Real Madrid vs Barcelona : Real Madrid and Barcelona face off tonight at the Bernabeu for a place in the Copa del Rey final.
Real Madrid vs Barcelona
Spanish Copa del Rey, Semifinals
Place: Santiago Bernabeu – Madrid, ESP
Time: 3:00pm ET
Real Madrid vs Barcelona Live Stream
Real Madrid : Real Madrid have few significant selection problems, though Isco, who is training again, has been left out of their squad and Marcos Llorente is injured.
Keylor Navas should start in goal, but the usual Copa del Rey turnover will not take place for such a big match.
Possible Real Madrid starting XI: Navas; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Reguilon; Modric, Casemiro; Kroos, Bale, Benzema; Vinicius
Barcelona : Barcelona are still without Rafinha and Thomas Vermaelen, who have knee and calf problems respectively.
While there are doubts over Jasper Cillessen and Arthur, these are relatively minor and both have been named in the matchday squad. The keeper generally plays the Copa del Rey fixtures, but his injury may prevent him from doing so in this instance.
Possible Barcelona starting XI: Ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Umtiti, Alba; Roberto, Busquets, Rakitic; Messi, Suarez, Dembele
Real Madrid vs Barcelona : Match Preview
There was nothing to pick between Real Madrid and Barcelona when they met at Camp Nou earlier this month in a clash that finished 1-1, leaving the Copa del Rey semi-final between Spanish football’s giants delicately balanced.
Nevertheless, it is Barcelona who come into this match with the stronger mindset, undefeated in their last eight competitive matches, albeit having drawn four of these.
The Catalans’ finishing has been questioned at times over the last month, with scoreless draws against Club Athletic and Lyon setbacks for Ernesto Valverde’s men, yet when the chips have really been down, they have excelled.
On Saturday, they overwhelmed Sevilla 4-2 thanks to a Lionel Messi hat-trick, allowing them to maintain a seven-point advantage over Atletico Madrid in the league standings.
And it is to Messi that they will seek to be decisive on Wednesday, according to ex-Real Madrid star Luis Milla, who also turned out for Barca.
“I don’t think there’s a favourite, even if one side comes into it in better form than the other,” he explained. “The only substantial difference that I see between both teams is Messi.”
While Barca have been more consistent than their opponents, Madrid have shown a capacity to raise their game for the big occasion, impressing in the first leg and then winning 3-1 away from home in the derby against Atleti.
However, they required two penalties to beat Levante last weekend and flopped to a 2-1 loss to Girona in their outing prior to that.
Gareth Bale has taken centre stage over the past few days owing to his apparent frustration at being a substitute at the weekend, despite coming on and getting the winning goal.
Copa del Rey : Semifinals
“I loved how he came on and played with rage,” interim boss Santiago Solari said, defending his player. “He won us the game and did a great job. I thought he had a fantastic match.”
While Bale’s future in Madrid, which has been on a tightrope for months, appears as precarious as ever, Karim Benzema is loving life at the Bernabeu and is keen to showcase his worth in Wednesday’s crunch match.
“Before there was a guy who scored more than 50 goals per season and my role was to provide assists,” the striker told France Football.
“I played to help Cristiano, we formed a good partnership. I was always looking for him with the intention of helping him to score even more goals.
“Now though, I’m the leader of the attack. It’s up to me to make the difference. I’m very happy because now I can play my real football.”
Benzema is unlikely to ever replace CR7 in the hearts of the Madrid fans, but if he were to fire them to victory against their great rivals, it would be a healthy start.