Barcelona vs. Real Madrid  1 - 3

Article

Varane hails Real masterclass

27 February 2013 19:30

Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane says his side can beat anyone when they play like they did in their 3-1 Copa del Rey win at Barcelona.

Real sealed a place in the final of the cup competition by overcoming the Catalans in Tuesday's second leg, and the French youngster is delighted with his side's performance.

"We are happy and when we play like that, as a team, we know we can win," Varane told Real's official website.

"Now we have to move forward and think about the final and our next matches. Barcelona are a difficult team to defend against because they have very fast players, so we played tight together and tried not to leave space."

The 19-year-old has received plenty of plaudits for his performances over the two legs, and he feels that playing in high-pressure games is beneficial for his career.

"I try to improve and learn, that is good for my career. I'm ready to play and to help the team and that is what I am here for."

Real meet Barca again in La Liga at Santiago Bernebeu on Saturday.

Article

Fabregas: Barca must learn from defeat

27 February 2013 11:28

Cesc Fabregas says that Barcelona must learn from their 3-1 Copa del Rey defeat against arch-rivals Real Madrid on Tuesday evening.

The Catalans recorded a favourable 1-1 draw at the Santiago Bernabeu in the first leg of the semi-final tie against Madrid, but they were brushed aside in the return fixture, with two Cristiano Ronaldo goals and a Raphael Varane header meaning Jordi Alba's late goal was nothing more than a consolation.

"We have to learn from this defeat. We have to give more," Fabregas said after the match.

"We have to pick ourselves up, move forward and win on Saturday. The two most important titles are coming up and we have to move forward.

"The loss against Madrid has nothing to do with the one against Milan. They are two different competitions.

"I believe in this team. We’re a bit down but starting tomorrow we have to start working hard because we represent a very important institution."

Barcelona will have the opportunity to seek immediate revenge on Real Madrid, when they travel to the Bernabeu in La Liga on Saturday.

Article

Roura: Real deserved to win

27 February 2013 01:48

Stand-in Barcelona coach Jordi Roura admitted Real Madrid were far superior in their 3-1 victory in the Copa del Rey clash on Tuesday.

An early goal from Cristiano Ronaldo set the tone before the Portuguese attacker doubled the lead in the second half, and Raphael Varane's header ensured that Jordi Alba's late effort meant nothing as the Blancos went through to face Sevilla or Atletico Madrid in the Spanish cup final.

"In the first round and in the Supercopa, the two teams were matched. They were decided by details. [But tonight, Madrid] were far superior and we lacked effectiveness," Roura said.

"In football you cannot always control things; it is a game of mistakes. Madrid are one of the best teams around on the break. This is a thing that we knew, and we tried to control it but we lacked wisdom. That makes Madrid a great team.

"In La Liga, we have made a great effort. The first half [of the season] was the best ever. I do not think that this will affect us; perhaps this will give us peace of mind, because we have the league to focus on. But we do not have it won, so we must keep fighting."

Barca face Madrid again on Saturday but that match is considered less important as the Liga is almost in Barca's grasp, but early in March they will be tested against AC Milan in the Champions League.

Roura admitted the defeat in the Copa del Rey is hard to swallow, but demanded his players turn their frustration into focus as they seek to overturn a two-goal deficit in the second leg of their last-16 tie against the Rossoneri.

"The attitude of my players was commendable. We will overcome this bump," the coach said.

"I have confidence in my team, and we will be helped by our great fans, I'm sure.

"I want to thank the fans for how they behaved tonight towards the team. We knew the difficulty of playing against Real Madrid.

"We've lost our Copa del Rey title, but our league situation is very favourable. It is essential for us. We also have an important match against AC Milan [to prepare for]. The Champions League and the league are major challenges that we'll fight for.

"When you are eliminated from a competition, players are sad, but still very competitive. We must recover. Madrid will try to catch up to our good league level.

"It's true that our fitness has cycles and we may have reached a fair bit [of a slump]. I do not know if this is because of the tough matches we've played. [However,] I have no doubt that on Saturday things will be different.

"With hindsight it is easy to say, but we knew we would find this game tough. Madrid have been effective with their counter-attacking football. But I do not think this game has [had much of an] effect on our game with Milan. Madrid play differently; Milan will be more conservative."

