BARCELONA, SPAIN - APRIL 23: Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona (L) celebrates with his teammates Dani Alves (C) and Ibrahim Afellay after scoring his second team's goal during the La Liga match between Barcelona and CA Osasuna at Camp Nou Stadium on April 23, 2011 in Barcelona, Spain. Barcelona won 2-0. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Real Madrid Vs. Barcelona, 2011 UEFA Champions League: Lionel Messi Lifts Barca To 2-0 Win

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UEFA To Investigate Real Madrid And Barcelona After Champions League Semifinal

After Barcelona's ill-tempered 2-0 win over Real Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League semifinal, it's not a surprise to see UEFA step in and make noise about discipline. So, they're apparently opening up disciplinary cases going after both teams for various incidents during the match. Here's the statement from UEFA:

The case against Real Madrid is in relation to the throwing of missiles, a pitch invasion, the red card shown to Pepe, the dismissal of coach José Mourinho, as well as the inappropriate statement given by Mr Mourinho to the media after the match.

The case against Barcelona regards the red card administered to José Pinto. Both cases will be heard by the UEFA Control and Disciplinary Body on Friday 6 May.

You'll note that there will be no case opened up against Barcelona or Real Madrid for the things that actually made the game unwatchable - the complete lack of respect for the officiating, the overly physical play by the hosts, and the absurd diving from the likes of Dani Alves, Pedro, and Sergio Busquets throughout the match. The pitch invasion, throwing objects, and Mourinho's presser were all pretty inappropriate, but why stop there? Go full force and fix what made that farce of a game so annoying.

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Barcelona Considering Reporting Jose Mourinho Over Conspiracy Remarks

FC Barcelona has not looked kindly on Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho's rather insane post-match outburst regarding the refereeing of Wolfgang Stark at the Santiago Bernabeu, in which he insinuated there was some sort of UNICEF-related conspiracy to give Barcelona victories in the Champions League. Or something - my brain broke midway through reading because I can't handle that much crazy. Anyway, as one might imagine Barcelona didn't take very kindly to being called demons from the eighth circle of hell (Bolgia 10, for those wondering), and are strongly considering filing a complaint about Mourinho's comments:

There will be an 'extraordinary' meeting of the board at 1700 [1600 BST] to discuss the action to be taken after the events of the Bernabeu. Later there will be a press conference at 1900 [1800 BST].

At the press conference after the game, Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho harshly criticised referee Wolfgang Stark and suggested Barcelona receive favourable treatment. The Legal Services of FC Barcelona are considering reporting the Real Madrid coach to the Disciplinary Commission of [European football's governing body] Uefa.

It sounds like El Clasico's going to be just as messy off the pitch as it was on the pitch. Doesn't this sound like such fun?

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Real Madrid Vs. Barcelona: Post-Game Reaction From Jose Mourinho And Cristiano Ronaldo

While Barcelona are celebrating their emphatic 2-0 win over Real Madrid, the losers are nursing their wounds and their pride. The Champions League final at Wembley now looks out of reach - no team has ever overturned a 2-0 first leg  defeat at this stage of the competition, and one has to imagine that they know it, too. Jose Mourinho in particular is furious - we've already shared some of his rather strange remarks that he'd be ashamed to win in such a fashion (there much controversy regarding a game changing red card shown to Pepe with the score still level in the second half), but there are more gems hidden away in his press conference:

The return game is mission impossible. Barcelona have qualified for the final. We had the intention to keep the game at 0-0, then bring on a striker, then a third phase with a No. 10 behind three forwards. But the ref didnt allow it.

At least he's honest. Mourinho's right, too - there's almost no way that the final is anything other than Manchester United vs. Barcelona now. When asked exactly what he said to get himself sent off (he was thrown out of the match shortly after Pepe was shown red), he claimed he said nothing at all:

What did I say to the referee? Nothing, I just laughed. If I say what I feel now, my career ends. I just wonder why.

He didn't say anything - instead, he just gave them a wink and a round of applause. Sarcasm is more than enough to get you sent off these days, not that Mourinho will care that he was sent to the stands. Star player Cristiano Ronaldo also cut a morose figure at the presser:

Playing [with] 10 men isn't easy. 0-0 would have been a good result. 2-0 is very difficult. Messi played very good but it's easier against ten. Do I like to play in a defensive team like Madrid did today? No, but I have to adapt to what the coach wants.

Unhappy players, unhappy coach... goes along with unhappy fans, too. It's been a very very bad day for Real Madrid, who just one week ago were celebrating a Copa del Rey win over these same opponents. How fast things can change.

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Real Madrid Vs. Barcelona: Post-Game Reaction From Pep Guardiola, Gerard Pique And Sergi Roberto

With the action all finished on the pitch we now move to the press conferences, where Real Madrid are rather understandably unhappy while Barcelona are ecstatic. We've already seen Jose Mourinho go off on a bizarre rant about how he would be ashamed to have taken advantage of a bad refereeing decision (in this case, the red card shown to Pepe), but Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola is in a much better mood:

We corrected some things we did badly in the cup final. We played a very good game, team was very aggressive, we won a lot of duels, Keita helped us a lot. We're 90 minutes away from CL final, we're trying to get there.

Guardiola pointedly refused comment when asked about Mourinho's remarks after the game. Gerard Pique, meanwhile, was more than happy to talk about the red card incident:

[Madrid] play at the limit of violence. If you play with fire, you can end up burning yourself. It's always the same, they didn't want to play at football, at their own stadium.

Strong words from the defender, who had a fairly comfortable game, albeit one punctuated by several mistakes which could have been disastrous. And last, but not least, we have Sergi Roberto, who came on for the excellent David Villa with just a few minutes left to play:

I didn't expect to play but it went really well. The team is happy but we try to stay focused for the return leg, there are still 90 minutes left.

Why is that interesting? Because the nineteen-year-old have made a grand total of one appearance for the Barcelona first team prior to the match, and that was in the Copa del Rey. Guardiola bringing him on after the match was one felt like a bit of a calculated insult to Madrid and their fans, but it was also a huge moment in the young midfielder's career.

