By Our Correspondent
It is time for El Clasico once again, as Real Madrid takes on perennial rivals Barcelona in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final.
The third Clasico of the 2022-23 season pits the two heavyweights against each other in a third different competition.
Having already faced in La Liga and the Supercopa de Espana in Saudi Arabia, Los Blancos won comfortably 3-1 in the former, with La Blaugrana taking the revenge by beating their arch-rivals by the same scoreline in the latter.
The biggest rivalry in Spanish football will add another brand new chapter on Thursday night as FC Barcelona and Real Madrid go head-to-head in the first of three El Clasico clashes in little over a month.
While Barça seven points clear atop La Liga’s table, Real Madrid are the form team coming into this match after dismantling Liverpool 5-2 in Europe.
However, they showcased complacency and needed a late equaliser to salvage a point against ten-man Atletico Madrid last time out.
Meanwhile, Barcelona’s form has taken a hit in recent weeks, with a shock defeat to relegation-threatened Almeria at the weekend off the back of a Europa League exit at the hands of Manchester United.
With Pedri and Gavi already in the treatment room, Robert Lewandowski’s hamstring injury further adds to the visitors’ troubles.
As ever, this El Clasico will feature some of football’s most dangerous attacking players, and both Real Madrid and Barcelona have a number of lethal weapons in their inventory, even without Lewandowski.
With this in mind, an entertaining and fiery game could be on the cards at the Bernabeu.
Real Madrid vs FC Barcelona probable line-ups
Real Madrid XI (4-3-3): Courtois; Carvajal, Militao, Rudiger, Nacho; Kroos, Tchouameni, Modric; Valverde, Benzema, Vinicius Jr
FC Barcelona XI (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Kounde, Araujo, Christensen, Balde; De Jong, Busquets, Roberto; Raphinha, Torres, Gavi
Real Madrid’s and FC Barcelona’s upcoming fixtures
After the El Classico, defending La Liga and Champions League winners Real Madrid make a tricky trip away to Andalusia to take on top-four hopefuls Real Betis on the 6th March.
Los Blancos then welcome mid-tablers Espanyol to the Bernabeu next weekend, followed by a Champions League last 16 return leg against Liverpool, where they boast a healthy three-goal buffer from the first-leg.
On the other hand, FC Barcelona have no European competition to look forward to.
The Blaugrana will host Valencia on the 5th March, followed by an exciting trip to Basque country to face Athletic Club next weekend.
Xavi’s troops will then complete a full circle with the fourth instalment of El Clasico against Real Madrid on 20th March, which will be pivotal in context to the title race.