Barcelona vs Real Madrid: El Clasico rivals are set to square off at Camp Nou in the first leg of the Copa Del Rey semi-finals on Wednesday night.
Aiming to lift the trophy for the fifth season in succession, the hosts, having already seen off Cultural Leonesa and Levante, produced an epic comeback against Sevilla to book their place in the last four.
Trailing 2-0 from the initial meeting in Andalusia, Ernesto Valverde’s side produced a sparkling second-leg display and cruised to a 6-1 victory thanks to a Philippe Coutinho brace and further efforts from Ivan Rakitic, Sergi Roberto, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi.
Real Madrid, who currently sit third and eight points behind Barcelona in LaLiga, have not won the competition since 2014 and thrashed third-division minnows Melilla in the last 32.
They later brushed aside Leganes before a comfortable two-legged defeat of Girona to set up an El Clasico clash in the Copa del Rey semis.
Score prediction: Barcelona 2-1 Real Madrid
Real Madrid’s crushing 5-1 loss on their last visit to the Camp Nou was a fifth in six matches and curtailed the dismal, shortlived reign of Julen Lopetegui after just four and a half months.
However, they have won each of their last four matches across all competitions under Santiago Solari and will be desperate to give a better account of themselves this time around.
Barcelona should be aiming to keep their treble hopes alive and kicking and may settle for taking a narrow first-leg lead to the Santiago Bernabeu for the return fixture which takes place on February 27 – three days before the two teams go head-to-head again in the league at the same venue.
Team news and predicted line-ups
Lionel Messi is a doubt for this fixture after sustaining an injury during the 2-2 La Liga draw with Valencia on Saturday.
The Argentine netted twice as Barcelona came from two goals down to claim a point but required treatment on the sidelines after appearing to sustain a thigh issue.
“I don’t know exactly what he has,” Valverde said on Messi afterwards. “We will have to wait to see what medical staff say. If he’s in good shape, he’ll play on Wednesday.”
Messi missed training on Monday and his manager will be wary of other important upcoming fixtures against the likes of Lyon.
Ousmane Dembele could return to cover Messi in the event he did miss out, but regular Copa Del Rey goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen has a torn calf muscle. Samuel Umtiti has not played since November due to a knee injury.
Real Madrid, by contrast, have a relatively clean bill of health at present, with only Jesus Vallejo and Luca Zidane (both hamstring) absent.
Barcelona XI: Ter Stegen,Roberto, Pique, Lenglet, Alba, Busquets, Rakitic, Arthur, Suarez, Dembele, Coutinho
Real Madrid XI: Courtois, Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Reguilon, Modric, Casemiro, Kroos, Vazquez, Benzema, Vinicius
Head To Head
As mentioned, the pair have only met once this season and that was Barcelona’s 5-1 league win back in October.
Barcelona have enjoyed a lot of recent success in El Clasico, but Madrid have a recent Camp Nou victory to their name, having recorded a 2-1 success in April 2016.
In all, Wednesday will bring their 239th competitive match. Madrid lead the head-to-head 95 wins to Barcelona’s 93, with the remaining 50 games finishing level.