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Real Madrid Vs. Barcelona: Jose Mourinho Would Be 'Ashamed' To Be In Barcelona's Shoes

Apparently that ban on media communications with players and managers was only temporary, so now we all get to delight in the insanity that is a pissed-off Jose Mourinho.The Real Madrid manager, clearly furious at the red card issued to Pepe midway through the second half, has started talking absolute nonsense. Check it out:

I would be ashamed if I was Barcelona how they won the Champions League in 2009. It was the scandal of Stamford Bridge. This is the scandal of the Bernabeu.

I don't know if it's because of Villar, the UNICEF publicity or what, but I don't understand why this keeps happening. No one has any chance against Barca. Where does all this power come from? To win like this is very nasty.

That's right, everyone, Jose Mourinho would be ashamed to have destroyed Manchester United comfortably in the 2009 Champions League final after admittedly getting rather lucky against Chelsea in the semi-final. Yeah, we get that the red card was dubious at best, but you can hardly be 'ashamed' at taking advantage of good fortune. What was Pep Guardiola supposed to do, tell his players to not score because the decision was so unfair? Nobody likes a sore loser, Jose, no matter how real those grievances may be.

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Real Madrid Vs. Barcelona , 2011 UEFA Champions League: Media Banned From Talking To Players And Managers?

Well this is curious. After a contentious match, we were expecting plenty of strong opinions and juicy quotes, especially from losing coach Jose Mourinho, who was sent to the stands after seeing midfielder Pepe shown a straight red card for a challenge on Dani Alves. Going down to ten men against Barcelona is never a good recipe for success - the Catalans eventually won 2-0 - and the red card was so marginal that Real Madrid have every right to be furious about it. But we're apparently not going to get those quotes, at least according to ESPN:

UEFA have banned all players and both managers from talking to the media right now. Unprecedented.less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply


Like they said, this would be unprecedented. I can only imagine Mourinho is threatening people with a knife or something while Pep Guardiola is giggling with delight. Or maybe the players are all watching replays of that brilliant second goal by Lionel Messi. No matter what, it's a fairly odd situation.

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Real Madrid vs. Barcelona Final Score: Barcelona Claim Vital 2-0 Win Thanks To Lionel Messi Brace

So much for momentum. Barcelona wash away their disappointment in the Copa del Rey with a 2-0 win at the Santiago Bernabeu in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League semifinal clash against Real Madrid thanks to an astonishing brace from Argentine wizard Lionel Messi. Jose Mourinho and Pepe were both dismissed from the match in an incredible second half which saw the visitors gain an almost-unassailable looking league in the tie and seems to be setting up a Manchester United vs. Barcelona final at Wembley next month.

The first half would be difficult to describe as anything but feisty as several players got a little bit out of control. The teams spent almost as much time arguing as they did actually playing football, and there were a couple of absolutely dismal moments - the first coming when Pedro managed to get Alvaro Arbeloa booked after running into the defender and going down clutching his fast, and the second just after halftime when Barcelona backup goalkeeper Jose Manuel Pinto got involved in a scuffle in the tunnel and was shown a straight red card.

There weren't many opportunities in the first forty-five minutes, either. Xavi and Messi combined to give the former a good chance to shoot on goal, but Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas batted away the effort, and at the other end of the pitch Cristiano Ronaldo forced Victor Valdes to spill a long-range effort towards Mesut Ozil for what looked like the opening goal. It was not, for two major reasons: 1) The follow-up shot was saved and 2) Ozil was offside anyway.

The second half began with what looked like a positive change from the hosts, with Ozil replaced by the imposing figure of Emmanuel Adebayor. Real attacked more, making for a much more open match, but it was Madrid who had the first major chance of the half, when David Villa latched onto a Xavi pass and forced Casillas into a remarkable save from which Pedro couldn't quite control the rebound.

Of course, by then, the match had turned for good, because Real Madrid were down to ten men (and had Jose Mourinho banished to the stands as well). Wolfgang Stark had been extraordinarily good at keeping a lid on things in a rather unfriendly match, but when Pepe lunged in on Dani Alves he appeared to buy into the screaming protests and theatrics of the various Barcelona players and produced a straight red when a yellow would have been much more appropriate. Mourinho was sent off for dissent after rather expressively voicing his discontent, and from then on Madrid had little chance of getting a result.

Barcelona earned their inevitable breakthrough after substitute Ibrahim Afellay skinned left-back Marcelo and got to the byline to deliver an inch-perfect cross to Messi, who nicked in ahead of centre back Sergio Ramos to turn the ball home from very close range, leaving Casillas with no chance. Better was to come from the Catalans. With Madrid exhausted and time nearly up, Messi picked up a pass barely inside the Real half and proceeded to beat no less than five defenders before sending a low rolling shot past Casillas into the back of the net. It was an extraordinary individual effort and well worthy of winning a tie.

Make no mistake, the tie is very probably won for Barcelona. They have a 2-0 aggregate lead and, and they're almost certainly not going to lose by that margin to a Madrid without Pepe or Ramos (who picked up a yellow card and a suspension in the second half) at the Camp Nou. Rough times for Jose Mourinho and company, but Pep Guardiola and his players will be celebrating tonight after a deserved victory

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Real Madrid vs. Barcelona, 2011 UEFA Champions League Semifinal: David Villa Substituted As Match Draws To Close

Before Lionel Messi went all Lionel Messi on us, David Villa had probably been the best attacking player on the pitch, but he's off now as Pep Guardiola rubs in his two-goal advantage. Sergio Roberto makes his first appearance in the Champions League and his second for the Barcelona first team, and the Santiago Bernabeu is pretty unhappy about the obvious insult.

Anyway, Madrid are charging around rather aimlessly right now. They're not going to score before the match is over, and they're at a real disadvantage going into the next leg, having to overturn a 2-0 home loss. At least they haven't been as bad as Schalke were in their defeat to Manchester United, but there's absolutely no way to spin this into a positive result. The red card changed everything, and now it looks like we're going to have yet another United-Barcelona final at Wembley in May.

This is the third of four matches between Real Madrid and Barcelona. You can view our coverage of the April 16th and 20th match here and here, with live coverage of Real Madrid vs Barcelona on April 27 in this story stream.

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Real Madrid vs. Barcelona, 2011 UEFA Champions League Semifinal: Messi Makes It 2-0 With Astonishing Individual Effort

Real Madrid will probably happy to end the game now, thinking about it. Barcelona are keeping the ball and just waiting for the tired home team to make a mistake so that they can pad to their lead. If 1-0 would be bad, 2-0 would be disastrous - they can't afford to go to the Camp Nou having to make up a two goal deficit which... oh.

