Bale out, Benzema in: Barcelona-Real Madrid combined XI

Barcelona Real Madrid combined XI
Goal selects a combined XI of the two Spanish giants as they prepare to battle it out in the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey

La Liga leaders Barcelona will welcome arch-rivals Real Madrid to Camp Nou on Wednesday evening to contest the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final showdown.

The Catalan side have been victorious in the competition in each of the last four years, failing to make the final just once in the last eight seasons.

Real Madrid will be looking to avenge their 5-1 demolition in October that ultimately led to the dismissal of coach Julen Lopetegui.

Both sides are sporting injury issues heading into the match, but it will be no less of an epic display of some of the world's greats facing off with each other at Camp Nou.

Goal has rounded up the best-combined XI of both sides – and there are a fair few surprises in the mix...

  1. GK | Marc-Andre Ter Stegen | Barcelona

    GK | Marc-Andre Ter Stegen | Barcelona

    Jasper Cillessen would typically have started the match as the Barcelona goalkeeper, but the Netherlands international has been ruled out of the clash with a muscle injury.

    Ter Stegen, therefore, will be drafted in for his first Copa del Rey appearance this season and should follow on from his fine La Liga form.

    Thibaut Courtois and Keylor Navas have been impressive for Real Madrid, but Ter Stegen has been a different class for the league leaders, and gets a nod in the XI.

  2. DEF | Dani Carvajal | Real Madrid

    DEF | Dani Carvajal | Real Madrid

    Having to decide on the defence is difficult considering the choices, but Dani Carvajal gets the right-back nod ahead of Barcelona duo Sergi Roberto and Nelson Semedo, who have not been particularly remarkable this season.
  3. DEF | Sergio Ramos | Real Madrid
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    DEF | Sergio Ramos | Real Madrid

    Ramos has remained a sturdy rock at the heart of the Blancos defence while he has again been a prolific goalscorer this season as well.

    He has scored 10 goals this season, equalling his best return in a campaign, and netted a double in the Copa del Rey quarter-final first leg against Girona.

  4. DEF | Gerard Pique | Barcelona

    DEF | Gerard Pique | Barcelona

    Pique has impressed at the back for Barcelona and gets the nod ahead of Raphael Varane in central defence, who has been solid for Real Madrid, but his lack of consistency has cost him his place.
  5. DEF | Jordi Alba | Barcelona

    DEF | Jordi Alba | Barcelona

    Marcelo's unimpressive form so far this season means that Alba slots in easily at left-back, having produced an excellent campaign for Barcelona, making the four-man defence half Blaugrana and half Los Blancos.
  6. MID | Luka Modric | Real Madrid

    MID | Luka Modric | Real Madrid

    The Ballon d'Or winner and Croatia captain is the sole Real Madrid player to make the combined XI midfield, getting the nod over Toni Kroos who has not been at his best for the European champions this season.
  7. MID | Sergio Busquets | Barcelona

    MID | Sergio Busquets | Barcelona

    Busquets missed Barcelona's second-leg quarter-final tie against Valencia due to earning a fifth yellow card but will return to the team against Madrid.

    He joins a midfield trio of Modric and Barcelona team-mate Ivan Rakitic, despite the impressive displays of Casemiro, Arthur and Arturo Vidal this season.

  8. MID | Ivan Rakitic | Barcelona

    MID | Ivan Rakitic | Barcelona

    Partnering his Barcelona team-mate in central midfield is Rakitic, who has been integral in the Catalan side's push for the Liga title as a playmaker and has missed just one league game all campaign.
  9. FW | Lionel Messi | Barcelona

    FW | Lionel Messi | Barcelona

    Barcelona's star man is facing a race against time to be match-fit for the semi-final after picking up a thigh injury aginat Valencia on Saturday.

    He has trained with the squad on Tuesday, however, though no official decision has been made about his availability. He and his team will be sweating over his progress until the very last possible minute.

    Injury aside, however, Messi's inclusion in the combined XI is a no-brainer. The Argentine seems to get better with each and every season, having already netted 29 times in 27 matches in all competitions and topping both the Liga and European Golden Shoe scoring charts.

  10. FW | Luis Suarez | Barcelona

    FW | Luis Suarez | Barcelona

    The Uruguay international joins his Barcelona strike partner in the combined XI attack, having scored 16 goals in 29 appearances so far this season.
  11. FW | Karim Benzema | Real Madrid
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    FW | Karim Benzema | Real Madrid

    Gareth Bale's injuries have ruled him out of contention and though Vinicius Jr has been impressive in recent fixtures, Karim Benzema wins a place in the combined XI's attacking front-three.

    The Frenchman has enjoyed somewhat of a rejuvenated season so far, scoring his 18th goal of the season in Sunday's 3-0 win over Alaves. He's also bagged four goals in the Copa del Rey and looks to be a goal threat for Real Madrid once again.