Tim Stannard previews the midweek cup action, as Luis Enrique's Barca aim to protect their 1-0 first-leg lead...
All too often on the giant cheese board of life, one person’s desires might not quite meet up with another person’s hopes. That’s why divorce was invented.
And football. What Diego Simeone wants on Wednesday night in the Vicente Calderón is for his band of brothers to “play every minute as if it were the last”.
Whereas Luis Enrique and his jaw of firmness is almost certainly hoping in vain for a “sporting match”. The two concepts are very much non-compatible.
If Barça are going to turn up in the Spanish capital all Smeagol to take on La Liga’s Gollum in their Copa del Rey quarter-final second leg, then the 1-0 advantage from the first isn’t going to cut the mustard. This is especially the case now: the more the Catalans are pumped up by the local press, the faster they deflate like a New England Patriots match ball.
After several weeks of wallowing in a bathtub of misery, all appears to be well in Barcelona’s world after giving those mega giants of Spanish football Elche a hell of a beating in three 2015 games so far, including whacking six past them on Saturday. Primera pundits with their antenna tuned to Camp Nou frequency have gone from berating Luis Enrique for ever putting Luis Suárez on the bench to praising the lethal duo of Neymar – weirdly, the forgotten man of the Camp Nou this season – and Leo Messi.
But Atlético Madrid have their own dynamic duo for Barcelona to get the skitters about – Antoine Griezmann, the new, new, new Cristiano Ronaldo – and Fernando Torres. Yes, the Fernando Torres who'd better start eating his way into that bold prediction from the blog that the former and current Atlético man would whack in 15 goals this season. Thirteen more seems like a long way away.
This pair may have to be on tippy-top form on Wednesday as, battering-ram-in-chief from set-pieces, Diego Godín is suspended; a bit of a blow for the home side with Koke and Tiago set to be missing too.
Of course, these aren't the only Copa del Rey matches to be decided this week. Getafe are looking to surprise the world – least of all themselves – by overturning a 1-0 deficit from the first leg against Villarreal.
LLL has a feeling that the Coliseum club might manage it. And that would really, really annoy the Yellow Submarine as the tournament is quite the slog and once a certain distance is travelled, the nuisance of all that time and energy being wasted can certainly weigh on one’s mind.
Athletic have another golden opportunity to receive another kick in the goolies in a campaign that's progressively getting worse. Málaga are their opponents for the third time in a row, and the second at San Mamés, where the visitors hold a 1-1 lead. Technically that is a draw, but not when Athletic are involved.
Sevilla, who are quite the campaigners in all things cup related, have the mission of turning around a 3-1 disadvantage against Espanyol in what could be a humdinger of a game.
The southern side with a knack of pulling off the last-second spectacular have launched a hashtag campaign using the power of Twitter to remind fans that there are still 93 minutes left.
But Sevilla don’t need such gimmicks to get past the Pericos. Instead, all the players need to do is watch this to see how good the Sánchez Pizjuán can be.