BY DAN KARELL
In at least one competition this season, Real Madrid will finish higher than Barcelona.
The Madrid club defeated Barcelona 3-1 on Tuesday night at the Camp Nou, winning 4-2 on aggregate, and moving on to the Copa Del Rey final in April. Goals from Cristiano Ronaldo (two) and a header from 19-year-old Raphael Varane pushed Jose Mourinho’s side through, and likely saved his job for the time being.
Since joining Real from RC Lens in 2011, Varane has improved daily, and his two goals in the Copa Del Rey semifinal legs against Barcelona has given him a massive boost in confidence. Meanwhile, Lionel Messi failed to score against Real Madrid for the second straight match.
The two sides will play each other again on Saturday, in La Liga action at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Here are some other stories to get your Wednesday started:
ROURA WILL CONTINUE IN VILANOVA’S ABSENCE
Following their second defeat in three games, Barcelona president Sandro Rosell gave his backing of stand-in manager Jourdi Roura, who has been taking the place of Tito Vilanova while the latter has been recovering from cancer treatments this winter.
Last week, Barcelona suffered a shock defeat to AC Milan in the Champions League, and overcame a shaky start over the weekend to beat Sevilla, before falling to Madrid in the Copa Del Rey.
Vilanova is currently still rehabilitating in New York, though is watching matches on television and is in constant communication with the staff through the smartphone application Whatsapp. Roura himself has stated that he is looking forward to Vilanova’s return to Barcelona, so that Roura can step back and return to his normal position as an assistant coach.
FIVE STAR ATLETICO MINEIRO HIGHLIGHT BUSY DAY OF COPA LIBERTADORES
Brazilian side Atletico Mineiro defeated Argentinian club Arsenal de Sarandi 5-2 in Buenos Aires on Tuesday night. Plucky forward Bernard recorded a hat-trick for Mineiro, while Diego Tardelli and former Manchester City forward Jo recorded goals as well on the night for the visitors. Former World Player of the Year Ronaldinho assisted on the first Bernard goal with a delightful chip over the defense, and was lively throughout the match.
Arsenal de Sarandi scored the first goal of the match in the second minute from Julio Furch, but could only score one more goal, in the 41st minute, via Nicolas Aguirre, although it was an absolute beauty.
Also in action on Tuesday night, debutantes Real Garcilaso of Peru defeated Deportes Tolima of Colombia 1-0, Argentina’s Velez Sarsfield defeated Peñarol of Uruguay 1-0, and Club Tijuana in Mexico defeated San Jose of Bolivia 4-0.
Mario Balotelli has commissioned an artist from his hometown in Brescia, Italy, to build a lifesize statue of the 22-year-old forward. (REPORT)
Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling is suffering from fatigue, according to manager Brendan Rodgers. (REPORT)
Many of Spain’s clubs in the top two divisions could disappear if television revenues continue to drop. (REPORT)
Ibrahim Afellay is to be sent back to Barcelona this summer, having not played a single Bundesliga minute this season due to injuries. (REPORT)
Brothers Jordan and Andre Ayew have both decided to quit the Ghanian national team, and retire from international football, due to management issues. (REPORT)
What do you think of these reports? Do you believe that Barcelona’s reign as best club in Spain is over? Should Barcelona replace Roura as manager while Vilanova is away? Do you see Tijuana continuing the terrific results in the Copa Libertadores?
Share your thoughts below.