Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo reacts during their Spanish King's Cup quarter-final first leg soccer match against Valencia at Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid January 15, 2013. (Photo : REUTERS/Susana Vera (SPAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER))
Are Real Madrid and Barcelona destined to meet in the Copa del Rey final? This seems to be the case after the first leg of their respective semifinal bouts.
Real Madrid claimed a victory over Atletico Madrid, ending a two-game losing streak against its cross-town rival. The 3-0 thumping featured an own goal as well as a tally from Jese and Angel Di Maria. Notably absent from the game was Cristiano Ronaldo who is seemingly regressing after winning the Ballon d'Or. The Portuguese superstar has scored five goals in 2014, but has only put the ball in the back of the net three times in his last nine games; he has not scored in the last three games and will be missing three games in the Spanish League for a red card he took in a 1-1 draw against Athletic Bilbao this weekend. Ronaldo must be careful as his long-time rival Lionel Messi also has five goals in 2014 and could easily steal the momentum from the Real Madrid talisman with a fortuitous start to the calendar year.
Real Madrid can draw some positives from this match. Aside from the 3-0 win, the team witnessed Angel Di Maria take over the game and also saw Jese continue to emerge as a major talent for the club; Jese may have surpassed Isco as Madrid's top young Spanish talent.
Barcelona also took home a 2-0 win over Real Sociedad in a match that featured no goals from Messi.
Both teams play away in the second leg but it seems unlikely that either team will be terribly nervous. Madrid only needs one goal to essentially clinch a spot in the final; one away goal would force Atletico Madrid to score five goals in order to win the tie. Barcelona's situation is a bit more precarious as Sociedad could easily level the aggregate with a strong effort.
Ultimately however, this looks destined for a Clasico.