The first El Clasico of 2019 takes place Wednesday night at the Camp Nou, the first leg of this Copa del Rey semi-final.
Trying to forget the first Clasico this season in Barcelona, Real Madrid have definitely improved much since that October embarrassment. Real have been on a tear as of late, winning their last five matches across all competitions. This will be their biggest challenge of not only the Copa del Rey, but of 2019 so far.
Lionel Messi is still a doubt, included in the squad but still a match decision that will be made likely close to the starting whistle. Even if he doesn’t feature, Barcelona are a dangerous as we saw in the first El Clasico without Messi, which included a hat trick by Luis Suarez.
Real are going to need their best to show up at the Camp Nou, they can’t afford to concede too much, which luckily has not been a problem as of late. Benzema and Vinicius will be look at to continue their great form as well.
Real Madrid will still be without Jesus Vallejo, other than that they are fully fit for the first time in a long time.
Barcelona are still without Samuel Umtiti and Rafinha. They are now without Jasper Cillessen, who was recently announced as missing the next six weeks of play. A big loss for them, as he has been great for Barca in the Copa del Rey. And, of course, Messi is still a game-time decision.
There are no suspensions for either side in Wednesday’s Clasico.
Navas; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Bale, Vinicius, Benzema
Navas started the last Copa match, but it’ll be interesting to see who Solari goes with since this is such a big match.
Kroos was rested over the weekend so he should be ready to go against Barcelona as a starter.
The other question is who starts on the left side on Wednesday night. Solari may start Bale, but he could also use him as a super-sub late in the match. The other options to start instead of Bale of course would be Vazquez or even Asensio.
Ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Arthur; Messi(?), Coutinho, Suarez
Barcelona-Real Madrid 3-3
This might end up being a high scoring match, given that Barcelona score a lot and Real have been much better in the way of goals as of late. Real can use tomorrow’s match as a way to get a couple of away goals, which can always end up crucial.
As said before, Benzema and Vinicius will be looked towards to contribute at the same level they have been. Their forms could end up making a huge difference that just wasn’t there back in October.
Needless to say, this is a huge match and the stakes of the round in the Copa del Rey have been infinitely raised. Two Clasicos over two legs is something great to witness and will hopefully yield a much better result than a 5-1 loss for Real.
It’s certainly not easy, this is the toughest Real have had it in this competition. They have to be ready for an absolute war on Wednesday night and seek redemption.
And if the stakes weren’t high enough, there’s the Derbi Madrileño awaiting this weekend as well. This is where Real need to prove they’ve turned things around and can play alongside the two best in Spain this season.