European champions Real Madrid welcome La Liga leaders Barcelona to the Santiago Bernabeu for the second leg of their Copa del Rey semifinal on Wednesday night. 


The two iconic rivals played out a fascinating 1-1 draw in the first leg, at Camp Nou, and will do everything in their power to better that outcome, tonight, in the Spanish capital. 

Real Madrid, due to their inconsistent patches this season, came into the tie as the underdogs. However, at Camp Nou, we saw a totally different Real Madrid in action. They were creating chances, defending religiously, and managed to outplay Barcelona in their own backyard. Lucas Vazquez drew first blood in the 6th minute to set the tempo, which Real Madrid maintained until the final whistle. Barcelona, thanks to a common Marcelo mistake, still got themselves back into the contest through Malcom’s firm strike in the second half. 

So, the 1-1 scoreline does seem like a decent one from Real Madrid’s perspective as they need a goalless draw or better to secure their place in the Copa del Rey final — their first since the 2013/14 campaign. However, considering how great Barcelona have been at the Santiago Bernabeu — without defeat at the Bernabeu since October 2014 — lately, the narrow margin hardly provides any protection. 

Key Players

Barcelona

Lionel Messi

This one is pretty much a no-brainer. The best player in La Liga and possibly the world, Lionel Messi needs to have a spotless game to help his side make it to the finals. Last weekend, the Argentine shrugged off injury concerns to score a decisive hat-trick in a 4-2 win at Sevilla. Tonight, he will once again be marked heavily and will have to put in a shift. But knowing just how capable the Barcelona skipper is, there is no reason for fans to be anxious. Lionel Messi has registered a whopping 33 goals and 18 assists in 32 appearances across all competitions this season and will fancy himself to add to his tally, tonight. 

Real Madrid

Gareth Bale

Following Cristiano Ronaldo‘s departure, the Welshman was supposed to emerge as Real Madrid’s most important, decisive player. Sadly, things haven’t been quite straightforward for the former Tottenham Hotspur ace. During his absence, Vinicius Junior made his way into the team and has managed to make himself an indispensable member of Santiago Solari’s squad. Having lost his place to an 18-year-old, the most expensive player in the squad has been acting out, landing the team in a complicated situation. The Welsh wizard is desperate for an opportunity to win his place back, and an emphatic performance against Real’s fiercest rivals could go a long way in helping his cause. 

Probable XI

Real Madrid (4-3-3): Navas; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Kroos, Casemiro, Modric; Vazquez, Benzema, Vinicius

Barcelona (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Umtiti, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Vidal; Messi, Suarez, Dembele

Prediction

El Clasico is one of the most decorated and intense rivalries in the world. These two iconic sides have played out some fascinating fixtures over the years, and we expect nothing less tonight. Barcelona seem to be the more in-form team right now, but a desperate Real Madrid will not be an easy team to beat.

We predict Real Madrid to beat Barcelona on penalties.

Also Read: Rivalry beyond years

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