Barcelona are 2-0 down after a beautiful goal by Lionel Messi, who just ran through five Real Madrid defenders to plant a shot past Iker Casillas and in at the far post. That is absolutely magnificent (watch here), and I think it probably wraps up the whole tie. Goodness, that was impressive, although I have to say that I think it was probably going wide before Sergio Ramos got a touch on it right at the end. Whoopsies.

This is the third of four matches between Real Madrid and Barcelona. You can view our coverage of the April 16th and 20th match here and here, with live coverage of Real Madrid vs Barcelona on April 27 in this story stream.

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Real Madrid vs. Barcelona, 2011 UEFA Champions League Semifinal: Emmanuel Adebayor Booked For Awful Foul On Sergio Busquets

Barcelona might have the lead but there's still life in this Real Madrid side, who are causing some big problems in the defence by punting long balls forward for Gerard Pique to thoroughly misjudge. Carles Puyol has to bail his teammate out this time as the centre back lets the ball bounce over his head and almost onto the waiting foot of Angel di Maria. Eventually, Madrid earn a throw near the corner flag, which goes absolutely nowhere.

Goalscorer Lionel Messi then gets involved int he game again with a foul that he manages to avoid a booking for by giving Wolfgang about ten thumbs up, and then he's denied a foul of his own when he was cut down just outside the Real Madrid box. Odd refereeing from the German, which is a shame given the first half he had. Oh, and Emmanuel Adebayor is now in the book too after smashing into Sergio Busquets, which looks like a worse challenge than the one Pepe got sent off for.

This is the third of four matches between Real Madrid and Barcelona. You can view our coverage of the April 16th and 20th match here and here, with live coverage of Real Madrid vs Barcelona on April 27 in this story stream.

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Real Madrid vs. Barcelona, 2011 UEFA Champions League Semifinal: Lionel Messi Goal Gives Barcelona Huge Advantage

A good chance for Real Madrid to cause some problems. Gerard Pique commits a foul about forty yards from goal, and although it's a long way out we've all seen Cristiano Ronaldo put those chances away before. The Portuguese star takes his time lining up the shot and eventually blasts an effort towards Victor Valdes' goal... actually, 'towards' might well be overstating things - the shot doesn't dip and the shot flies well over.

And now Barcelona have scored! Substitute Ibrahim Afellay destroys Marcelo on the right and gets to the byline to make a cross, and who else by Lionel Messi is there to sneak in past Sergio Ramos to smash the ball into the back fo the net from all of a yard. How important could that goal be? Barcelona now lead 1-0 on aggregate against ten-man Madrid with a vital away goal. Real are going to need to come up with a reply and fairly fast, or they'll be going into the second leg at the Camp Nou at a major disadvantage.

This is the third of four matches between Real Madrid and Barcelona. You can view our coverage of the April 16th and 20th match here and here, with live coverage of Real Madrid vs Barcelona on April 27 in this story stream.

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Real Madrid vs. Barcelona, 2011 UEFA Champions League Semifinal: David Villa And Pedro Combine To Almost Open Scoring

Wow, incredibly close to an opener there from Barcelona. Cristiano Ronaldo had headed over from a good Xabi Alonso free kick, but the action is all at the other end where Barcelona ghost through the Real Madrid defence and cause the hosts major problems. Xavi feeds David Villa, and he bursts into the penalty area and draws a phenomenal save from Iker Casillas. The shot is hit with such venom that Casillas can't do anything more than parry it directly onto Pedro's head, but he has no time to direct his header and the ball bounces inches wide of the far post.

To add injury to insult, Marcelo sneakily stamps on the prone Pedro, twisting his knee around and apparently causing him some discomfort. He's almost immediately pulled by Pep Guardiola in Barcelona's first substitution, replaced by Ibrahim Afellay. We've got twenty minutes left and it's still 0-0, but things are all going the visitors' way right now.

This is the third of four matches between Real Madrid and Barcelona. You can view our coverage of the April 16th and 20th match here and here, with live coverage of Real Madrid vs Barcelona on April 27 in this story stream.

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Real Madrid vs. Barcelona, 2011 UEFA Champions League Semifinal: Pepe Shown Straight Red For Tackle On Dani Alves

Goodness gracious. Real Madrid's Pepe has just been sent off for a... marginal challenge on Dani Alves. The midfielder went in high on a 50-50 ball and just about nicks Alves on the shin, but the right-back goes tumbling and writhing in apparent agony, summoning a stretcher to bear him off the pitch. At the risk of making light of injury, I'd put good money on him not being hurt. Anyway, Barcelona players crowd around the Wolfgang Stark, begging for a card, and eventually he pulls out a red. A yellow would have been far, far more sensible.

Yikes. Jose Mourinho isn't exactly impressed by the decision, and apparently he said something naughty as a result - he too has been sent off and has to take a place in the stands. With Pepe and Sergio Ramos both missing for the next leg, that red card has huge ramifications for the whole tie, and obviously Madrid now have to play with ten men for the remainder of the match. There are still 25 minutes to go, too.

This is the third of four matches between Real Madrid and Barcelona. You can view our coverage of the April 16th and 20th match here and here, with live coverage of Real Madrid vs Barcelona on April 27 in this story stream.

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Real Madrid vs. Barcelona, 2011 UEFA Champions League Semifinal: Pedro Denied Penalty, Mascherano Booked

Yellow card of the half number two as Javier Mascherano runs into Pepe as the midfielder comes steaming forward to chase after a loose ball. The Real Madrid player then launches himself into the air and lands rather awkwardly, which looks rather painful - maybe if he wanted to be less hurt he shouldn't have deliberately gone a-tumbling there. Wolfgang Stark pulls out a yellow, which is the right decision despite Pepe's embellishment of the contact.

Xabi Alonso swings in the free kick, which Victor Valdes grabs despite a crowd of players getting in his way. After a spell of home pressure mainly caused by Emmanual Adebayor's tactic of 'running really fast at defenders and seeing if they'll screw something up', Barcelona go on the attack again, and Marcelo has to make an extraordinarily difficult challenge to rob Pedro in the area. Barcelona want a penalty, but Stark is having none of it, Quite right, too.

