Can Jose give his side the 'Pep' talk they need?
Barcelona v Real Madrid
Wednesday 21:00 - live on Sky Sports 2
Match odds: Barcelona 8/13 Draw 16/5 Real Madrid 4/1
Since being installed at Real Madrid Jose Mourinho has been desperately trying to duplicate his Inter Milan side that physically out muscled Barcelona back in 2010 in the Champions League semi-finals. The Portuguese tactician pulled it off in the Copa del Rey final last season when Cristiano Ronaldo settled it in extra-time with a thumping header, however memories are fading fast what with Los Merengues only having won just that game in their last twelve attempts.
The first leg at El Bernabeu was a game of two halves. The first half, with the exception of Pepe's 17th minute yellow card, was executed perfectly by a group of players whose individual creativity has been beaten out of them. Jose Mourinho would have been unfazed about the other team looking the better side, he is in the results game and Ronaldo's counter attacking first half strike signified that he was winning.
The only two stumbling blocks in The Special One's master plan are yellow cards and fitness levels. It is clear for all to see that his players are physically superior to that of Pep Guardiola, however once key yellow cards are awarded and a simply foul can no longer break up the relentless passing and movement of Barcelona, then even the superior athletes get tired and gaps begin to appear. And when gaps appear the last people you want around are Messi and co because they will be found.
All that said and done, Real Madrid are currently five points clear at the top of La Liga, and 4/1 for them to win at the Nou Camp has to be a value shout. Moreover the 11/4 about Real Madrid draw no bet is a must when considering that Barcelona will be trying to hold on to their slender 1 goal advantage.
The Unders Markets could also be a good bet, granted the experience and talent on the field screams goals, and that was recently demonstrated with both teams winning their respective La Liga matches 4-1 on the weekend. There is a danger with these two that they cancel each other out though and under 2.5 goals can be backed at a decent 11/8.
For the Match Winner it would be difficult to offer anything other than an enhancement centered on the two best attacking players in World football. Lionel Messi for once wasn't on the scoresheet at El Santiago bernabeu whilst his rival scored the first (Ronaldo 4/1 to score first). If both players find the net at the Nou Camp we have enhanced the price from 10/3 to Match Winner odds of 4/1.
The Copa del Rey semi-final second leg will follow on nicely from Manchester City's trip to Anfield and will be an El Clasico that could set the trend for the rest of the 2011-2012 season. A big loss for Real could give Barcelona the impetus to overthrow Jose Mourinho's side at the top of La Liga, whilst a positive result for Los Merengues could get the fans back on side and give them a fighting chance to deny Barcelona yet more Trophies.