Real Madrid vs Barcelona: El Clasico PREVIEW

Written by on February 27, 2019

The second of the three-part miniseries will determine which of the Spanish giants will play for the Copa del Rey in March

Real Madrid host Barcelona at the Bernabeu in the second leg of their crunch Copa del Rey semi-final clash.

On February 6, the sides drew 1-1 at Camp Nou, with Lucas Vazquez’s early opener cancelled out by Malcom around the hour mark.

Real Madrid have won three of their four subsequent matches while Barca have picked up victories in only two, yet it is the Catalans who are favourites to progress from this clash.

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.

“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.

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