcelona are no strangers to this, their defending against counters has always been in question. But with Samuel Umtiti available to feature for the upcoming fixture, Barcelona must somehow defend well because Real will spare no chance.