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Barcelona v Real Madrid Preview

We get the fourth and final El Clasico Tuesday and Barcelona coach Josep Guardiola is expecting an anxious evening at the Camp Nou despite his side’s 2-0 first-leg lead over Real Madrid. REal Madrid assistant coach Aitor Karanka played down criticism of his side’s approach in the first match as he said José Mourinho’s touchline ban would not be a problem for Madrid.

Josep Guardiola, Barcelona coach
I don’t know what Madrid to expect. They have such a strong team and so many players that they can play in several ways. This is a very tough semi-final tie. We shall see how strong mentally we are tomorrow. I know the fans will help us especially if things get tough.

I imagine that we have to be very focused because it’ll be tough, mentally speaking. We will have to move the ball fast and I am sure there will be a lot of anxiety but the fans will be there to help us. I want to thank them for this in advance and I want to thank the players for letting me experience this match. We want to try to reach the final again this season and I am very eager for the match to start, for the world to see it and to reach the final.

Tomorrow we will try to play the best football possible and what happened is in the past. I hope those things we saw last week don’t happen again. I haven’t thought about who I will field tomorrow. [Seydou] Keita last week was fundamental and made the team very solid, he’s essential for us in this type of match.

We have to be prepared for anything tomorrow: they can attack or defend, but we have to be ready for anything. Tomorrow Madrid will play the match of a lifetime to try to get to the final. They have a good enough squad to make life tricky for us.

Abidal has recovered and it’s great news. Milito is injured and we spoke to the doctors to see if Abidal could help. They told us he was perfect physically but that he has lost a lot of weight. The team is really happy to have him back. We’re in the semi-final which is great news, and then Abidal is back and that’s great.

Aitor Karanka, Madrid assistant coach
We have to respect people saying that we’re defensive. Cristiano [Ronaldo] said that and if he has to be in the starting XI then he will be. Tomorrow we will see if we play defensively or not. It depends if there are 11 players on the pitch. They’re just ways of playing football and the important thing is to be in the final.

The coach won’t be on the bench or in the dressing room area. We had that situation against Auxerre [and won 4-0] so it isn’t a problem. I think if there’s someone who feels bad now it is the coach for not being able to be on the bench tomorrow. So if we can win, we can dedicate it to him for being in the final – that would be important.

In football we’re all professional and we’re grown up enough. The Real Madrid coach said it was his fault that we lost the match last week so we are able to be self-critical.

Team news
Barcelona

Guardiola had good news with the return of Abidal (liver tumour) and Andrés Iniesta (right calf) to his squad on the eve of the game. However, Martín Montoya’s first start for the club on Saturday lasted 14 minutes before he was taken off with a broken collarbone and dislocated shoulder. Gabriel Milito tore a thigh muscle scoring a disallowed goal late on and joins Maxwell (groin) and Adriano (right thigh) on the sidelines. Bojan Krkić (knee ligament) is a long-term absentee.

Madrid
Sami Khedira has not played since tearing his right adductor muscle in the Copa del Rey final. Fernando Gago remains absent with a torn adductor.

Prediction
This is a difficult game to predict as it is hard to figure out what Jose Mourinho will do. Madrid need two goals to force the game into extra time, so Madrid cannot play like they did in the first leg for a 0-0 draw. Because they need to score, Madrid will have to play two up front, which means that I would not be surprised to see Gonzalo Higuain start up-front next to Ronaldo.

An attack minded Madrid is good news for Barca as the 5-0 victory earlier this season shows. Barca seem to be lost something from their play in recent weeks, and they don’t look as sharp as they did a couple of months ago.

But when you have Lionel Messi in your line-up, he can cover up any shortcomings that the team will have.

I expect a nervy night in the Nou Camp, especially if Madrid score first, but ultimately the most talented team will win and that is Barcelona.

Score: Barcelona 2 Real Madrid 1

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