This is the third of four matches between Real Madrid and Barcelona. You can view our coverage of the April 16th and 20th match here and here, with live coverage of Real Madrid vs Barcelona on April 27 in this story stream.

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Real Madrid vs. Barcelona, 2011 UEFA Champions League Semifinal: Sergio Ramos Booked, Suspended For Next Leg

Chaos in the Barcelona defence as Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique collide after attempting to head a long ball aimed at Cristiano Ronaldo back to Victor Valdes. The two defenders end up simply popping the ball up for Ronaldo to run onto but eventually after several blocks the ball is cleared. Not great play by Ronaldo there, who should probably have at least tested Valdes.

Just a few mintues later and we have our first booking of the half, and it's an important one - Sergio Ramos handed a yellow card by Wolfgang Stark after inexplicably charging into Lionel Messi as the forward was making one of his trademark weaving runs. The card means that Ramos will be suspended for the return fixture, which is pretty bad news for Real Madrid - fortunately they'll have Ricardo Carvalho available for that one, but one has to imagine that Jose Mourinho would much rather have Ramos at right back than Alvaro Arbeloa.

This is the third of four matches between Real Madrid and Barcelona. You can view our coverage of the April 16th and 20th match here and here, with live coverage of Real Madrid vs Barcelona on April 27 in this story stream.

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Real Madrid vs. Barcelona, 2011 UEFA Champions League Semifinal: Lionel Messi Half-Chance To Start Off 2nd Period

Excellent play by Barcelona, who work the ball out wide before cutting back into the area for Lionel Messi. The Argentine forward should shoot first time, but doesn't, leaving Pepe with just enough time to nick it off his boots ten yards away from Iker Casillas' goal. The attack continues, however, but Sergio Busquets eventually wastes it with a very poor pass to Xavi on the right, and eventually the hosts can hack clear.

Substitute Emmanuel Adebayor, meanwhile, is already having a positive effect for the home team, winning an aerial ball int he middle of the pitch before being bundled over by Javier Mascherano. Xabi Alonso tried to catch Victor Valdes off his line with a long range shot, but completely misses, and for some reason Wolfgang Stark doesn't give the hosts a free kick after all of that. How strange.

This is the third of four matches between Real Madrid and Barcelona. You can view our coverage of the April 16th and 20th match here and here, with live coverage of Real Madrid vs Barcelona on April 27 in this story stream.

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Real Madrid vs. Barcelona, 2011 UEFA Champions League Semifinal: Jose Manuel Pinto Sent Off During Off-Pitch Incident; Second Half Underway

The second half is up and running at the Santiago Bernabeu, but this match is taking a backseat to major drama off the pitch - Barcelona backup goalkeeper Jose Manuel Pinto has apparently managed to get himself sent off in a melee in the tunnel after the first half ended, which is, uh, special. There were at least a dozen players involved in a pushing and shoving match, and apparently Wolfgang Stark decided that it was entirely Pinto's fault. Ok then. I think I'm obligated to say something like 'tempers are flaring' as part of the Football Writers Code at this point.

We also have a substation, with Jose Mourinho taking off  the ineffective Mesut Ozil for Emmanuel Adebayor, which should theoretically give Cristiano Ronaldo more time on the ball as well as a focal point up front for the Real Madrid attack. That's a positive sign, and we'll see how well the likes of Javier Mascherano deals with a true centre forward hanging around.

This is the third of four matches between Real Madrid and Barcelona. You can view our coverage of the April 16th and 20th match here and here, with live coverage of Real Madrid vs Barcelona on April 27 in this story stream.

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Real Madrid vs. Barcelona, 2011 UEFA Champions League Semifinal: 0-0 At Halftime

I think we can sum up El Clasico 3.0 as 'messy'. And not in a good way. It's 0-0 at halftime at the Santiago Bernabeu, and there've been about two good chances all match, and all of four shots on target. It says something when the single biggest opportunity of the match ended up being offside anyway, but there's really not much going one - Real Madrid are frustrating Barcelona in the midfield by being extraordinarily physical, and the visitors have responded by diving a lot - Pedro and Sergio Busquets in particular have behaved reprehensibly in the first half by faking facial injuries.

As for the players who aren't getting into the rather... grumpy aspect of the match, Xavi Hernandez and Lionel Messi are looking excellent, with the two combining to give Iker Casillas a real scare in the 25th minute when the latter slipped the former through to shoot from six yards, but the most surprising part of the Catalan's attack has been David Villa, who has been excellent all evening going up against Marcelo. However, they're not getting much in the way of penetration. That Xavi shot has been their only good chance of the match.

Most of Madrid's opportunities have come from set pieces, with Dani Alves in particular losing control and repeatedly fouling Angel di Maria and giving Cristiano Ronaldo the chance to swing crosses into the box. His deliveries, however, have been consistently poor, although one eventually led to Victor Valdes fumbling a shot and allowing Mesut Ozil to latch onto the loose ball in the area. The follow up was saved, and offside anyway, which more or less sums up the game so far.

Let's hope for a less feisty second half, anyway. If things keep escalating it's only a matter of time before Pepe knifes someone.

This is the third of four matches between Real Madrid and Barcelona. You can view our coverage of the April 16th and 20th match here and here, with live coverage of Real Madrid vs Barcelona on April 27 in this story stream.

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Real Madrid vs. Barcelona, 2011 UEFA Champions League Semifinal: Cristiano Ronaldo Shot Causes Problems, Chance Eventually Pulled Back For Offside

Well that's something from nothing by Cristiano Ronaldo right before the stroke of halftime, who wastes the free kick earned by Angel di Maria by smacking the ball straight into the wall again, which is getting a little bit old for the massed fans at the Santiago Bernabeu. He makes up for it by picking up possession in the resulting melee and smashing in a shot through a crowd of players that Victor Valdes must have seen late.

The Barcelona goalkeeper saves, just about, but Mesut Ozil is on hand to pounce on the loose ball. The German then proceeds to shoot straight at Valdes, and the second rebound is wellied over by de Maria. No matter though, it's been called back for offside on Ozil anyway. That's the last major action of the half, and both teams will go into the interval... well, probably frustrated and quite angry, I'd imagine. Things haven't exactly been friendly out there.

