Real Madrid vs Barcelona : El Clasico is back as Barcelona and Real Madrid face off in their first matchup of 2019. The Copa del Rey semifinals will be played over two legs, the first of which is occurring at the Camp Nou. Never has it been more critical for Madrid to come away with a win as their title hopes continue to look like a distant dream.
Real Madrid vs Barcelona
Time: 03:00p.m. ET
The Blaugrana are coming off a testy fixture at the weekend against Valencia – a match that ended 2-2 with star Lionel Messi exiting with an injury. The talisman is hopeful to return for El Clasico, but will make the decision a few hours ahead of kickoff.
Barcelona might even consider themselves lucky to be here, after going down in the first leg of the quarterfinals 2-0 to Sevilla. But you can never truly count out Messi, Suarez, Coutinho, and co. They stormed back last Wednesday in the second leg, besting Sevilla 6-1 in an absolute drubbing at the Camp Nou.
Madrid, meanwhile, managed to avoid theatrics in their quarterfinal matchup with Girona. Los Blancos won 7-3 on aggregate, easily dispatching their under-matched opponent over two legs.
After the season Real Madrid has had, you might’ve expected differently. They’re 8 points off Barcelona, who sit atop the La Liga table. Santiago Solari has brought some stability to the squad, but the deficiencies are still glaring at times. While they’re riding a four-match win streak in La Liga, they’ve lost to both Leganes (in Copa del Rey) and Real Sociedad (in La Liga) since the new year.
As Solari continues to tinker with the starting lineup, he also has to contend with the Madrid derby on Saturday. If any match rivals El Clasico in intensity, it’s the battle for Madrid supremacy. Solari can’t afford to sit his top players for either match, but in their uphill climb for trophies, Copa del Rey likely presents the better opportunity.