Real Madrid-Barcelona Preview: Los Blancos look to draw first blood in pivotal cup tie
The capital club's recent revival will be put to the test when they host the runaway Liga leaders in a much-awaited Copa del Rey semi-final first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu
By Karthick Arvinth
Arbeloa, Albiol, Varane, Marcelo
Ozil, Modric, Ronaldo
Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Alba
Xavi, Busquets, Fabregas
Pedro, Messi, Iniesta
Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho has a number of selection problems heading into Wednesday's Clasico showdown against Barcelona.
Iker Casillas (broken hand) and Pepe (ankle) are out, meaning Antonio Adan and new signing Diego Lopez battle it out in goal, while Sergio Ramos, Fabio Coentrao and Angel Di Maria all serve suspensions.
However, Cristiano Ronaldo is expected to start despite hurting his ankle in Sunday's 4-0 win over Getafe.
Gerard Pique returns from suspension for Barcelona, who have a fully-fit squad at their disposal.
Jordi Alba, Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas are all likely to be recalled to the starting XI after they were rested for the weekend victory over Osasuna.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Real Madrid are on a 31-match unbeaten run at the Santiago Bernabeu in all competitions (W26, D5).
- The Castilian side have won just one of their last eight home encounters against Barcelona (W1, D2, L5).
- Cristiano Ronaldo (pictured, right) scored his 100th goal at the Bernabeu in the win over Getafe to take his overall tally for Real to 179 in 176 matches.
- Barcelona have won eight of their last nine away matches across all competitions.
- The Blaugrana ran out 4-3 aggregate winners in last season's Copa del Rey semi-final against Blancos.
- Pedro is in line to make his 200th appearance for Barca.
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Top 3 Predictions
Real Madrid CF 1-3 FC Barcelona
- 18.22 %
Real Madrid CF 3-1 FC Barcelona
- 13.04 %
Real Madrid CF 2-1 FC Barcelona
- 12.71 %
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||Oct 26, 2013||FC Barcelona 2 - Real Madrid CF 1|
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||Mar 2, 2013||Real Madrid CF 2 - FC Barcelona 1|
|Spain - Copa del Rey (ESPC)||Feb 26, 2013||FC Barcelona 1 - Real Madrid CF 3|
|Spain - Copa del Rey (ESPC)||Jan 30, 2013||Real Madrid CF 1 - FC Barcelona 1|
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||Oct 7, 2012||FC Barcelona 2 - Real Madrid CF 2|
|Real Madrid CF|
|Nov 30, 2013||Real Madrid CF 4 - Valladolid 0||LIGA|
|Nov 27, 2013||Real Madrid CF 4 - Galatasaray 1||UCL|
|Nov 23, 2013||Almeria 0 - Real Madrid CF 5||LIGA|
|Nov 9, 2013||Real Madrid CF 5 - Real Sociedad 1||LIGA|
|Nov 5, 2013||Juventus 2 - Real Madrid CF 2||UCL|
|25||Diego López Rodríguez||Goalkeeper|
|13||José Pinto Colorado||Goalkeeper|
|8||Andrés Iniesta Luján||Midfielder|
The Portugal star hit his 19th hat-trick for Madrid against Getafe on Sunday to take his overall goal tally in club football past the 300-mark. Ronaldo has notched seven goals in his last six Clasicos and will be the man Blancos will depend on to carry them past Barcelona.
Not to be outdone by Ronaldo, Messi netted four goals in Barca's 5-1 thumping of Osasuna to pass the 200-mark in La Liga. The Argentine will look to take advantage of some key absences in the Madrid rearguard and fire his team to a crucial away victory.
This is arguably Madrid's biggest game of the season so far. They have struggled to find any sort of consistency in La Liga and if they can beat Barcelona, it will provide a massive lift for the rest of their season. However, the visitors are in devastating form in front of goal and may prove too much for Blancos' second-string back line.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed