Barcelona and Real Madrid set aside their domestic duties as another Clasico awaits in the form of the Copa del Rey semi finals, with La Blaugrana hosting Los Blancos at Camp Nou in the first of the two-legged showdown.
Wednesday's match will pit the competition's most successful club Barcelona (30 titles) against the third most successful, Real Madrid (19).
Ernesto Valverde's side head into the fixture looking to bounce back from a 2-2 draw at home the Valencia in La Liga, while Real swept aside Alaves with a 3-0 victory on Sunday.
Here's 90min's preview of Saturday's Copa del Rey clash.
Where to Watch
|When Is Kick Off?||Wednesday 6 February|
|What Time Is Kick Off?||20:00 (GMT)|
|Where Is it Played?||Camp Nou|
|TV Channel/Live Stream?||beIN Sports|
|Referee?||Antonio Mateu Lahoz|
Barcelona are sweating on the fitness of Lionel Messi ahead of Wednesday's giant clash, after the Argentinian appeared to pick up a knock during the second half of his side's 2-2 draw with Valencia on Saturday.
It does appear, however, that the 31-year-old will have recovered in time for Wednesday's encounter, and won't be joining long-term absentees Rafinha and Samuel Umtiti on the sidelines. The other major absentee for Ernesto Valverde's side is the suspension of Jordi Alba, whose yellow card on Saturday means he will have to miss out.
Real Madrid meanwhile, can boast an almost fully fit squad for the first leg, with the only players set to miss out being peripheral figures Jesus Vallejo and goalkeeper Luca Zidane.
|Barcelona||Ter Stegen; Semedo, Lenglet, Pique, Roberto; Arthur, Busquets, Rakitic; Coutinho, Suarez, Messi
|Real Madrid||Courtois; Carvajal, Varana, Ramos, Marcelo, Rakitic, Modric, Kroos, Vinicius, Benzema, Vazquez|
Head to Head Record
Los Blancos will be looking for redemption against Barcelona after Luis Suarez punished them in their first La Liga encounter of 2018/19 by bagging a hat-trick to make earn his side a 5-1 victory.
In all, Madrid hold the advantage for most El Clasico victories, with the 238 competitive matches between the sides across all competitions finishing with 95 Madrid wins to Barca's 93.
Valverde's men last beat the Blaugrana back in 2017, with two victories over their fierce rivals coming in the Super Cup, prior to that, however, was three years ago when goals from Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo handed them a 2-1 win at the Nou Camp.
While the form book is often thrown out of the window for El Clasico matches, it would be Real Madrid who would be the more confident if form was considered. Barring a first leg slip up to Leganes in the Copa del Rey round of 16, Santiago Solari's men are unbeaten in their last 12 matches, and have enjoyed something of a resurgence in 2019 after their early season wobble.
Barcelona on the other hand, will be disappointed with Saturday's home draw with Valencia, where they found themselves two goals down, only to be rescued by Messi's brace. Before that, they lost away to Sevilla 2-0 in the quarter final stage of this competition, yet produced a resounding second leg display to knock their opponents out 6-3 on aggregate, the two results sandwiching a routine La Liga victory over Girona.
Here's how each team has performed in their last five fixtures:
|Barcelona 2-2 Valencia (02/02)||Real Madrid 3-0 Alaves (03/02)|
|Barcelona 6-1 Sevilla (30/01)||Girona 1-3 Real Madrid (31/01)|
|Girona 0-2 Barcelona (27/01)
||Espanyol 2-4 Real Madrid (27/01)|
|Sevilla 2-0 Barcelona (23/01)||Real Madrid 4-2 Girona (24/01)|
|Barcelona 3-1 Leganes (20/01)
||Real Madrid 2-0 Sevilla (19/01)|
While nothing will be decided on Wednesday, with the fixture taking place over two legs, a big marker could be put down by either side as they take another step towards their first silverware of the season.
With Messi likely to have recovered from the knock he sustained against Valencia, two full strength teams will be on show in one of world football's biggest matches. The issue for Real Madrid, however, is that Barcelona's full strength side is superior to their own, meaning it will take an exceptional performance every player should they wish to gain a positive result on Wednesday.
The backing of the Nou Camp crowd, and the devastating ability of Barca's front three, will cause Solari's men all kinds of problems, and you feel they will head into the second leg with a strong advantage after this clash. It's difficult to see where Los Blancos will get goals from, while it's difficult to see where Barcelona won't.
Prediction: Barcelona 3-0 Real Madrid