The eternal rivalry of Spanish football, Barcelona vs Real Madrid, returns this Wednesday with a place in the Copa del Rey final up for grabs.
It’s the fifth installment of El Clasico this season.The fiesty pre-season friendly in the U.S showed that a game between these two heritage clubs has always had a lot at jeopardy for both’s reputation and historic rivalry, but even more so on this occasion as the winners will book their ticket for the next month’s Copa del Rey final.
Barcelona, for one, will aim to make it a quadruple of victories over Real Madrid since the turn of the year.
The Blaugrana should be full of optimism, as they have won three of the four El Clasico encounters this season. They also won a league encounter 2-1 on March 19 and the Supercopa de Espana final 3-1 in January, in addition to boasting a 1-0 advantage from the first-leg.
Xavi’s troops come into this encounter off the back of a comprehensive 4-0 victory against Elche in a league match Saturday. Robert Lewandowski got a brace, which increased the Polish superstar’s season tally to 27 goals in 34 competitive matches this season.
The summer addition of the former Bayern hitman and Raphinha (nine goals, eight assists) have propelled them in a commanding league leading position in the league.
Their rock-solid defence has also played a huge part in their domestic exploits, having conceded nine goals in 27 La Liga matches, the least in Europe’s top-5 leagues. Meanwhile, goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen boasts 20 clean sheets and a mind-blowing 88.7% save percentage.
While the hosts remain the favourites to reach the showpiece event this campaign against surprise finalist Osasuna in Seville, the reigning Spanish and Champions League winners aren’t the ones who will be ready to go down without a fight.
Real Madrid may have endured a late 2-1 defeat at Camp Nou a mere three weeks ago, but manager Carlo Ancelotti will be using that defeat as fuel to motivate his men to put on a resounding, statement display, and overturn their first leg deficit in enemy territory.
The current Ballon D’or holder, Karim Benzema, is also catching fire just at the right time as we head towards the crucial business end of the season, having scored a hat trick at the weekend in a 6-0 thrashing of Valladolid.
With so much firepower on display, and the stakes of this game, this showdown has the makings to be a cracker of a game with a lot of end-to-end, entertaining, and breathtaking stuff.
Barcelona vs Real Madrid predicted line-ups
Barcelona XI (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Kounde, Araujo, Alonso, Balde; Kessie, Busquets, Gavi; Raphinha, Lewandowski, Fati
Real Madrid XI (4-3-3): Courtois; Vazquez, Militao, Nacho, Alaba; Kroos, Tchouameni, Modric; Valverde, Benzema, Vinicius Jr
Barcelona and Real Madrid’s upcoming fixtures
Having been knocked out of both Champions League and Europa League this season, Barcelona will only have domestic action to look forward to after this Copa del Rey semi-final clash, and only league games if they fail to advance past Los Blancos here, which makes them heavy favourites to lift La Liga title.
The Blaugrana’s next three La Liga fixtures include Girona, Getafe, and Atletico Madrid.
As for Real Madrid, they have a packed schedule with Champions League double header against Chelsea sandwiched between La Liga action. After facing Barça, they Merengues will take on Villarreal over the weekend, before hosting the Blues for the first leg next Wednesday night.