The second leg of the UEFA Champions League semi final between Barcelona and Real Madrid will take place on Tuesday at Nou Camp, which some may have forgotten after a week of controversy.>
Indeed, Jose Mourinho’s unbelievable rant after the first leg stole all the headlines, even though Lionel Messi put in a masterclass to win the game 2-0 in Madrid.
The fallout has been ugly, with Mourinho initially conceded the tie, but Barca boss Josep Guardiola is wise to that and you fancy this game will be tense.
Road to Semis Real Madrid -1st in Group G, above AC Milan, Ajax & Auxerre -Round of 16, defeated Lyon 4-1 on aggregate -Quarter Final, defeated Tottenham 5-0 on aggregate
FC Barcelona -1st in Group D, above FC Kobenhavn & Rubin Kazan, Panathinaikos -Round of 16, defeated Arsenal 4-3 on aggregate -Quarter Final, defeated Shakhtar Donetsk 6-1 on aggregate
Form FC Barcelona -Currently 1st in La Liga, eight points ahead of Real Madrid -Suffered a surprise 2-1 loss away to Real Sociedad, conceding twice late on, showing a long season is beginning to take it’s toll -Lost Copa del Rey final 1-0 to Real Madrid a fortnight ago in extra-time -Barcelona have won every home game during this Champions League campaign
Real Madrid -Currently 2nd in La Liga, eight points behind Barcelona -Also suffered a shock 3-2 home loss to Real Zaragoza. -Won the Copa del Rey a fortnight ago, defeating Barcelona 1-0 in the final -Lost 5-0 at Nou Camp earlier in the La Liga season
Danger man FC Barcelona Lionel Messi A week ago I entered this man’s name in this section of the preview and it’s impossible not to repeat the dose. In last week’s first-leg, Messi’s brilliance was the difference between the two sides as Real negated Barca’s possession play. Messi is the best player in the world for a reason.
Real Madrid Gonzalo Higuain> Real boss Jose Mourinho may have said he had conceded this tie, but a proud club like Los Merengues would never do so. They will need to score goals and Argentina striker Higuain is perhaps the player to let loose.
Team news FC Barcelona -Key midfielder Andres Iniesta is back after a calf injury in a big boost for Barca who missed him in the first leg. -Defender Eric Abidal is also available after a liver tumour. -Gabriel Milito injured his thigh in La Liga on the weekend and is unavailable, along with Maxwell, Adriano and Bojan Krkic.
Real Madrid -German midfielder Sami Khedira is Real’s main injury concern having not played since the Copa del Rey due to an adductor muscle tear. -Real are without suspended duo Sergio Ramos and Pepe.
Coaches Josep Guardiola: “I don’t know what Madrid to expect. They have such a strong team and so many players that they can play in several ways. This is a very tough semi-final tie. We shall see how strong mentally we are tomorrow.”
He added: “Tomorrow we will try to play the best football possible and what happened is in the past. I hope those things we saw last week don’t happen again. We have to be prepared for anything tomorrow: they can attack or defend, but we have to be ready for anything.”
Real assistant Aitor Karanka: “We have to respect people saying that we’re defensive. Cristiano [Ronaldo] said that. Tomorrow we will see if we play defensively or not. It depends if there are 11 players on the pitch. They’re just ways of playing football and the important thing is to be in the final.”
He added: “In football we’re all professional and we’re grown up enough. The Real Madrid coach said it was his fault that we lost the match last week so we are able to be self-critical.
Sports Pundit prediction; FC Barcelona 2-1 Real Madrid