While Barcelona are in good shape, Real Madrid are dealing with several injuries and suspensions that could turn the tide in this latest edition of El Clásico
Heading in to this week's Copa del Rey semifinal first leg between Real Madrid and Barcelona there's no question that Jordi Roura and Barcelona are in better shape in the roster category. While Barca are completely healthy, Jose Mourinho and Madrid are dealing with several injuries and suspensions that will limit their options on Wednesday.
On the touchline, Barca will again be without Tito Vilanova who continues his cancer treatment. Assistant Jordi Roura will again lead the team and he's basically got their entire roster at his disposal. Barcelona will only be missing defender Éric Abidal who continues to recover from a liver transplant last year. Abidal has been cleared by doctors and has returned to training but is not yet ready for match action.
Things are a bit different for Mourinho and Los Blancos. Defender Sergio Ramos returned over the weekend after completing his four match ban for insulting a referee, but he'll be forced to miss Wednesday's match as he still needs to serve a red card suspension for the sending off that caused his outburst. Ángel di María and Fábio Coentrão will also be serving red card suspensions after being sent off in Madrid's quarterfinal second leg match against Valencia.
Madrid will also be without a third defender as Pepe is still recovering from ankle surgery earlier this month. Iker Casillas is also out with a broken hand.
The lack of defensive depth will be a major concern as Los Blancos attempt to slow down, or stop, Barcelona's lethal attack. It seems fair to say that Madrid will still have the weapons to trouble Barca but this tie may come down to whether or not their defense can get the job done in the first leg. Getting Ramos and Coentrão back for the second leg won't really matter if Madrid are already in a deep hole after the first leg.
On top of everything else Madrid are still dealing with a report in MARCA that claimed teams captains Casillas and Ramos had threatened to leave unless Mourinho was dismissed. Team president was forced to call a rare press conference to address the story in which he accused the paper of lying.
Now we wait for Wednesday to see if all these injuries, suspensions and distractions allow Barcelona to get a positive result in the first leg against their rivals.