Match Preview: Real Madrid vs Barcelona

Real Madrid host Barcelona at the Bernabeu, in the first of two El Clasicos taking place this week.

Spain’s arch-rivals meet in the second leg of the Copa del Rey semi-finals tonight, with the tie poised at 1-1 following a draw at Barcelona earlier this month.

The Catalans have won the Spanish cup in each of the last four campaigns, while Real Madrid are looking to win this competition for just the third time since 1993.

This clash will be Ernesto Valverde’s 100th match as Barca coach and a win would put him on course to win his fourth trophy.

Team news

The European champions will have their captain Sergio Ramos back and available after the center back missed the win over Levante on Sunday night through suspension.

Isco is unavailable with a back issue, and Marcos Llorente is also still out with a thigh strain.

Barcelona will probably miss Arthur Melo, with Rafinha, Vermaelen and Jasper Cillesen also being unavailable. Cillessen would have started between the sticks had he been fit, but the Dutchman’s absence means that Marc-Andre ter Stegen will feature in goal.

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Samuel Umtiti is back and 100 percent fit, according to his manager, after being over three months out with a knee injury.

What did the managers say

Real Madrid coach Santiago Solari insists Gareth Bale and the rest of the squad are “all together”, despite the Welshman’s choice not to celebrate his winning goal against Levante on Sunday.

“We are all standing united in the hope of winning as a team tomorrow. We have already spoken about Gareth, our focus now is on tomorrow’s game and we hope to live up to the demands of the tie.

“The team knows that they are doing well, they know where we need to be. We are enjoying the competition. We put our heart and soul into this. We battle hard to win every game. We want to enjoy it.”

Ernesto Valverde said that he would like to celebrate his 100th game as Barcelona coach by securing another Copa del Rey final for the club.

“I’d love to celebrate it by getting through to the final. I didn’t know about the number, but it’s an important game. It’s a semi-final, a Clasico and an important match.

“It’ll be tough, the scoreline from the first leg isn’t what we’d like from the start, but it’s an open game and everything can happen. We know how good they are and they’ll be looking to get through, just like we are.”

Stats

  • Barcelona have won 30 Copa del Rey trophies, winning it four times in a row in the period from 2015 to 2018.
  • The Catalans have lost their away games in the previous two rounds of the competition (2-0 to Sevilla and 2-1 to Levante).
  • Real Madrid have reached the final of the Copa only once in the past five campaigns, in 2014.
  • Los Blancos won only two of the last eight games against their arch-rivals.
  • Madrid managed to keep a clean sheet only twice in their last 12 games. If they do it tonight, their progress to the Copa final is guaranteed.

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