On Thursday night, Copa Del Rey is back for the 1st leg of the semi final as The Los Blancos host The Blaugranas at the Santiago Bernabeu for an El Clasico of high consequences
Real Madrid have pushed to their limits and kept breathing on the necks of their rivals Barcelona at the top of the LaLiga table. Although the Blaugranas have a lead of 7 points, the mettle of Carlo Ancelotti’s men was proved as Alvaro netted a late equalizer against local rivals Atletico Madrid to hand the Los Blancos a 1-1 draw in their recent run out in LaLiga. With a Champions League quarter final spot almost secured after a 5-2 drubbing of Liverpool in the 1st leg, they will be looking to further wound a Barcelona outfit who have not had the best of weeks recently. Madrid will aim to register their name for the 20th time on this title as a possible fixture against Osasuna or Athletic Club awaits in the final if they defeat Barcelona.
Xavi’s men were put to the sword in the UEFA Europa League by a refurbished Manchester United as they crashed out in the Round of 32 after a 4-3 defeat on aggregate. A 1-0 loss against UD Almeria at LaLiga in the weekend also meant that the Blaugranas lost for the first time in LaLiga this calendar year and also for the only time against the Indalicos in their history. Despite the loss, Xavi’s men can still feel confident of winning the LaLiga as the lead is in their favour. Barcelona have won the Copa Del Rey a record 31 times in their history, a feat achieved by no other Spanish club in the history of the competition.
Thursday, 2-03-2023; 08:00 pm (GMT)
Friday, 3-03-2023; 01:30 am (IST)
Real Madrid form (all competitions): D-W-W-W-W
FC Barcelona form (all competitions): L-L-W-D-W
Player to watch
Real Madrid: Karim Benzema
His goal might have sealed the tie against Liverpool at Anfield in the 1st leg of UEFA Champions League Round of 16, but the 2022 Ballon d’or winner still remains the most potent threat for Ancelotti. Netting 18 times this season across all competitions, he has become more of an overall forward who can play at any position nowadays.
FC Barcelona: Gavi
Gavi can be described as a reliably safe player in the different moments of the play, as he never jeopardizes possession of the ball, neither in the build-up, nor in situations closer to the penalty area that could lead to a possible dangerous counterattack from the opposition. With Pedri missing out due to injury, Barcelona will require his guile and finesse against a much experienced midfield of Real Madrid.
- Real Madrid last won the Copa Del Rey back in 2014 when they defeated Barcelona by 2-1 to win the trophy for the 19th time in their history.
- Barcelona have only won in their previous four games across all competitions with the last two being a defeat against relegation threatened Almeria and a 2-1 loss against Manchester United at Old Trafford in the UEFA Europa League.
- Barcelona’s one shot on goal against Almeria marked their fewest in La Liga since May 15, 2022, vs Getafe (0-0 draw).
Injury and team news
Real Madrid have had some injury concerns lately but there have been more issues of fatigue in their ranks after their recent set of fixtures in a row. Ferland Mendy has been out since January and after the hamstring injury of David Alaba against Liverpool, it is likely that Nacho will be shifting in at the left back role. Rodrygo has also faced problems with the left hip flexor as Marco Asensio is likely to take his place.
Robert Lewandowski has picked up a hamstring injury recently and if rumours are accurate. He looks set to miss a couple of weeks of action. On the other hand, two more key players for Barcelona, Pedri and Ousmane Dembele are already out of action due to muscle injuries. Ansu Fati might also miss the trip to Bernabeu following a bruised knee.
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Real Madrid: 101
FC Barcelona: 98
Real Madrid predicted lineup (4-3-3):
Courtois; Carvajal, Militao, Rudiger, Nacho; Modric, Kroos, Valverde; Asensio, Benzema, Vinicius Jr
FC Barcelona predicted lineup (4-3-3):
Ter Stegen; S. Roberto, Araujo, Christensen, Alba; Kessie, Busquets, Frenkie De Jong; Gavi, F. Torres, Raphinha
This will be a close encounter between two La Liga sides who are well balanced and under good guidance. Despite the fact that the Los Blancos are not soaring as high as they aim to be in the recent weeks in LaLiga. They will still be the favourites to grab this one with renewed hope and energy after a lifeline was gifted to them by Barcelona ahead of this much important fixture. With Barcelona finding it hard to cope up with injuries, they might just fall short at the end of the 1st leg.
Prediction: Real Madrid 2-1 FC Barcelona.
USA- Viaplay (Sky channel 412, Virgin Media channel 553).
Nigeria- No Telecast.
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