It hurts but Barca have to move on

Mustapha "El Loco" Kamaruddin feels that Barca need to up their game in light of their recent poor form but the La Liga title is still within the Catalans' grasp


Some Barcelona fans may be still in a state of shock after the 3-1 defeat to arch rivals Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey at the Nou Camp.

Who wouldn’t be?

The Catalans just failed to turn up and were not their normal selves. Real took control of practically every aspect of the game.

Without taking anything away from Cristiano Ronaldo & Co., who performed pretty well especially with their deadly counter-attacks, Barca were simply below par - in defence and attack.

Real were also tactically better when they 'caged' Lionel Messi and stopped stalwarts like Iniesta and Xavi too from supplying ammunition to the Argentine wizard.

It was a game to remember for Ronaldo and Real as they more or less humiliated their rivals in front of their 98,000 fans.

With that win, Real advanced to the final of the Copa del Rey with a 4-2 aggregate - the teams drew 1-1 in the first leg at Santiago Bernabeu.

Los Blancos will now take on Atletico Madrid in the final.

Barca, on the other hand, did not perform well despite beating Sevilla 2-1 in the Primera Liga last weekend. In fact, they were struggling.

And before that, Messi & Co. were stunned 2-0 by AC Milan at San Siro last week in the Champions League.

Barca will no doubt have a tough time getting better of Milan in the return leg at Nou Camp if they fail to raise their game.

The question now is, whether or not the Catalans can come up with a plan to send Milan packing for a place in the last eight in the elite European competition.

It will be difficult, but Barca will be Barca.

They are capable of bouncing back and silencing those critics who are already saying that their 'golden era' is about to come to an end - after that one defeat to Real.

The bottom line is that Barca still have very much to play for this season, even if they fail in their mission to stop Milan because they are in a favourable position to win the Primera Liga title.

The Catalans are on top of the league standings and boast a 12-point gap over second-placed Atletico whereas Real are in third - 16 points behind.

With 13 games left to play, Barca are not going to waste this golden opportunity to be the Spanish champions yet again. So everything is not lost even if they are knocked out of Europe.

Interestingly, Real will entertain Barca in yet another 'El Clasico' on Saturday (11pm, Malaysian time) in a La Liga match.

This will still be a tricky test for Barca although Jose Mourinho may just decide to rest a few regulars in lieu of their Champions League second-leg clash with Manchester United at Old Trafford on Tuesday.

Real's main goal, however, is the Champions League after they have admitted that thier league title hopes are practically gone.

A win for Barca on Saturday will give them momentum ahead of their crucial Milan clash.

Midfielder Iniesta is convinced Barca can get back to their winning ways and see no reason to over-dramatise the situation.

He is also as optimistic about the team’s chances of winning the Champions League.

“The Milan game [on March 12] is very important. We have to go all out from the first minute, treat it like a final and play like our lives depended on it.

"It’ll be a very difficult game. The score line is very much against us, but right now I’d still put my hand in the fire and say we’ll win … It’s a question of pride, need and reality. We are quite capable of turning the game around.

“There are still 90 minutes to go against Milan and we’re optimistic about our chances," Iniesta said.

But first, let's see what happens in the El Clasico on Saturday. Can we expect another action-packed clash even if Mourinho decides to rest key players?