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English Premier League

Ozil ready for 'best derby in world'

Mesut Ozil says the whole world will be watching Wednesday evening's Copa del Rey semi-final first leg clash between Real Madrid and Barcelona at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.

• Blog: Get ready for rounds 15 & 16

The German international said in an interview published on Madrid's official website on Tuesday that clasicos were the biggest games in football, and players always looked forward to them.

"We will do everything we can to win," Ozil said. "It is the best derby in the world and the whole planet will be following it. It is always something special for us. The players want to show what we can do and always play against the best. We want to reward our fans with a win against Barcelona."

The game is the fourth meeting of the sides already this season, and two more clasicos are to come in the next few weeks. Ozil said memories of wins over Barca - such as the 2011 Copa del Rey final, last autumn's Spanish Supercopa win or the La Liga victory at the Camp Nou last April - always stuck in his mind.

"The best moments are when you win trophies with the club," he said. "That final against Barcelona, when we beat them in the Super Cup, or winning in La Liga, those stay in your memory for ever."

Madrid's team, especially at the back, will be below full-strength for the game. Goalkeeper Iker Casillas, defenders Sergio Ramos, Pepe and Fabio Coentrao, and winger Angel Di Maria, are all missing through either injury or suspension.

Nevertheless, Ozil said that the aim is to win on Wednesday and take a lead into the second leg at the Camp Nou in three weeks time.

"Naturally we know Barcelona have a very strong team, with very good players, but we are concentrating on ourselves," he said. "We are in good form and we are playing at home. Our aim is to win the match. We want to reach the final."

By contrast Barca travel to Madrid with a full squad to choose from, with Copa keeper Jose Pinto the only likely change to their strongest XI.

The Catalan club's assistant coach Jordi Roura insisted on Tuesday however that neither Madrid's absentees, nor Barca's 15 point advantage in the Primera Division standings, were necessarily an advantage for his side.

"Madrid, with the quality of its team and the big squad they have, will not be affected by the absences," Roura said. "I expect a Madrid team that is intense and difficult for us. They will be the Madrid of always, a super-competitive team. For me, the circumstances will make Madrid even more dangerous. With players or missing or without, they have a good squad, they are a great team."

Aware of how previous clasicos have boiled over regularly during Jose Mourinho's time in charge at Madrid, Roura said he expected this "competitive" side of their rivals' approach to stay within the laws of the game.

"Madrid always come out to play football," he said. "Each team has their own style, with their own characteristics. Madrid with its style, Barca with its style, will play a great game. I do not expect a dirty Madrid. Anything else would be out of place."

Roura, in charge as Barca boss Tito Vilanova remains in New York receiving medical treatment, said overseeing a clasico was not especially stressful.

"I am taking this calmly and naturally," he said. "It is just one more game and I am not playing. It is these extraordinary players who will be doing that."


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