Barcelona, Real Madrid favorites to earn places in Copa del Rey final



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Posted Wednesday, February 02, 2011 by xinhuanet.com

Barcelona, Real Madrid favorites to earn places in Copa del Rey final

FC Barcelona and Real Madrid are favorites to assure their places in the final of the Copa del Rey in the second leg of their semifinal ties which will be played on Wednesday.

Barcelona have the easier task after their 5-0 win at home to Almeria last week. Pep Guardiola has warned his players not to relax in the return match, which is played in Almeria, but Barca have already won 8-0 in the same ground in the BBVA Primera Liga earlier in the season and he will take the opportunity to rest key players.

Almeria will look to follow Betis' example from the quarter finals and at least hope to take pride from the game, but with Jose Luis Oltra' s side also fighting to avoid relegation, the home team could also rest key players ahead of their weekend match at home to Espanyol.

Real Madrid will also be expected to qualify against Sevilla. Jose Mourinho's side won 1-0 away in Sevilla's Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium and will be confident of at least defending that advantage in the Santiago Bernabeu.

Mourinho's players are starting to look tired as they showed in Sunday' s defeat against Osasuna, but with such a narrow advantage the Madrid coach can't risk resting any of his stars.

Xabi Alonso and Marcelo will return to the starting 11 after suffering flu at the weekend and there is interest to see if new signing Emanuel Adebayor has the chance to start or if Mourinho keeps faith with Karim Benzema, who scored the winning goal a week ago.

Meanwhile Sevilla coach Gregorio Manzano has included new signings Ivan Rakitic and Gary 'Pitbull' Mendel in his squad, while Javi Varas will play in goal for the suspended Andres Palop.



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