Real Madrid vs Barcelona: Copa del Rey semifinal will be licking their lips in anticipation of the third El Clasico of this season
Real Madrid and Barcelona prepare to face each other twice in space of four days, first at Santiago Bernabéu on February 28 followed by a La Liga fixture on the same ground on March 3.
The first leg of the semi-final played on February 7 at Camp Nou ended with both sides scoring a goal each. Lucas Vazquez had put Los Blancos in front after just six minutes but Malcom equalised three minutes before the hour mark to leave the tie in balance.
The draw implies that Copa Del Rey trophy holders Barcelona will have to score in the second leg if they want to move forward in the competition.
With 7 losses and 3 draws, Real Madrid have had a disappointing La Liga campaign and Copa Del Rey could be their easiest way to glory in Spain.
The two teams enter the fixture after winning their respective La Liga matches albeit in contrasting styles. While Barcelona cruised past Sevilla with a 4-2 win riding on a Lionel Messi hat-trick, Madrid beat Levante 2-1 in a controversial style.
Real Madrid vs BarcelonaTeam News
Real Madrid will heave a sigh of relief as their captain Sergio Ramos would be back in action after serving a red card suspension against Levante. Isco and Marcelo missed out against Levante with injuries but the Brazillian is expected to be fit. Lucas Vazquez was handed the start against Levante, with Gareth Bale and Marco Asensio on the bench. Bale came off the bench and scored a penalty but it remains to be seen if his cameo was enough to guarantee a start.
In the opposite camp, Barcelona will miss the services of Thomas Vermaelen, Arthur and Rafinha owing to long term injuries. Over the weekend Clement Lenglet missed out due to a viral infection but the biggest surprise was the inclusion of defender Samuel Umtiti who made his first start since November 24. Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho will vie for the final spot in the front three.
Real Madrid vs Barcelona Possible XI
Real Madrid (formation 4-3-3): Courtois, Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Reguilon, Modric, Casemiro, Kroos, Vazquez, Benzema, Junior/Bale
Barcelona (formation 4-3-3): ter Stegen, Semedo, Pique, Umtiti, Alba, Vidal, Busquets, Rakitic, Messi, Suarez, Coutiniho/ Dembele.
Players to watch out for
Luka Modric (Real Madrid)
In a high octane match like an El Clásico, Madrid would want Luka Modric to be at his prime. Modirc combines well with Toni Kroos in the heart of the mid-field to control the game.
The 33-year-old Croatian has a pass success percentage of 89.6 in La Liga this season. Further he has 2 goals and 4 assists in the Spanish League. His dribbles, through balls, long shots and key passes are work of a magician. He could be Real’s most vital player against Barcelona.
Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
The Barcelona great scored a brilliant hat-trick and assisted the fourth to secure victory against Sevilla.
It was his career’s 50th hat-trick. He is the top goal getter in this season’s La Liga with 25. With 26 goals he is all time top goal scorer in the history of El Clásico. Against a hostile and vociferous Bernabéu crowd it could be Messi’s brilliance that could be the difference.
Head-To-Head (last six matches)
Real Madrid: 2
The match is scheduled to kick-off at 1.30 AM IST.
Real Madrid vs BarcelonaPredictions:
Real Madrid have struggled to hit top gear this season and Barcelona’s current form make them a firm favourite for the fixture.