Article

Ronaldo hails ´perfect´ performance

27 February 2013 01:23

Cristiano Ronaldo has branded Real Madrid's performance in the 3-1 Copa del Rey victory over Barcelona on Tuesday evening as 'perfect'.

Jose Mourinho's men entered the match at Camp Nou having earned a 1-1 draw in the first leg at Santiago Bernabeu, and a double from the former Manchester United man, followed by a header from Raphael Varane helped los Blancos on their way to a memorable win against their Clasico rivals.

And the Portuguese striker was delighted, praising the attitude of the side as a whole.

"It was a very good game from the first minute to last," he said.

"We were very serious, and showed a great attitude. We played better and scored three goals away from home.

"We are very happy that we've played terrifically. We've played better here than we did at home, that's true.

"We are confident and we are still here. We all like to play here."

Barcelona hold a 16-point lead over Madrid at the top of the table, but Ronaldo has downplayed any suggestions that his side are now solely focused on cup football, insisting any good performance will boost confidence.

"Playing against Barca is always a great motivation. La Liga is still important, but less because of the big gap," he said.

"We have to focus in the league and the Champions [League], we'll try to win everything as usual.

"All players have been perfect, this gives us confidence for the Champions [League]."

The 28-year-old's compatriot, Pepe, was also full of superlatives for the manner of the victory, but assured fans they would look to use this result as a starting block to improve their league form.

"We were brilliant all through the team, we started well, but we have to keep playing well," he said.

"Today we have to enjoy the victory, it's important for our fans and us, but I think that after tomorrow we must focus on Saturday's game."

Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho chose not to face the media after the victory, instead sending injured club captain Iker Casillas.

"Today was a good moment to put the captain of the team in front of the media," the goalkeeper said.

"It is a great moment for all of us but despite this win, we know we have won nothing yet.

"However, it is a great moment to share with the people from Madrid and just tell them to enjoy this victory.

"We have been very disappointing in La Liga this year and I think this result will give us a lot more hope for the rest of the season that we can improve and do well."

Article

Copa del Rey: Barcelona 1 Real Madrid 3 (agg 2-4)

26 February 2013 23:15

Real Madrid stormed into the Copa Del Rey final with an emphatic 3-1 victory over Barcelona in the second leg of their semi-final on Tuesday.

With a 1-1 home draw to overcome from the first leg, Jose Mourinho looked on in jubilation as his team executed their gameplan to perfection, frustrating the Catalans at the back, and through an inspirational Cristiano Ronaldo, giving a counterattacking clinic up front.

The Portuguese superstar opened the scoring from the penalty spot 12 minutes in, becoming the first player to score in six successive Clasicos away from home, and finished off a surging break shortly before the hour mark to put Real in the driving seat.

Raphael Varane put the finishing touches on an unbelievable night for the visitors when he headed home a corner, with Jordi Alba's late goal coming as little consolation for the hosts, as Real now await either Sevilla or Atletico Madrid in the showpiece event on May 18.

Barca started positively, and with only two minutes on the clock, were nearly ahead. Pedro did brilliantly to turn Fabio Coentrao inside out and square for Lionel Messi, who narrowly missed the target from a tight angle.

But instead, it would be Madrid who would take the lead. Ronaldo was simply too quick for Pique, and was tripped up inside the area, leaving the referee with no choice but to award a penalty, from which the Portuguese forward slotted coolly into the bottom corner.

The Catalans exhibited their customary dominance of the ball, but Mourinho's men were ready with discipline and numbers at the back, and a pacy threat on the counter whenever they won the ball.

Referee Alberto Undiano‎, already the villain of the piece in the eyes of the Camp Nou faithful for the decision against Pique, was showered with further venom from the stands after correctly denying penalty appeals for Cesc Fabregas and Pedro.

And the home fans were left frustrated again moments before half time, when Messi drilled a free kick agonizingly into the side netting, with half of the stadium already celebrating a goal.

The hosts went close again minutes after the restart when Diego Lopez parried an effort by Busquets, with Alvaro Arbeloa taking the rebound off the toes of Fabregas from point blank range.

But much like the start of the first half, the chance was spurned, and again, Real would punish their profligacy on the counterattack, this time putting the tie virtually out of reach.

