After Real Madrid's extra-time win over Barcelona in the Copa Del Rey on Wednesday, the Catalan's coach Pep Guardiola has claimed that Madrid are favourites for the two remaining Champions League encounters between the two rivals.
Cristiano Ronaldo netted in the first half of extra time giving Madrid the win in the second of four El Classico matches. It also won Jose Mourinho his first trophy as Real Madrid manager. Barcelona seem jaded in recent games compared to their fluent best, as they struggled against Osasuna before winning 2-0 in the weekend whilst many expected a comeback after the loss against Madrid.
Contrastingly, a second string Real side thumped Valencia 6-3 at the Mestalla including a Gonzalo Higuain hat-trick and a brace from Kaka.
It has led Guardiola to admit that his Barca side are underdogs - a statement rarely made.
He told Marca, We accept that Madrid are in the role of favorites in the Champions League. I understand that is so, because they won the Copa and they are (playing) well. We are not in the best of conditions to play in the Bernabeu but we are fine emotionally. In the Bernabeu we will have to play very seriously and win the game.
We also accept the challenge. We have great faith in ourselves and I have faith more than anything in my players.
However, he also had a few mind games to play. With the chance of a Portuguese referee being chosen to officiate the first leg, Guardiola insisted that Real's Portuguese manager Mourinho would be delighted if it pans out that way.
I am convinced that Mourinho will be very happy if there is a Portuguese referee. To play the semi-final we will need the right mentality and tactics. The last two semi-finals we have played have been very hard fought. We have seen Madrid's strength with Higuain, Benzema and Kaka.