Madrid, Jan 24 (IANS) Barcelona and Real Madrid face each other for the ninth time since April when they play the return leg of their Copa del Rey semifinal Wednesday night at Camp Nou.
Barca go into the game with a 2-1 advantage from the first leg after outplaying their rivals at the Santiago Bernabeu and the result means that Madrid need to score at least two goals in order to have any chance of reaching the semifinals.
Hostile reception for Madrid is a certainty after the physical approach used by Jose Mourinho’s side in the first leg, while Mourinho himself can expect a rough ride from the Barca fans after his aggression against their assistant coach Tito Vilanova in a Supercup in August.
Mourinho walked behind Vilanova before deliberately sticking his finger in his eye, an action which earned him a two game suspension.
What is not certain is whether or not central defender Pepe will be in the Madrid side. Pepe was criticized from almost all sectors after deliberately stepping on Lionel Messi’s hand in the first leg.
Although Pepe was included in Madrid’s squad for the weekend game at home to Athletic club Bilbao, a supposed muscle injury kept him out of the game and he also failed to train with the squad Monday.
Alvaro Arbeloa will return to the side after being suspended in the first leg, while Mourinho must now decide whether he plays a more attacking line up than what played in the first leg.
There are still doubts over the fitness of Angel di Maria, while Kaka could play in midfield alongside Mesut Ozil.
Barcelona go into the game in high spirits following their 4-1 win away to Malaga. Pep Guardiola was able to rest key players such as Xavi Hernandez, Carles Puyol and Cesc Fabregas all watched the match from the bench and will be fresh to start Wednesday.
As usual attention will be on Messi, who scored another brilliant hat-trick at the weekend and the Camp Nou fans will be expecting another match-winning display.