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Copa del Rey: Real Betis battle, Getafe win

Spanish Copa del Rey
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Khedira out of hospital

Real Madrid
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Barcelona urged to bring back Guardiola

Johan Cruyff thinks the best way to turn Barcelona’s slide around is for Pep Guardiola to return as coach.

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A horrible seven days has seen Barca knocked out of the Champions League by Atletico Madrid, slip to third in La Liga by losing 1-0 at Granada, and on Wednesday evening they lost the Copa del Rey final 2-1 to bitter rivals Real Madrid.

The Camp Nou side have scored just one goal in those three games, with Lionel Messi a peripheral presence, which has led to suggestions from some that an era which began when Guardiola took charge in 2008 has now finally come to an end.

Current Blaugrana coach Gerardo Martino has been tipped to leave by mutual consent this summer, although he has stressed he is staying.

Cruyff, however, told El Mundo that the current board needs to go and allow former president Joan Laporta to return and bring Guardiola back from his current job at Bayern Munich.

“The best thing for Barca would be for Guardiola to come back,” Cruyff said. “He is a magnificent coach and there is nobody better. If Laporta is president again I am going to say that the best thing would be to sign Pep, and as he is an intelligent person, I am sure he will do that.”

Wednesday’s defeat has been followed by a strong reaction in the Catalan media. Sports’ cover summed up the reaction by saying "This cycle is cover -- another must begin," with a photo of a distraught Messi and a call for a "deep renewal" including a new coach and several big signings.

Front cover of SPORT on April 17.
Front cover of SPORT on April 17.

There was also anger from a group of Barca supporters who gathered at the Camp Nou well after midnight as the players returned from Valencia. According to AS those present shouted "mercenaries" and "you didn't sweat for the jersey," and singled out Messi in particular.

Veteran playmaker Xavi Hernandez told El Larguero that it was not fair to single out the out-of-form Argentine.

“It is not about looking for individuals to blame,” Xavi said. “The guilty party is the team, all of us, starting with the players and the coach. We made mistakes and Madrid damaged us on the break. Obviously we are leaving here very down, but we must lift our heads. Some day it will happen, but I have been hearing all this about the end of a cycle for five years now.”

The defeat has turned attention on which senior players could leave as part of this "renewal," with Dani Alves linked with a summer move Paris Saint-Germain in Wednesday morning’s Mundo Deportivo.

Alves told Marca in Mestalla’s mixed zone that he would stand up to any criticism faced.

“A lot of people are going to be taking shots at us and if I have to put myself in the firing line I will be there, that is my personality,” the Brazil international said. “Football is like that, when you win you are worth everything, and when you do not you are s---.”

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