The team is already in Barcelona. Pepe is still doubtful but has traveled with the team (photo via Realmadrid.com)
It's all set, but only one thing is certain about tonight's game: this will be the last Clasico played for--at least--a couple of months. But there are a lot of other issues that remain to be seen, like Pepe's presence in the lineup or even which team will advance to the next round.
Barcelona enjoys a 1-2 margin due to last week's game, but Real Madrid has always been known for their ability to come back from very ugly results. Mourinho's team will try to get what would be a morale-lifting win tonight in the Camp Nou (22:00 local time).
Only Sami Khedira and Angel Di María are out of the lineup because of their injuries. It looked like the Argentinian winger would be able to play last Wednesday but he re-injured himself during the team's practice prior to the game. He is now set to rejoin the squad in February.
Real Madrid can't afford a defensive mindset in this game. Kaká and Mesut Özil could start together because of Di María's absence, leaving Callejón and Higuaín on the bench. The team needs to win the game and score at least two goals. After that, a victory would seal the pass to the Semifinals of the Copa del Rey. With that being known, Mourinho might set the trivot aside and play with the 4-2-3-1 formation that the team is used to, despite the fact that it's the formation that Barcelona feels more comfortable playing against--unfortunately, Real Madrid's task appears to be a very tough one.
Álvaro Arbeloa will be back from serving his one-game suspension after the red card he saw in the second game against Málaga, so Mourinho will not need to play Hamit Altintop at right back. The Turkish player did well last Wednesday though, so Real Madrid's coach will have to make a tough decision about whether to play him somewhere on the pitch.
Given that Pepe is ready to start, the pair of center backs should not be affected, and Ramos will be the chosen one alongside the Portuguese defender. Xabi Alonso and Lassana Diarra will probably play in the two-man midfield unless Mourinho wants to play with the same team that was on the field in the Supercup against Barcelona. With that scheme, Real Madrid drew 2-2 in the first game at the Bernabeu and lost 3-2 away in the Camp Nou with a late goal from Messi.
Mourinho's team played really well in those games and clearly deserved more. Whether the coach will plan to repeat this formation or not is still unknown, but Madrid needs to play offensively if they don't want to rely on set pieces and free kicks to get the two goals they need.
Hundreds of Real Madrid fans were at Barcelona's airport to welcome the team. The players looked quite relaxed before what promises to be a very important game for Mourinho's project. The fans are not expecting Real Madrid to advance to the next round, but they want the team to leave feeling that Madrid will be able to beat Barcelona in the following Clasicos.
Who will win the game?
Real Madrid (658 votes)
Draw (101 votes)
FC Barcelona (1046 votes)
1805 total votes