Fellas, the Domestic Cup is back. Our results in this competition have been nothing but convincing so far, but we are now in the semifinals and the difficulty has drastically increased. Tonight, we are facing the strongest team in Spain, the one with the most solid style and, more importantly, the current leader of the Spanish Liga BBVA.
Our rival is our neighbour Atlético de Madrid, a team that has gotten used to living in the shadow we project in the past few years, but who has recently stepped up to demand our throne. After fourteen years without a success, they have been able to beat us in their last two chances, including last -and painful- Copa del Rey final.
It would be natural to feel frightened about this game, but this clearly contradicts our team's essence. It is not the right time to invoke Juanito's spirit just yet, but it is definitely worth remembering Real Madrid's good taste for complicated challenges. A victory tonight would have triple importance: recovering from the bad sensation about our last draw against Athletic de Bilbao, getting closer to moving on to the final round of the Copa del Rey and reminding Atlético that we are strong rivals and we are still strong enough to overtake them and win the league.
Our coach seems to have already decided his lineup for this game. According to some informations gathered during yesterday's training session and the pre-match press conference, it looks clear that the chosen eleven will be Casillas; Arbeloa, Pepe, Ramos, Coentrao; Alonso, Modric, Di María; Cristiano, Bale and Benzema. This is, indeed, a pretty balanced team, with enough work capability and offensive skills to face Atlético.
Although he has to deal with the absences of Filipe Luis and David Villa, Simeone will have, for sure, a very clear idea about how to play against us. Retreating and staying together at their side, Atlético is one of the toughest teams to attack and one of the deadliest when the time for counterattack comes. No concessions will be made to face their biggest rival, so the most likely lineup will be Courtois; Juanfran, Godín, Miranda, Insúa; Gabi, Koke, Arda Turan, Sosa, Raúl García; and Diego Costa. The newbie, Diego Ribas, will for sure have a chance at some point.
It is natural to expect a great spectacle. The tactical duel will be tremendous and the battle will most likely be decided by tiny details. But it will, definitely, give us ninety minutes full of emotion. Let's hope we can make the best of it.