This is the third of four matches between Real Madrid and Barcelona. You can view our coverage of the April 16th and 20th match here and here, with live coverage of Real Madrid vs Barcelona on April 27 in this story stream.

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Real Madrid vs. Barcelona, 2011 UEFA Champions League Semifinal: Handbags Galore As Match Descends Into Farce

Immediately following that cleared Cristiano Ronaldo free kick, Mesut Ozil has a chance to swing in a cross from the other side of the pitch. It's not a very good one either, and leads to a Barcelona break. Or it would, had Ozil not stopped that in its tracks with a professional foul on Dani Alves. A yellow card comes out, but it's not for Ozil - it's for Alvaro Arbeloa, who committed the heinous crime of being run into by Pedro. Pedro grabs his face in mock pain, and Wolfgang Stark shows his first card of the match. Whoops.

David Villa, meanwhile, does an excellent job in winning a corner for Barcelona, robbing Marcelo just outside the area and then seeing an attempted cross deflected behind the line. But that too comes to nothing, and then Dani Alves earns himself the night's second card for yet another foul on Angel di Maria. And more handbags. This is getting irksome and why is Iker Casillas halfway up the pitch to shout at everyone? Oh, it's because Sergio Busquets is trying to get Marcelo sent off by faking a face injury. Rude.

This is the third of four matches between Real Madrid and Barcelona. You can view our coverage of the April 16th and 20th match here and here, with live coverage of Real Madrid vs Barcelona on April 27 in this story stream.

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Real Madrid vs. Barcelona, 2011 UEFA Champions League Semifinal: Succession Of Real Madrid Free Kicks As Game Gets Feisty

I think that may very well be the first free kick that's gone Real Madrid's way after Sergio Busquets fouls his man just inside the Barcelona half. The hosts have the chance to deliver the ball into the box and Xabi Alonso actually sends in a pretty excellent cross, which Pepe does well to latch onto. The midfielder, however, doesn't get very much power behind his header and Victor Valdes has a relatively easy stop.

Seconds later, Marcelo draws another foul in a better position, but the cross isn't nearly as good and it fails to beat the first man, being cleared easily. And then Dani Alves crashes into Angel di Maria (it was not a dive, despite what Alves is telling Wolfgang Stark), and Madrid have a brilliant opportunity to draw first blood from near the corner flag. Cristiano Ronaldo opts to crash the ball straight into the two-man wall, which doesn't seem to be the best decision in retrospect. It's all getting a bit uppity now, with tempers flaring on both sides - we've had more time spent with both teams arguing with the referee than we have had them playing football over the last five minutes.

This is the third of four matches between Real Madrid and Barcelona. You can view our coverage of the April 16th and 20th match here and here, with live coverage of Real Madrid vs Barcelona on April 27 in this story stream.

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Real Madrid vs. Barcelona, 2011 UEFA Champions League Semifinal: Possession Still With Barcelona, But No Threat From Either Side

Barcelona are still seeing most of the ball, and they seem to be forcing their hosts to foul them whenever they want it back, which is obviously problematic for Madrid because Wolfgang Stark is then blowing his whistle to return possession to Guardiola's side. Still, they're mostly making those fouls around the centre line and then defending deep and in numbers, and Barcelona have had no real penetration into dangerous areas, as Xavi has just pointed out with a long range shot that misses by something like ten miles. How can he pass so well and then do something like that? Bizarre.

Anyway, one suspects that the pattern of the match is about what we expected - Barcelona on the ball, Madrid tough to break down and trying to hit on the counter, although I have to say they're not doing a very good job of the second part of that plan right now. Mesut Ozil in particular has been pretty disappointing, and one will have to imagine that Jose Mourinho will have strong words for his attackers at halftime.

This is the third of four matches between Real Madrid and Barcelona. You can view our coverage of the April 16th and 20th match here and here, with live coverage of Real Madrid vs Barcelona on April 27 in this story stream.

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Real Madrid vs. Barcelona, 2011 UEFA Champions League Semifinal: Iker Casillas Saves From Xavi In First Real Chance Of Match

Real Madrid's solution to the Barcelona connundrum: Let them have the ball as long as it's not in a particularly dangerous area. We've seen that plan from Jose Mourinho before, of course, most notably when his Inter Milan side defeated Pep Guardiola's team at the same stage last year. That said, it's pretty dangerous to let Barcelona just do whatever they want until they get into the final third, and Xavi has given them a reminder of that, hammering a shot that Iker Casillas did well to save after a loose pass from Lassana Diarra in the Real Madrid half gifted the visitors possession.

That's the first real save a goalkeeper's had to make so far in this match (I'm not counting Victor Valdes' stop against Cristiano Ronaldo because it would have simply bounced off him had to remained stationary), and Casillas did well to stop it, although he couldn't control the rebound. Fortunately for the hosts, it fell to the head of centre back Sergio Ramos, who nodded back to his goalkeeper to end the threat.

This is the third of four matches between Real Madrid and Barcelona. You can view our coverage of the April 16th and 20th match here and here, with live coverage of Real Madrid vs Barcelona on April 27 in this story stream.

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Real Madrid vs. Barcelona, 2011 UEFA Champions League Semifinal: Marcelo Wins Corner, Angel Di Maria Wastes It

It's interesting how most sides deal with Barcelona by pressing hard in the midfield, because that's really what lets them make those beautiful passes that have become their trademark. As soon as the Real Madrid players start to close them down, the visitors are able to wriggle free and push forwards, which is how most of their attacks are being born. Real will have to figure out a way or trying to apply pressure without opening up the passing lanes in the process, which is quite a difficult ask.

Meanwhile, though, the hosts have seen a little more of the ball, Marcelo surging down the left side and rather flukily winning a corner, which ends up totally wasted by Angel di Maria as the winger tried to run into Victor Valdes' box. He had a chance to cross it there and instead opted for some elaborate manouvre which was roughly as successful as my professional football career.

This is the third of four matches between Real Madrid and Barcelona. You can view our coverage of the April 16th and 20th match here and here, with live coverage of Real Madrid vs Barcelona on April 27 in this story stream.

