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Three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Osasuna | Copa del Rey final



Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images

Real Madrid have spent the past few weeks playing La Liga games that carry no weightage whatsoever on their ongoing campaign. After all, the league title race is non-existent at this point.

However, all their performances have been orchestrated with three games in mind- the Copa del Rey final and the two games against Manchester City later in the month. On Saturday night, the men in white will face the first of the three herculean challenges.

The reigning European champions are pitted against Osasuna, La Liga’s 10th-placed side, in the finale of the Copa del Rey. The game will be played at Estadio de La Cartuja in Seville at a late kick-off.

The passion will be high on both sides as the Spanish Cup sees its showdown for the season. While Real Madrid enter the tie as undisputed favourites, Osasuna are hardly a team that can be written off.

Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Osasuna.

1. Go for gold

Real Madrid’s run so far in the Copa del Rey has been nothing short of a champion’s run. The Merengues have faced adversity at every step, but have braved them and treaded past with resilience and belief.

Their difficult run began against their nemesis Villarreal in the Round of 16 of the cup in a game that could have gone either way. After going 2-0 down on the night, Carlo Ancelotti’s men had to tread through a storm to pull off a sensational comeback pioneered by Dani Ceballos.

The opponents only got tougher. Atletico Madrid stared Madrid in the eye for the quarterfinals of the cup, and though the scoreline suggests a simple win for Ancelotti’s men, the game was far from that.

The semifinals brought with it a two-legged tie against Barcelona. Real Madrid went down by a goal at Santiago Bernabeu in the first of the two games but pulled off a stunning 4-0 win at the Blaugranas‘ home to seal a spot in the final.

Now, there is just one more obstacle for Los Blancos to cross before they lift the Copa del Rey trophy. The Spanish cup has eluded the men in white in recent years, and tomorrow’s game against Osasuna could be the night the curse is finally broken.

2. Miraculous recoveries

Carlo Ancelotti was never supposed to have a completely fit core heading into the final against Osasuna. Luka Modric and David Alaba, in particular, appeared to have no chance of appearing in the Copa del Rey finale, given their initial prognosis.

The Croatian international suffered a hamstring blow in Real Madrid’s 4-2 defeat to Girona, and he was expected to face at least two weeks on the sidelines.

The 37-year-old midfielder, who was a doubt even for the first leg against Manchester City, could now start tomorrow’s final if everything goes to plan.

Hamstring injury not enough to keep Modric out. (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images)

Clearly, there is something special about the midfielder’s drive and desire to participate at the highest level, considering that he took a trip to Belgrade to engineer an early return.

David Alaba’s story may not be as entertaining but is another filled with inspiration. The centre-back has been plagued with injuries throughout the 2022-23 season but has managed to return to group training well ahead of schedule.

With a completely fit core heading into the three decisive games of May, Carlo Ancelotti has no excuses to come up short on either front. A trophy on Saturday would not be a bad way to start.

3. Momentum ahead of Man City clash

The Copa del Rey final is a celebration in itself, and a victory on the night would be no mean feat. Yet, such is the standard of Real Madrid that the prestigious tie may not even be their most important game in the week.

Los Blancos face off against Manchester City midweek in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League semifinal. A solid win over Pep Guardiola’s side is a must on the night, especially considering that the second leg will be played at Etihad.

Carlo Ancelotti’s men need all the momentum they can gather to take down one of Europe’s most in-form teams. Needless to say, there would be no better momentum to walk into the semifinal than coming off a title-winning match.

The game against Osasuna will be a hard-fought affair, as finals always are. Moreover, the fact that the Pamplona-based side held Barcelona with ten men last week up until the 80th minute shows the resilience they possess. Yet, Real Madrid need the win on Saturday, not just for the title but for a mission that extends far beyond.

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Real Madrid vs Athletic Club: End of an era, farewells, tight race for second place



Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images

Real Madrid will walk down the tunnel of Santiago Bernabeu one last time this season on Sunday night. The men in white are pitted against Athletic Club on their final match-day, and the game will not be an easy affair by any means.

The Basque side sit in seventh place on the league standings with 50 points in 37 appearances. However, their qualification for the UEFA Conference League is in danger with Osasuna lurking close behind with an equal number of points.

Anything less than a win could prove insufficient for the visitors and it is clear that they arrive at Santiago Bernabeu with nothing less than a win on their agenda. Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Athletic Club Bilbao.

1. The end of an era for the number 9 shirt?

Photo by Florencia Tan Jun/Getty Images

The grey area around Karim Benzema’s future has only widened in recent days. From a situation where his continuity at Real Madrid was taken for granted, it did not take long for the Frenchman’s story to enter a steep deviation.

An economically tempting proposal from Saudi Arabia had Benzema seriously contemplating a move away from Santiago Bernabeu, and reports stated that his departure from the Spanish club was close to complete.

The world, thus, looked in anticipation of his next official interaction with the media. The Ballon d’Or winner publicly addressed the topic for the first time earlier this week, and it is safe to say that his words gave nothing away.

Benzema neither confirmed nor completely refuted the rumours of his exit to the media. His situation is balanced on the blade of a knife and could tip in either direction.

In that sense, there is a good chance that tomorrow’s clash at Santiago Bernabeu is Karim Benzema’s final game for Real Madrid. If the striker does choose to change loyalties, it would mark the end of an era for the team’s number nine position.

It has been over a decade since the Frenchman took over the prestigious kit. He has played 647 games for the club so far in his career, scoring a stunning 353 goals in the process. Of them, 98 have been match-winning contributions.

2. A day of farewells

Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images

Earlier today, Real Madrid announced the departure of Marco Asensio from the club. The Spanish winger appears set to sign for PSG for the 2023-24 season and will bid adieu on Sunday. However, he will not be the only player playing his final game for the club tomorrow.

Nacho Fernandez has been a critical part of Real Madrid’s success in recent years but is another name close to sealing an exit. The defender is not satisfied with the playing time under his belt at the club and has not yet responded to the renewal offer on his table.

With his contract running out in less than 30 days, he appears closer to leaving than staying. One can expect an announcement from Nacho on Sunday night after the game at the Bernabeu, which could be his final game in white.

The situation with Dani Ceballos is quite similar. The Spanish midfielder is still undecided on his future, although there is still a slight chance he could continue at the club. Staying on the subject of players making their final appearance, however, he could be one on the list.

Away from the stories of incomplete renewal negotiations, Mariano Diaz is one player whose departure from the club is confirmed. Ferland Mendy, Jesus Vallejo, Alvaro Odriozola and Eden Hazard are some of the other candidates well-placed to make departures, although nothing can be said for sure.

3. A tight race for second place

Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

There is not much to play for on Sunday night except for the emotional tag of it being the season’s final game. Yet, the men in white will not be without an objective against Athletic Club.

Los Blancos sit on 77 points in 37 league appearances this season and just have a one-point lead over third-placed Atletico Madrid. Needless to say, they must be vary of their position on the standings for any complacency could see them drop down the ladder.

Diego Simeone’s men take on fifth-placed Villarreal at the same time as Real Madrid’s game against Athletic Club. Even if Carlo Ancelotti’s men settle for a draw against the Basque side, the second place would be Atletico Madrid’s to lose.

With both games kicking off simultaneously, there will be nerves throughout the ninety minutes in Madrid. One can only hope for action-filled games to keep the anxiety and adrenaline high.

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