This week will give fans two Clasicos in only five days. But with big matches on the horizon for both clubs, this week will not only be about the great rivalry.
However, no matter what matches are coming up, the first Clasico of the week will be the most important.
With the aggregate score at 1-1, the match at Camp Nou will decide who books their place in the Copa del Rey final. Expect both teams to field their strongest lineup and give this match the upmost importance.
Barcelona’s Current Form
Despite their dominance throughout the current season, Barcelona is not playing their best football at the moment. But going into a Clasico battle, expect La Blaugrana to show up big time.
Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta have been the standout performers for Barcelona, but Dani Alves and Gerard Pique are also enjoying a great run of form recently.
Cules will be hoping that Barcelona shows their best side at Camp Nou, and they have every reason to expect such.
Real Madrid’s Current Form
Los Blancos have been part of an up-and-down season. But lately, the Madrid-based club has been showing very strong form. Despite a dismal showing against Deportivo in their last match, this team is very dangerous.
Against Deportivo, Jose Mourinho decided to rest many of his first-choice players ahead of the meeting with Barcelona. When things became desperate, the Madrid stars entered the game and completely took over.
Fans should expect the stars of Real Madrid to be at their best when they set foot in Camp Nou.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Mesut Ozil will be very vital for Los Blancos. But Madridistas should also expect a strong showing from Xabi Alonso and Sergio Ramos.
Barcelona Team News
Barcelona will be entering the Clasico with a completely healthy squad. Xavi and David Villa have both returned from injury and are looking very strong.
After such a strong showing against Sevilla, both David Villa and Cristian Tello have staked their claim to feature against Real Madrid. Ben Hayward of Goal.com has even claimed that the duo deserve to feature.
In an interview with Marca after the Sevilla match, Jordi Roura had these words to say regarding David Villa.
"We've always said that he's a key player for us who knows where the goal is. He scored tonight and if he manages to keep up his fitness, he has a role to play in this, the business end of the season."
Do not be surprised if either Villa or Tello make a surprise start at Camp Nou. But with the match deciding who will play in the final, the safe bet will be for Barcelona to play with their first choice XI.
Real Madrid Team News
There has been much news coming out of the Real Madrid camp over the last few days. Most importantly, it was announced that Xabi Alonso and Karim Benzema have both returned to training (via realmadrid).
There is no word yet on if either of these stars will start, but Alonso has proven to be a key performer against Barcelona.
But Mourinho will have a selection headache on his hands come Tuesday. Marca has claimed that Kaka and Gonzalo Higuain have both given reason to deserve a start. But the most interesting case may be that of Raphael Varane.
In an interview reported by Goal.com, Pepe stated that Varane was on the way to becoming the best defender in the world. After his amazing performance in the first leg, the French starlet could see the pitch again.
Predicted Barcelona Lineup
With this Clasico being an elimination match, Barcelona will absolutely start the game with their first-choice XI. Though some fringe players may have proven themselves recently, expect them to feature in the next Clasico instead.
It will yet again be Pinto who mans the goal for Barcelona as he always does in the Copa del Rey. In front of him, the normal Barcelona defense will certainly feature.
The midfield may be the most interesting place for Barcelona when trying to figure out the starting lineup. Sergio Busquets and Xavi are guaranteed starters, but the last spot will depend on whether Iniesta plays on the wing or not.
Jordi Roura will likely go with Cesc Fábregas in the midfield as usual, meaning Iniesta will again operate on the left wing. Lionel Messi and Pedro are locks to start the game up front giving the Catalans a very strong chance of advancing.
Here is the predicted lineup for the Catalans.
Dani Alves, Gerard Pique, Carles Puyol, Jordi Alba
Xavi, Sergio Busquets, Cesc Fábregas
Pedro, Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta
Predicted Real Madrid Starting Lineup
Predicting what lineup Mourinho will go with is always a tough test, but many expect the famous tactician to name a squad similar to the one he put out in the first leg.
Iker Casillas is still a month away from making a comeback which will give way for Diego Lopez to start in goal. But the toughest question regarding the lineup will be in defense.
With so many options for the back line, Mourinho could shock some viewers. The expected lineup will consist of Arbeloa and Fabio Coentrao on the sides with Sergio Ramos and Varane in the center.
Many will be questioning why Pepe will be dropped, but in all honestly, the defender has not looked his best since returning from injury, and has was very slow against Deportivo. Without Pepe at his best, he could be a liability for Mourinho.
The rest of the Madrid lineup should be fairly standard. Xabi Alonso and Sami Khedira will form a strong pair in the holding midfield roles, while Mesut Ozil will again run the offense in the center of the pitch.
On the right wing, Angel Di Maria should be given the nod, though the Argentine will be suspended for the second Clasico this week. He is available for the Copa del Rey.
Cristiano Ronaldo will obviously start as well with Gonzalo Higuain likely to be the sole striker with Benzema missing out due to just making his return.
Here is the predicted lineup for Los Blancos.
Arbeloa, Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Coentrao
Xabi Alonso, Khedira
Di Maria, Ozil, Cristiano Ronaldo
Clasicos are always unpredictable. Fans never know what the score will look like and there is always guaranteed shocking moments. But based on the lineup, current form and history, we can make some assumptions as to what will happen.
Expect Real Madrid to score. Barcelona has not kept a clean sheet in over 11 games which does not bode well for them. Los Blancos boast a strong attack and will find the back of the net.
Barcelona happens to be undefeated in their last 22 games at Camp Nou, but on the other hand, they have only won one of the last six meetings with Los Blancos (via Goal).
Also, it should be expected that both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo score. The two stars have been lights out this season and should be the difference makers at the Camp Nou.
But in the end, if history is any indication, fans should expect Barcelona to advance to the finals by beating Real Madrid.
The Clasico pair has faced off in doubleheaders on 13 occasions. Of those 26 games, Barcelona has won 12 matches and only lost seven (via fcbarcelona). In front of the Catalan crowd, Barcelona will be favorites entering the mouthwatering match.
Final Prediction: Barcelona 2-1 Real Madrid
What will be the keys for both teams? Who will be included in the starting lineups? More importantly, who will advance? Don’t forget to leave your thoughts and comments below!
Tre’ Atkinson. Follow me on twitter for more discussions on Barcelona, Real Madrid, La Liga and the Copa del Rey.
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