Wednesday Kickoff: Real Madrid wins Copa Clasico, Roura to stay as manager until Vilanova returns, and more

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 PeƱarol of Uruguay 1-0, and Club Tijuana in Mexico defeated San Jose of Bolivia 4-0.

QUICK KICKS

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)

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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.

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8 Responses to Wednesday Kickoff: Real Madrid wins Copa Clasico, Roura to stay as manager until Vilanova returns, and more

  1. wilyboy says:

    How does Barca expect to win when their coach is managing from a sick bed? It’s all well and good to support someone through cancer treatment, but sometimes the only viable situation is to find a worthy replacement. Barcelona have slowly lost their edge, and this setup is a big reason why.

    • Sly says:

      Never really thought id see the day when the quality of the back room coaches matter so much.

      How long before Barca starts eyeing Laudrop?

    • Nate Dollars says:

      this is a good question. i know barca likes to have the reputation of standing by their own, but there is a limit to everything. probably what would be best (and what should’ve happened when tito’s illness was first discovered), is tito resigning due to health concerns, and maybe by now, barca would have installed a worthy manager.

      the person i feel sorry for is roura. he’s not good enough, he knows he’s not good enough, but what can he do now?

      hopefully, this will put to rest the notion that guardiola wasn’t that good a manager (‘i could put barca’s XI on the field and win’).

  2. malkin says:

    Not a peep yet on Stu making his first league appearance yesterday? Would be curious to hear any accounts on how he looked (his form, not his hair).

  3. Dudester says:

    I noticed Sterling was fatigued back in early January.He didn’t look the same player that started the season.Was hesitant to take players on every time he got the ball.Bad management by Rodgers to only give him a rest after he’s run him into the ground.A better more expirenced manager would’ve brought him along slowly during the season.Regardless of his brilliant “vision for the future of the club, why would Liverpool hire a guy with only one season of top flight experience.

    • Sly says:

      Easy to say so now. But Liverpool had to overuse young Sterling. With squad depth being significantly better and being out of every torunament he may not see the pitch again till next season.

      This should help immensely I actually dont see him starting anything other than cup games next season a developement I welcome (assuming another attacking mid is brought in or Coutinho starts to adapt to the EPL). He is ideally imho two full seasons away from being cemented in place. As far as the liverpool rookies I see Wisdom and Kelley as far more prepared for EPL right now.

      • Dudester says:

        Liverpool have Suso, Downing Assaidi and Borini who can play wide.No reason to run Sterling into the ground.They were short of stk’s not wide men.

  4. Travis says:

    balotelli making a life time statue of himself is awesome and hilarious.