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Real Madrid vs. Barcelona, 2011 UEFA Champions League Semifinal: Barcelona Edging Match So Far

Lassana Diarra isn't particularly amused with some decisions made by Wolfgang Stark today, having been penalised several times already for tackles that he considers perfectly legal. He has a point, too, but it doesn't matter - the fouls in the midfield are giving Barcelona a great starting point from which to mount forays into the Real Madrid half, and they're taking full advantage, taking the game to their hosts and starting to worry the defence.

Their latest attack sees Xavi draw Madrid right back Alvaro Arbeloa inside, allowing the midfielder to flick wide to Pedro advancing down the left wing. Unfortunately for Barcelona, a decent cross was not forthcoming, and the chance was well cleared by the massed ranks of white shirts packing the penalty area. Barcelona are probably fairly happy with the way things have gone so far - right now they're in total control of the match.

This is the third of four matches between Real Madrid and Barcelona. You can view our coverage of the April 16th and 20th match here and here, with live coverage of Real Madrid vs Barcelona on April 27 in this story stream.

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Real Madrid vs. Barcelona, 2011 UEFA Champions League Semifinal: David Villa Smashes Wide

We're finally seeing spells of Barcelona possession, but it's more of the knocking the ball rather aimlessly around the back line variety than the exciting, swashbuckling passing breed, so it's hardly threatening to spur the match into life just yet. It is, however, annoying the home crowd, who are starting to whistle their disapproval at both sides.

Eventually that spurs the Real Madrid midfield to start making some challenges, which doesn't go so well for them and Barcelona are able to push forwards, working the ball out to David Villa on the right flank. After breaking his goal drought last weekend, Villa is looking a lot more confident, and he drifts past Pepe and Marcelo, shifts the ball onto his left foot, and tries a thumping shot from outside the box which has Iker Casillas diving to keep it out of goal. He doesn't reach it, but much to Madrid's relief the ball flashes just wide of the far post. Close!

This is the third of four matches between Real Madrid and Barcelona. You can view our coverage of the April 16th and 20th match here and here, with live coverage of Real Madrid vs Barcelona on April 27 in this story stream.

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Real Madrid vs. Barcelona, 2011 UEFA Champions League Semifinal: Cristiano Ronaldo Takes First Shot

We have our first shot of the evening, and it comes as absolutely no surprise that Christiano Ronaldo is the one who took it. There was never anything on with the ball 25 yards out, but that didn't stop Real Madrid's superstar from giving it a go anyway, and he thumped the ball straight at Victor Valdes in the Barcelona goal, who proceeded to goggle the thing up without a problem.

Seconds later, a promising-looking Madrid attack breaks down thanks to a poor pass from Mesut Ozil, but it's been called back for a foul by Lassana Diarra anyway. Carles Puyol urges Wolfgang Stark to produce a yellow card, which is a little bit rich, but you can understand why Barcelona would be wanting their opponents to pick up bookings - the hosts are going to be using as much force as they can possibly get away with all match, and have more than a couple of players at risk for being suspended in the return leg if they get cautioned today.

This is the third of four matches between Real Madrid and Barcelona. You can view our coverage of the April 16th and 20th match here and here, with live coverage of Real Madrid vs Barcelona on April 27 in this story stream.

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Real Madrid vs. Barcelona, 2011 UEFA Champions League Semifinal: Game Underway

The first leg of the Champions League semifinal between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona is now underway at the Santaigo Bernabeu, Wolfgang Stark getting us going and allowing Madrid in their white to kick off. All of the pre-match fighting between the two clubs - especially between managers Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola - now takes a back seat to the game, the third Clasico in less than two weeks.

It doesn't take long for Real to give the ball away to the visitors, but they are applying pressure early, and it takes all of fifty seconds for stand-in right back Alvaro Arbeloa to draw a foul in the home side's favour. The strategy, as far as Madrid are concerned, is obvious - long balls forward on the transition, using their physicality at their back and in the midfield to strip Barcelona of the ball as the visitors attempt to play their trademark passing game.

This is the third of four matches between Real Madrid and Barcelona. You can view our coverage of the April 16th and 20th match here and here, with live coverage of Real Madrid vs Barcelona on April 27 in this story stream.

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Real Madrid Vs. Barcelona, 2011 UEFA Champions League: Barcelona Lineup

Captain Carles Puyol makes his return to a Barcelona side in great need of defensive help, slotting in at left-back in place of the injured Adriano Correia. Partnering Gerard Pique at centre half, then, is ertswhile midfielder Javier Mascherano, while Dani Alves takes his usual position as Barcelona's spare right winger. Barcelona are very luck to have Puyol back, since they'd have been forced to play a partially fit Gabriel Milito at left back if the captain had remained unavailable.

With Andres Iniesta ruled out, Seydou Keita takes his place in midfield, but otherwise the froward two bands are exactly the way Pep Guardiola normally sets them out - a midfield trio with Sergio Busquets at the base and Xavi further forward, and a front line spearheaded by Lionel Messi with David Villa and Pedro flanking.

Barcelona (4-3-3): Victor Valdes; Carles Puyol, Javier Mascherano, Gerard Pique, Dani Alves; Sergio Busquets, Xavi Hernandez, Seydou Keita; David Villa, Lionel Messi, Pedro Rodriguez.

Substitutes: Jose Manuel Pinto, Jeffren Suarez, Gabriel Milito, Ibrahim Afellay, Andreu Fontas, Sergi Roberto, Thiago

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Real Madrid Vs. Barcelona, 2011 UEFA Champions League: Real Lineup

Real Madrid haven't gone with any surprises tonight in the first leg of their 2011 UEFA Champions League semifinal tie with Barcelona, as Jose Mourinho has selected a lineup in the same 4-3-3 formation that he used to defeat Barcelona in the second game of this four Clasico series, the Copa Del Rey final. 

Gonzalo Higuain is still not first choice for Mourinho, as he has opted to play Cristiano Ronaldo as a central striker. Ricardo Carvalho is suspended, while Sami Khedira is injured. This means that Raul Albiol and Lassana Diarra make rare starts in a huge match. However, the fact that those players are backups just tells you how incredibly deep Real Madrid are. Here's the lineup and substitutions.