Sami Khedira's sublime first-time pass after winning the ball released Angel Di Maria against Puyol. The Barca captain was left on his backside by the skill of the winger, whose initial shot was parried by Jose Pinto, only for Ronaldo to bury the rebound.

And with 22 minutes left, Real were in dreamland again, when Varane rose highest to head home Mesut Ozil's corner in almost identical fashion to his goal in the first leg.

Flares were set off in the stands as a few home fans lost patience with events on the ptich, but their mood improved ever so slightly just before injury time when Alba ghosted in behind the fullback to slot Andres Iniesta's clipped pass beyond Lopez.

But the damage was long done by the irrepressible visitors, who will now contest the final in three months.

The Clasico drama is not quite done, however, as both sides will lock horns at Santiago Bernabeu in la Liga on Saturday.

Article

Roura reeling at Mallecano appointment

25 February 2013 20:18

Barcelona assistant coach Jordi Roura has slammed referee Alberto Undiano Mallecano ahead of their Copa del Rey clash with Real Madrid.

Mallecano took charge of Barcelona's only La Liga defeat this season at Real Sociedad, and will officiate again for the semi-final second leg at Camp Nou on Tuesday.

He also refereed the 2011 Copa del Rey final between Real and Barca, won by Madrid, and the Barca assistant expressed his disappointment at the decision.

"He (Mallecano) is the referee we have for tomorrow, we can't do anything about that," Roura said.

"We are not supposed to judge whether he is a good or a bad referee, but it is a fact that with him our stats are worse than with anyone else. There's no need to go further: our only league defeat was with this referee.

"And, obviously, we all still have fresh in our memory the permissiveness he showed in the last cup final we played against Madrid. We are aware of that, so we can only wish him luck.

"The best thing that can happen to a referee is to be completely unnoticed and that his decisions don't mark the game result."

Roura condemned some of Real's tackling in the 1-1 first leg draw at the Bernabeu back in January.

Despite the luxury of an away goal, Roura doesn't believe Barca are favourites to reach the final even though they will host the second leg.

"Obviously I prefer to play this match in Camp Nou because we are going to be with our fans and that always helps a lot," he said.

"But in this sort of matches to talk about who is favourite is very difficult as they are used to be very tough ones. In the end little things will decide everything."

Article

Fabregas calls for Barca´s best

25 February 2013 14:02

Cesc Fabregas says Barcelona will have to be on top of their game when they face Real Madrid in the second leg of their Copa del Rey clash.

The Catalans recorded a 1-1 draw at the Santiago Bernabeu in the first leg, and Fabregas is aware that Real will pose a stern test in Tuesday's return fixture, particularly given his side's laboured form in recent weeks.

"It’s vital to score. We cannot go into the match and wait to see what happens," Fabregas told Barca TV.

"In last year’s Copa del Rey Clasico we had a good result from the away leg yet we were nearly eliminated from the competition.

"Real Madrid are very dangerous and in order to go through we’ll have to play the best football we’re capable of.

"We had our chances to make it 0-2 in Madrid (in the first leg). In the return leg we have to be as effective as possible, because they are very effective.

"We have to be on target in front of goal if we want to get to the final."

Article

Pepe tips Varane for greatness

25 February 2013 06:18

Real Madrid defender Pepe has tipped team-mate Raphael Varane to become one of the best centre-backs in world football.

The French youngster has garnered widespread acclaim, having produced a series of accomplished displays at the heart of Real's defence in 2013.

And Pepe has said he is helping the 19-year-old to ready himself for global success.

Speaking to AS, the Portuguese international said: "He is a very humble guy but he has tremendous quality. At the start of the season, I told him that within two years, he will be one of the best centre-backs in the world.

"I hope he continues with his humility and eagerness to learn because he is already doing so well. I think he can really progress and all of this experience he is getting can only be good for him."

Varane starred in Real's 1-1 draw with Barcelona in the Copa Del Rey last month and, speaking ahead of Tuesday's second leg, Pepe believes progression to the final hinges on the team operating as a unit.

He said: "We need to play as a team, like we try to do in every game.

"If we play that way, we will be in with a good chance of making the final. Playing collectively will boost our chances of winning. We need to remain true to our style of play and do everything the coach tells us to do."

Primera División table

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Primera División table

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