Copa del Rey: Barcelona not making the most of Lionel Messi but Real Madrid could miss Cristiano Ronaldo

in final that won't feature the best team in Spain, says Guillem Balague

Barcelona's Lionel Messi
Image: Lionel Messi: receiving fewer passes from his team-mates

This year the Copa del Rey represents a lot more than just another title for Barcelona and Real Madrid because it could be the only competition either of them win.

Add in the fact that Neymar, who appears to be the only one that wants the balls, has been disappointing in his effectiveness, their slow distribution and lack of movement off the ball and it all sounds like the end of an era with the club at crisis point.
Gap
For Real Madrid the first XI hasn't been disappointing but once they have to use the likes of Isco, Asier Illarramendi and Alvaro Morata (who do their job but not at the highest level - just look at the second leg against Borussia Dortmund) you see the big gap between them and the first team. The absence of Alvaro Arbeloa, Marcelo and Jese, who are perhaps the three players that could close the gap, doesn't help. Then of course with Ronaldo missing, Gareth Bale is going to be needed more than ever, as is Karim Benzema and Angel Di Maria will probably partner them up front. Then it's just the matter of Xabi Alonso, Luka Modric and either Illarramendi or Isco in midfield. This is a game where Barcelona will try and keep possession and overrun Real Madrid's midfield. It could be similar to the recent league game where all the goals come at the wrong time and against the run of play. It's impossible to predict but I feel at this stage of the season the weaknesses of both teams are there to be seen and will probably determine who wins. The one who makes more mistakes will be the one who loses. Everyone will raise their games, including Messi, but it does feel like a final where the best team in Spain are not present with Barcelona and Real Madrid in it and that's quite an achievement by Atletico Madrid.

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