Real Madrid lineup (4-3-3): Iker Casillas; Marcelo, Raul Albiol, Sergio Ramos, Alvaro Arbeloa; Pepe, Lassana Diarra, Xabi Alonso; Angel Di Maria, Mesut Özil, Cristiano Ronaldo

Substitutes: Antonio Adan, Kaka, Karim Benzema, Esteban Granero, Ezequiel Garay, Gonzalo Higuain, Emmanuel Adebayor

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Real Madrid Vs. Barcelona, 2011 UEFA Champions League: Jose Mourinho And Pep Guardiola Continue Hilarious Catfight

I would stop commenting on this because it's so silly but no I won't it's amazing: Real Madrid and Barcelona are continuing their rivalry off the pitch with a war of words between Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola, and it's getting really really mean. First, the Special One threw out a less-than-friendly jibe at his nemesis regarding his comments following the Copa del Rey final, which Madrid won 1-0 in extra time:

There is a big group, of whom I am one, who criticise the referees when they make huge errors. But it is also a group who are happy to highlight the good work of the referee.

And now, with the declaration of Pep the other day [that Pedro Rodriguez's disallowed goal should have been allowed to stand], we are entering a new era with a third group, which for the moment includes only him, who criticise the correct decision of the referee.

I am not asking the referee to help my team. If the referee is good everyone will be happy - except Guardiola. He wants them to get it wrong. This is something I have never seen in the world of football.

Yikes. If he wanted to rile up the normally hyper-placid Barcelona manager, well, good job Jose:

Because Mr Mourinho used my name directly I will do the same. Away from the pitch he has had the upper hand so I award him his own personal Champions League for that.

He's the [expletive] boss. He's the [expletive] master and I can't compete with him at any instant.

I think I'll give this round to Mourinho. Of course, none of this will matter come game time, where I expect Barcelona to put on a good show even without Andres Iniesta available, but as pre-match press conferences go this was pretty spectacular.

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Real Madrid Vs. Barcelona, 2011 UEFA Champions League: Pep Guardiola Takes Swipe At Mourinho In Press Conference

Although we're getting ready to kick off in the other Champions League semifinal, in which Schalke 04 host Manchester United, Real Madrid vs. Barcelona is where the real action is at. Pep Guardiola is holding a press conference ahead of tomorrow's match, and things are getting catty.

Guardiola: "Mourinho is the coach with more titles and prestige. On the field I try to learn a lot from him. Off it, not much."less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply


Harsh words from the normally deserved Barcelona manager. Guardiola and Jose Mourinho are more or less polar opposites away from the game itself, with Mourinho's abrasive personality courting controversy while Guardiola's humilty and respectful demeanour have won him plenty of plaudits. Although it's hardly a surprise that Guardiola is no fan of the way 'The Special One' conducts himself, this is the first time he's been so blatant in his criticism of the Real Madrid manager.

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Real Madrid Vs. Barcelona, 2011 UEFA Champions League: Andres Iniesta Injury Rules Midfielder Out

Bad news, Barcelona fans. Andres Iniesta, who earlier had been reported as 'doubtful' with a calf injury is now definitely out of tomorrow's Champions League match against Real Madrid. Iniesta had earlier undergone solo training at the Santiago Bernabeu but had withdrawn shortly after getting onto the pitch, and now we have news from Pep Guardiola confirming that the midfielder will play no part in tomorrow's match:

#BAR Guardiola: "Andres Iniesta es baja al 100%, no jugará mañana"less than a minute ago via HootSuite Favorite Retweet Reply


'Andres Iniesta is down to 100%, will not play tomorrow,' says Google Translate, which sounds very much as though the inspirational midfielder won't even be fit for the bench. Expect Seydou Keita to start in his place - and also expect Real Madrid to be more than happy that they don't have to face him in the first leg of their semifinal.

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Real Madrid Vs. Barcelona, 2011 UEFA Champions League: Andres Iniesta Doubtful For Blaugranas

Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta is a doubt for the first leg of the Champions League semifinal between Real Madrid and the Blaugranas at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday after picking up a calf problem. While several reports have him as unable to start, both AS and Marca have Iniesta as doubtful rather than certainly unavailable. Should he indeed be unfit to go a full 90 minutes, Seydou Keita would be the obvious straight-up replacement in the Barcelona midfield, although losing a player of Iniesta's stature would obvious be a major blow to the vistors' hopes of leaving Madrid with a positive result.

Iniesta, if you'll recall, was originally slated to miss the match anyway due to a ban handed down by UEFA for deliberately earning a yellow card in the first leg of Barcelona's quarterfinal against Shakhtar Donetsk, which was eventually overturned on appeal. After all the fuss over how unfair the proposed ban was, it would be ironic if the World Cup winner missed the match anyway due to injury.

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Real Madrid Vs. Barcelona, 2011 UEFA Champions League: Barcelona Should Play For The Draw - Barca Blaugranes

FC Barcelona are not in the best moment coming into the first leg of their UEFA Champions League semi-final matchup with Real Madrid. It would be a stretch to say that they're no longer the confident world-beating team of a few months ago - the talent is still there, but they're at the very least a little off form, as a 1-1 draw in Madrid followed by a 1-0 loss in the Copa Del Rey final and an unconvincingly narrow win over Osasuna will attest.

For Adi-Oula Sebastian of SB Nation's Barcelona blog Barca Blaugranes, there's more to worry about than just bad form though. The defence is in dire condition, with injuries robbing Pep Guardiola's squad of their frst and third choice centre halves as well as every single recognised left back on the roster. When you combine Barcelona's form and injury concerns, you end up with a side looking to just hold on at the Santiago Bernabeu and take the fight back to the Camp Nou:

With Eric Abidal definitely ruled out for the rest of the season and Adriano’s fitness a major question, Maxwell’s latest injury comes at the worst possible time. FC Barcelona do not have any further personnel to compensate for their loss [at left back]. At the very least, their failure to properly address their defense in the last two transfer windows has come back to haunt them in the final stages of the current campaign.

For the time being, Pep Guardiola should take a cue out of Jose Mourinho’s playbook and avoid a defeat at the Santiago Bernabeu at all costs. A draw, whether a scoring one or not, would be to FC Barcelona’s advantage, especially since the return leg will be played at Barcelona’s Camp Nou venue.

The problem is, of course, that this Barcelona side is built to attack, not go for draws (even more so with captain Carles Puyol out). Will playing for the tie prove a risky strategy in the light of Real Madrid's multi-faceted attacks? Perhaps not - Madrid have been at their best playing the Catalans on the counterattack recently, and if Guardiola's men give them less opportunity to strike on the transition they have a very good chance of taking a favourable result back home.

