Real Madrid vs. Barca
Venue: Santiago Bernabeu
Kick off: 8:45PM
Just three days after locking horns at the Bernabeu in the second leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final, Real Madrid and Barcelona will meet once again, this time in La Liga.
Barca recorded a 3-0 victory at the Bernabeu on Wednesday night to book their spot in yet another Copa del Rey final and will be looking to pour more misery on their bitter rivals in Saturday’s El Clasico.
At the interval of Wednesday’s Copa del Rey semi-final second leg, it seemed impossible that Madrid would be on the end of a heavy defeat having absolutely dominated the first 45 minutes of action.
Vinicius Junior could have had a first-half hat trick, with only poor finishing and some smart goalkeeping from Marc-Andre ter Stegen seeing Barca, who did not have a shot on target in the first period, enter the break on level terms.
It is difficult to say that Barca were outstanding in the second half, but they scored three unanswered goals to secure a 4-1 aggregate victory and ease into the final of the competition at Madrid’s expense.
The Copa del Rey looked to be Madrid’s most realistic chance of silverware this season, but they are still live in the Champions League and will fancy their chances of advancing to the quarter-finals when they welcome Ajax for the second leg of their round of 16 tie next week.
Unless something incredible happens, though, Madrid are not going to win the league. They will enter Saturday night’s Clasico in third spot in the table, some nine points off leaders Barca on the same number of matches.
Santiago Solari’s side did beat Levante in the league last weekend to return to winning ways, but seven defeats at this stage is simply not good enough for a team that has ambitions of winning the championship.
Los Blancos are very much locked in a battle with Atletico Madrid for second position and will be desperate to give their supporters something to cheer following the disappointment of Wednesday night.
Worryingly, though, Madrid have not actually won a home Clasico in the league since October 2014, while they were thumped 5-1 at Camp Nou in the reverse match earlier this season.
All of the capital club’s eggs will once again be in the Champions League basket this term, but there is no downplaying the importance of this weekend’s clash as the European champions look to answer back.
Real Madrid possible XI: Courtois, Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo, Casemiro, Ceballos, Modric, Bale, Benzema, Vinicius.
Barcelona possible XI: Ter Stegen, Semedo, Umtiti, Pique, Alba, Rakitic, Busquets, Arthur, Dembele, L Suarez, Messi.