Real Madrid defeated Barcelona in the 2011 Copa Del Rey final and frustrated them in their UEFA Champions League semifinal by switching away from their normal formation and playing Pepe in the center of midfield. Pepe, a defender by trade, did an excellent job of breaking up play with his athleticism and aggression in a more advanced role, and displayed the technical ability required to play in the midfield.
Because of injuries, Pepe had to play in defense in the Clasico in December, but Madrid is now a healthier team. Additionally, young defender Raphael Varane now has more games under his belt and is impeccable form. Could this potentially lead to the return of Jose Mourinho's trivote with Pepe anchoring the midfield? Real Madrid blog Managing Madrid believes that it could.
Pepe's physical presence should be used to press Barcelona's midfielders instead of just playing ahead of the defensive line. He completed an absolutely brilliant game in the Copa del Rey Final by disallowing Messi from even receiving the ball ... In order to stop Barcelona's game and put the match in our own hands, Mourinho needs to recover the 4-3-3 system he used in the Copa del Rey Final.
Mesut Özil got off to a decent start in the December Clasico, but was completely erased from the game at the start of the second half. Meanwhile, without a defensive midfielder like Pepe, Barcelona was able to counter through the center, and that was a big key to their 3-1 victory. Mourinho's team might not look exactly like last year's Copa Del Rey final, but don't expect a team that looks like the one he fielded back in December.