Zee Media Bureau/Rajdeep Saha
New Delhi: Barcelona`s tough time seems to increase day after day, as they seek to revive themselves against Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey final on Wednesday.
Barca won the last El Classico 4-3 against their bitter rivals in March. Since then, a series of calamities have struck the Catanians, that have stagnated the entire Nou Camp. Ahead of the final, Barca have been struck with injury blows to defenders Carlos Puyol and Marc Bartra and it widens their defensive problems after already losing Gerard Pique.
Barca`s series of woes started after they were banned by the UEFA in the transfer market with relation to suspension of the signings of 10 under-18 players, with the governing body confirming the ban is to do with “the international transfer of minors”. Their struggles continued after they failed to overcome Diego Simeone`s Atletico Madrid in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. They lost 2-1 over both legs after failing to beat the latter in five attempts this season.
Barca`s hold of the La Liga slipped when they suffered a 1-0 loss to Granada, which saw them move down to third on the table. Atletico lead the proceedings in Spain with a four-point lead at the top. Their best player Lionel Messi has been a shadow of himself in recent matches and he will hope to strike gold on Wednesday.
On the other hand, Real will miss the services of Cristiano Ronaldo, but apart from that they possess a serious threat. Real are in the semi-finals of the Champions League and their 4-0 win against Almeria at the weekend serves as a major boost. Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Angel di Maria will look to inflict wounds on Barca.
But an El Classico is a different prospect and despite Real`s favourites tag, they know they will have to take advantage of Barca`s scenario and win their first trophy this season.