Barcelona v Real Madrid: Lionel Messi urges Barca improvement


Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi says his team need to "pull themselves together" if they want to achieve a good result against Real Madrid in Tuesday's Copa Del Rey semi-final. Barca scored a crucial away goal to draw the first leg 1-1 in the Bernabeu but they will have to prevent defeat at Camp Nou if they are to qualify. The Catalans lost 2-0 to AC Milan in the Champions League last week and have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 11 matches.

"Against Madrid we will have to produce our best football as we will be against a great rival," said Messi. "We need to get back to playing how we were doing before and not think about what happened in Milan or the Sevilla game. We have to pull ourselves together because there are some decisive games coming up. The cup and the Champions League are down to us and we aren't concentrating on the opposition. Physically the team is in good shape and I am used to playing in all the games."

Real defeated Barcelona in the 2011 Copa Del Rey final but were beaten in the last eight last season by Barca, who eventually won the trophy. Tuesday's meeting is the first of two "Clasicos" this week with the two teams meeting in La Liga at the Bernabeu on Saturday. However, the Cup game seems more important for Madrid as Barcelona are already 16 points clear of third-placed Real in the league, so the Cup remains Madrid's best chance of domestic silverware.

Despite Barca's recent problems, Real coach Jose Mourinho does not believe it is a good time to be facing the Catalan side. "There is no good moment when two great teams clash - Barca are always a very important rival," he said. "From that point of view when you take them on is immaterial."

Here are the odds at Bet365 for Tuesday's "El Clasico":

Barcelona win - 8/11
Draw - 3/1
Real Madrid win - 10/3

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