The first match of Hell Week between Real Madrid and Barcelona will be the crucial second leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final. This determines who moves on to the final and play either Valencia or Betis.
Real have no been as convincing as they were a few weeks ago with their play. They were quite lucky to win over the weekend against Levante with Bale’s penalty kick securing the three points. Now, they must be able to put up a near-perfect performance if they want to defeat Barcelona and advance to the final.
This is essentially the Copa del Rey final, with no offense to Valencia or Real Betis, El Clásico is the biggest fixture of this tournament. Barcelona is the toughest opponent Real has faced in the Copa and it will stay that way if they advance.
Real have a certain luxury of being at home where this will hopefully push and help them secure the victory, as they do on Saturday as well. The first leg ended in a 1-1 draw, but no doubt this match will be 100x more intense with a lot riding on Wednesday’s match.
This is the closest Real have been to a trophy this season so far, with them being a bit far behind Barcelona in LaLiga and the Champions League just starting back up. They certainly need this win to give them some confidence when they play Barcelona in the league match over this coming weekend.
Real Madrid will be without Marcos Llorente still, who is still recovering from his thigh injury. Isco wasn’t in the squad against Levante, though he has been back practicing with the team. Ramos is with the squad after being suspended for the Levante match this past weekend, they certainly need him with how he’s been playing as of late.
Barcelona are still without Jasper Cillessen and Arthur, though both are progressing on their individual injuries. Rafinha remains out while they will also be missing Thomas Vermaelen.
There are no suspensions for either side in this midweek Clásico.
Navas; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Vazquez, Vinicius, Benzema
Navas was the starter for Real in the first leg so one could assume that Solari will give him the nod to face off against Barcelona on Wednesday night as well. Ramos will most certainly be back in after missing the weekend match.
The right wing for Real Madrid remains a question for Santi Solari. Vazquez started against Levante over the weekend and Bale hasn’t started much since returning from injury. Both players will likely see time in this match at some point, though the question is who starts. The nod may be given to Vazquez based on recent history and because Bale can be a crucial factor later in the match.
Ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Umtiti, Alba; Vidal, Busquets, Rakitić; Messi, Coutinho, Suarez
2-1 Real Madrid-Barcelona
This match could be expected to ended similarly to the first leg in Barcelona. Real, aside from being at home, also have the benefit of scoring an away goal.
Wednesday night could also realistically go into extra time or even penalty kicks, just given how tightly these two clubs will be playing with a lot hanging on the line. Obviously, the biggest factor for Real is getting the front three going and getting Benzema and Vinicius back to scoring. Ramos being back for this match is also a huge factor for Real.
The other main factor is Lionel Messi, who has been on an absolute tear this season in the goals department. Messi didn’t start in the first leg, he most certainly will on Wednesday and Real need to keep close to him at all times.
This will be an interesting match and will be treated as a final for both sides. All Clásicos are important, but the stakes are infinitely raised when they happen in a tournament like this. Wednesday night will be the start to a tough week for Real that hopefully starts off on the right foot with an advancement to the Copa del Rey Final and a win over their rivals.