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Spain’s best clash

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Real Madrid vs Barcelona preview

Barcelona’s season suffered a heavy setback last week after a resurgent Manchester United knocked them out of the Europa League. To make matters worse, they then lost to Almeria, a team deep in the relegation battle in the league. And now they face their fiercest rival Real Madrid in the first leg of the Copa del Rey at the Santiago Bernabeu. Los Blancos also had a week of highs and lows as they defeated Liverpool 5-2 at Anfield but could only manage a draw at home against Atletico Madrid in the league. This is despite the fact that Atletico played with ten men for the last 26 minutes.

However, now the focus will shift to a new tournament where both teams will look for bragging rights by winning the match. In the current season, both teams have one win to their name. While Real Madrid won the league clash in October, Barcelona defeated their rivals in the Supercopa de Espana in January.

While Xavi’s men may have been knocked out of Europa League, they still hold a seven-point advantage in the league. However, players of both teams tend to raise their game for the clash, which means on their day, any team can thrash the other. 

Real Madrid started the season very poorly but have turned around their form recently, but that has not been enough to match the incredibly consistent form of Barcelona. 

On the other hand, Barcelona have been impeccable, with star striker Robert Lewandowski leading with 15 goals, the most by any player in the league to his name. However, their defence has been the bedrock of their success. The team has conceded eight goals in 23 matches, the best across the top five leagues in Europe.

Real Madrid are paying the price for a horrible start to the season and defeating Barcelona in the Copa del Rey will give them the confidence to try to catch the Catalans in the league title race.

Real Madrid vs Barcelona team news

Real Madrid will be without their left-back Ferland Mendy, who has a muscle injury. In addition, centre-back David Alaba and Rodrygo are also injured at the moment. However, Rodrygo could still be fit in time for the clash. Apart from that, Carlo Ancelotti has a fully healthy squad to choose from. This means Thibaut Courtois will start in goal, with Nacho, Antonio Rudiger, Eder Militao, and Dani Carvajal forming the backline. Ahead of them will be the midfield trio of Eduardo Camavinga, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos. In the attack, Vinicius Jr will partner with Karim Benzema and Rodrygo.

Real Madrid Predicted Line-up: Courtois: Nacho, Rudiger, Militao, Carvajal; Camavinga, Modric, Kroos; Vinicius Jr, Benzema, Rodrygo

Barcelona are currently without four of their key players in Lewandowski, Pedri, Ousmane Dembele, and Ansu Fati. Out of these, only Fati and Dembele are expected to be fit for the clash. The unavailability of Lewandowski and Pedri will hurt the team most, who have been entirely reliant on the duo this season. This means Marc Andre Ter Stegen will start in goal, with Jordi Alba, Eric Garcia, Andreas Christensen, and Jules Kounde acting as the backline. In Pedri’s absence, Sergio Busquets, Frenkie de Jong and Gavi will form the midfield. If Fati manages to return, then he will form an attacking triumvirate with Ferran Torres and Raphinha.

Barcelona Predicted Line-up: Ter Stegen; Alba, Garcia, Christensen, Kounde; Busquets, de Jong, Pedri; Torres, Fati, Raphinha 

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Key Players

Whenever Real Madrid are in a precarious situation, Karim Benzema has been the man pulling them out of it. The Ballon d’Or winner will once again be the leading man for Los Blancos if they are to establish a considerable advantage in the first leg. The Frenchman has 11 goals in the league and one in Copa del Rey, which came against Atletico Madrid in the previous round.

Without Barcelona’s two most important players, the focus will be on Frenkie de Jong. The Dutch midfielder has been impressive in recent outings and will be expected to control the game’s flow. In the absence of Lewandowski, Barcelona will need to ensure that the opposition has less of the ball, and de Jong will be the key to it.

Real Madrid vs Barcelona predictions 

The match represents a chance for both teams to get past the minor hiccoughs they have faced recently. While Barcelona only have the league to look forward to, Real Madrid’s form in the Champions League could motivate Carlo Ancelotti to put all his resources into that competition. This leaves only the Copa del Rey as a tournament where the two teams are on equal footing and will be looking to get one over their rivals.

And with the home crowd behind them and Real Madrid’s incredible run in the Cup clashes, Barcelona might find themselves on the losing side.

FootTheBall predicts a 2-1 win for Real Madrid.

Saumy Deepak Tripathi
A Bayern Munich fan who is deeply in love with football statistics. Has a soft spot for goalkeepers! (well only he knows why). You’ll find him vibing on 70’s classic songs and spends an abnormal amount of time cooking.

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