A few weeks ago, right before El Clásico at the Santiago Bernabéu, we were wondering if this team ready to face a top challenge. Obviously, the result was more than disappointing. Since then, things have changed a bit.
The loss to Barcelona was a big blow and yet, Real Madrid still look like a contender in every tournament. The culés, not so much. Not only were they eliminated from Champions League, but that loss against Granada might have killed their hopes in winning La Liga while taking them to a new low.
Los Blancos surprisingly get to this Copa del Rey final in much better shape and should be considered as the favourites to win it. We will take a look at some of the reasons why Real Madrid should (and will) win the Cup:
1. Real Madrid are simply the better team.
That's the reason why those two Liga losses against Barcelona were so painful to all of us. Real Madrid is better. We know it, Madrid knows it and Barcelona knows it. Yes, Barça won both matches, but were they the superior team in either game? No. Both Barça wins were the result of Madrid making it way too easy for them (plus the insulting performance by a referee that shall remain nameless for now), which can't and won't happen again.
Whether it's something related to Neymar's transfer, or the FIFA punishing Barcelona with a transfer ban for doing illegal stuff, and, as a reaction, Club President Josep Maria Bartomeu coming up with some hilarious press conferences and ridiculous statements, or Messi having some sort or persistent "stomach illness", or them being eliminated from Champions League at the hands of Atlético de Madrid, or their fans yelling racist things at them (valors) after losing against Granada, or Xavi expressing his concerns with the grass and making up stories only he believes, or Busquets stepping on the head of a certain Real Madrid player (grr...), or the Catalan press questioning Martino's future, or...well, you get the point. One team is wondering how high they can fly, while the other sure wants this year to end.
Yes, Cristiano Ronaldo's confirmed absence is a big blow for the Merengues, just like Marcelo and Jesé's. However, the guys that have replaced them have done a remarkable job. Barcelona won't have Gerard Piqué, their best defender and one of their best players this year. For that reason, Carles Puyol might see some action on Wednesday. Careful, though, as Ángel Di María might break him again this year and who knows if he can take one more of those.
We've been hard on Carlo Ancelotti and rightfully so. His experiments and adjustments in both games against Barcelona played a big role in the result of each game, especially in the first one. Sergio Ramos as a midfielder? I want to cry by just remembering that. The truth is, there's no doubt on who's the better coach in this game. 'Tata' Martino is looking like a guy who's probably wondering where will he coach next year, while the Italian is focused on winning the treble. Besides, the players clearly believe in Carletto while the other side doesn't look as confident on their coach. It's the eyebrow, man...
The last time I said La Liga was over for a team, Barcelona approached me, slapped me in the face, yelled "LOL You know nothing! (By the way, that patch of grass over there is way to dry and you might want to cut it a little bit)" at me and lost to Granada, so I won't discard any team again, but I'm sure a lot of Barcelona fans and the media already think La Liga is over for them.
Real Madrid, on one hand, is alive and motivated in every tournament and is also desperate to get some revenge. On the other, Barcelona knows that even winning the Cup won't be enough to save what has been a very rough year for them. If they lose it, it will be a lot worse.
With the Cup being the only tournament they might win this year, this final will probably motivate Barcelona but it's hard to see it. After beating Madrid at the Bernabéu, their morale was as high as it could be and look at them right now.
6. Third time's a charm?
Not really, but I honestly don't see Real Madrid losing to Barcelona again. On the first Clásico of the season, it was a terrible job by Ancelotti. At the Bernabéu, it was a terrible job by Undiano Mallenco (a.k.a., the worst human being to ever live). Now, it's Barcelona's turn to do the terrible job. If our beloved White Knights lose to them again, every fan should be extremely worried, upset and disappointed.
7. A star losing (a bit) of it's brightness
When he's close to 100%, Messi can be the top player in the world. Fortunately for Madrid, the Argentine doesn't look close to that level. It's quite odd to watch him this way, barely even trying to run. He looks annoyed and unhappy at times. It might be that he doesn't want to risk getting injured again before the World Cup. Who knows? The scary talent is there without a doubt, as we could witness a few weeks ago, but what about his body and his mind?
Now, to make things a bit more interesting, here's a few reasons why Real Madrid might lose (*knock on wood*) this Wednesday:
Pepe and the rest of the defense can be a steel curtain one day and become as weak as toilet paper the next. In every top game they've played so far, this defense has made terrible mistakes and while we all expect Real Madrid to win, another ridiculous mistake by a white defender shouldn't surprise anyone.
2. Barcelona's signature move
Much like a WWE wrestler, Barcelona can pull their epic signature/finishing moves (you know, red card, penalty and the ref hilariously ignoring the offside rule in their favor) at any moment and win a match in ridiculous fashion. Like professional wrestling, it doesn't look credible and it sure feels scripted. Just look at (ugh) Undiano Mallenco's performance from the last Clásico. (Yes, Barça fans, it's a joke. Kind of).
3. Lionel Messi
Who knows? Maybe the Argentine is just pretending to be hurt or distracted or whatever he is so his opponents can relax a bit. Seriously though, this is a guy that has always been great or at least effective against Real Madrid (he's even kicked the ball at fans in the stands!) and has proved he doesn't need to be at full-strength to hurt them. You want some facts to support these three points in Barcelona's favor? Lucky for you, you can find them all in one game: that last Clásico at the Bernabéu.
There you go. According to this obviously indisputable points, Real Madrid will win 7-3. It's science. No one can do a thing about it.
Jokes aside though, we all know anything can happen. If we consider the context of each team, Real Madrid looks like the clear favorite to win the Copa del Rey. While some of this points are obviously exaggerated, the essence of all of them still applies. There's no doubt that Real Madrid is the better team and that their moment looks brighter than their rival's. It's just a matter of proper execution for the men led by the bada** eyebrow.