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Real Madrid Vs. Barcelona, 2011 UEFA Champions League: TV Schedule

If you are a football fan, you'll be watching Real Madrid take on FC Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League semi-finals. It's the third match between the two powerhouses in the last week or so, and now the stakes are astronomically higher - the chance to play one of Manchester United and Schalke 04 at Wembley in the Champions League final. So, how can you watch the match?

  • If you're in the UK, the game will be televised on ITV 1 starting from 7:30 PM GMT on Wednesday April 27th.
  • US viewers will get the match in high-definition on FX (not Fox Soccer Channel), with coverage starting at 2:30 PM EST (11:30 AM PST). The game will also be shown on FoxSoccer.TV, Fox's paid online service.

And remember, no matter where in the world you are, you'll be able to follow along with SB Nation's live coverage, which will be updated regularly throughout the match. We're expecting a cracker at the Santiago Bernabeu, and we'd love to have you here.

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Preview: Real Madrid Vs. Barcelona, 2011 UEFA Champions League

Had enough of el Clasico yet? No? Good, because we've got two more for you yet. Real Madrid host FC Barcelona in the first leg of the 2011 UEFA Champions League semi-finals at the Santiago Bernabeu, with each team bidding for a place in the final at Wembley. By the time this game rolls around, we'll have already seen the first leg of the other semi-final and thus have a pretty good idea which of Manchester United and Schalke 04 we should expect to meet the winner of this matchup, but for now the two Spanish giants have more pressing matters to concern themselves with - namely, each other.

We've already had two Clasicos in the past nine days. The first, in the league, saw ten-man Rael Madrid fight back to earn a 1-1 draw at home thanks to a late penalty, and four days Jose Mourinho's men triumphed in extra time thanks to a Cristiano Ronaldo header, earning themselves the Copa Del Rey (which Sergio Ramos promptly dropped under a moving bus). Momentum, then, is firmly with the hosts. That 5-0 Barcelona victory in November has been all but forgotten.

It probably shouldn't be, though. At their best, Barcelona are capable of playing a style of football that even the massed ranks of Madrid are powerless to stop. The trick, then, is to make Pep Guardiola's side forget what they're capable of, and Mourinho has done just that over the past two games, frustrating and harassing the Catalans throughout the first two matches, to the point where Madrid actually managed to dominate long spells of the second game.

Guardiola cannot allow Real Madrid to get into his team's collective heads. Barcelona's game is to keep the ball more or less forever, neutralising their opposition's attacks before they can begin, shifting the play around until gaps in the armour show. Then they hit them, hard and fast. It's a style no other team can pull off, but if they're disrupted in the midfield they are suddenly incredibly vulnerable to the quick counter-attack (as Ronaldo et. al showed in the Copa Del Rey final). Recently, Mourinho has been using centre half Pepe to do just that, pushing him into the midfield to act as a destroyer. It's not a coincidence that Barcelona's midfield has been off its game when Pepe's been wandering around causing trouble.

So far, Real Madrid have the upper hand. But now there's more to play for. The Champions League final awaits. Will that be enough to spur Barcelona to new heights, or will the Mourinho factor once again see them stumbling out of Europe at the semi-final stage?

Injuries and Suspensions

Bad news for Real Madrid as centre back Ricardo Carvalho is forced to miss the match after drawing a yellow card at White Hart Lane against Tottenham Hotspur. The ex-Chelsea man has been a key cog in Real Madrid's defence this year, and his absence could see Pepe reinstated in the defence, although it's more likely that Sergio Ramos will be moved to centre back while Alvaro Arbeloa mans right-back. Midfielder Sami Khedira is also a doubt for los Blancos.

Barcelona have more significant concerns, although Andres Iniesta has managed to avoid a one-game suspension for provoking a yellow card after an appeal to UEFA. Captain Carles Puyol is still a doubt, and left back is something approximating a total mess after injuries to Maxwell, Adriano and Gabriel Milito have left Pep Guardiola sweating over their availability (Adriano and Milito are definitely out, while Maxwell could return in time for the match). The Barcelona defence will be looking fairly makeshift at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Key Matchup

Pepe vs. Xavi Hernandez. Lionel Messi gets the nod as best player in the world, but it's the midfield that give Barcelona their identity, and without them their superstar forwards have to rely on individual moments of magic to propel their sides to the win.

Pepe is Jose Mourinho's trump card. He doesn't play pretty football, but he does prevent Barcelona from setting up with his own special brand of running around like a deranged angry man style of play. If Barcelona can avoid Pepe in a physical battle (and don't forget they'll have to deal with Real's other midfielders at the same time, they'll be able to pick their opponents apart. If not, watch for Madrid to hit and hit hard on the transition.

Recent Form

David Villa finally broke his scoreless streak last weekend, netting the opener in Barcelona's 2-0 win over Osasuna. Lionel Messi added the second late on, but it couldn't disguise the relative weakness in the Catalans' play. It was far too close a win for the champions-elect.

Real Madrid were impressive against Valencia at the Mestalla last weekend, going up 6-1 despite fielding a mostly reserve team. Eventually they eased off, allowing the hosts to score two late goals to give the scoreline a veneer of respectability, but the six-goal haul was Madrid laying down a real marker to everyone's been questioning them so far this year.

Time

7:45 PM GMT (2:45 PM EST), Wednesday April 27th.

Projected Lineups

Real Madrid (4-3-3): Iker Casillas; Marcelo, Raul Albiol, Sergio Ramos, Alvaro Arbeloa; Pepe, Xabi Alonso, Lassana Diarra; Angel di Maria, Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo.

Barcelona (4-3-3): Victor Valdes; Maxwell, Javier Mascherano, Gerard Pique, Dani Alves; Sergio Busquets, Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta; David Villa, Lionel Messi, Pedro.

Pick

I don't see Real Madrid as being able to keep Barcelona off the scoresheet for two games in a row, and they'll be missing Ricardo Carvalho this time around. That said, I also don't see Barcelona able to shut out Madrid, either, so a score draw sounds about right. Let's go with a 1-1 draw, with Barcelona carrying a (narrow) advantage back to Camp Nou in the second leg.

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