The highly anticipated second leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final between two of the most successful football clubs in Spain, Barcelona and Real Madrid, is set to take place at Camp Nou on April 6, Thursday. With the Catalans already holding a 1-0 lead on aggregate from their previous fixture, Real Madrid must come up with a strong response to avoid their dreams of lifting their first Spanish Cup title since the 2013-14 season being shattered.
Whichever team emerges victorious on aggregate will get the opportunity to face either Osasuna or Athletic Bilbao in the summit clash. For Barcelona, Copa del Rey and La Liga are the only two titles they can win this season after their elimination from the Europa League. They have a 12-point lead over their rivals in La Liga and have won five games in a row. Despite facing a few off-field issues, they recently showcased an impressive display of football, winning 4-0 against Elche.
On the other hand, Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid has saved their best performances for the Champions League, but their struggles in domestic competitions are evident. They are placed second in La Liga standings with 59 points from 27 outings, having won only two of their last five matches. They have also struggled to break down opposition defenses, with Karim Benzema battling through injuries. However, their recent 6-0 victory over Real Valladolid could be the confidence booster they need to overcome Barcelona.
When it comes to their head-to-head record, both teams have met each other on 253 occasions in competitive fixtures, with Real Madrid emerging victorious in 101 games, and Barcelona winning 101, including their most recent triumph in La Liga. They have also played 34 exhibition games between them.
Barcelona will have to deal with injuries to four key players, Pedri, Ousmane Dembele, Frenkie de Jong, and Andreas Christensen, who are expected to miss the fixture due to hamstring and calf issues. On the other hand, Real Madrid’s Antonio Rudiger, who missed the last match with knee discomfort, remains doubtful, and Mariano Diaz sustained an unspecified setback in training.
Real Madrid is expected to start in their familiar 4-3-3 formation with Thibaut Courtois in goal, and Dani Carvajal, Nacho, Eder Militao, and David Alaba forming the defense. The midfield trio of Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, and Aurelien Tchouameni will be key, and Federico Valverde is likely to partner Benzema and Vinicius Jr up front. Barcelona is expected to field a similar-looking side that thrashed Elche, with Marc-Andre ter Stegen in goal, protected by Jules Kounde, Ronald Araujo, Marcos Alonso, and Jordi Alba. Franck Kessie will partner Sergio Busquets and Gavi in the midfield, with Ansu Fati, Robert Lewandowski, and Ferran Torres making up the front three.
In conclusion, the match between Barcelona and Real Madrid is expected to be an intense battle between two of Spain’s biggest football clubs. While Barcelona holds the advantage, Real Madrid is not one to back down from a challenge. Both teams have faced injuries and challenges this season, making the fixture even more unpredictable. Nevertheless, it is sure to be a thrilling match that will keep football fans on the edge of their seats.