Another Classic: As Real Madrid host the Messi’s Catalans in Bernabeu

The Copa del Rey semi-finals return leg kicks off tonight as Real Madrid host their arch-rivals Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The winner in the clash between the Spanish giants tonight will be the domestic cup favourite facing either Betis or Valencia in the finals.

Real Madrid enter the clash as favourites following a 1-1 draw at the Camp Nou on Wednesday, February 6 as the Catalans failed to capitalise on their home advantage. A 0-0 draw will see Madrid advance to the finals.

The Catalans are usually dominant in this competition since 2015 and the Los Blancos will attempt to end their tenure as they are backed up by their home crowd.

Barcelona have been boosted with defender Samuel Umtiti back in the squad after being sidelined for over three months with a knee injury. The Catalans will be without the services of goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen who is ruled out due to injury.

Real Madrid could be without Spanish playmaker Isco who has a back issue. Marcos Llorente is also ruled out due to injury. However, their skipper Sergio Ramos will be back in action after missing their Sunday win against Levante due to suspension.

The two power-houses have met on 273 previous occasions across all competitions with Barcelona claiming 113 victories and Real Madrid clinching 99 wins. They have drawn in 61 occasions.

Barcelona’s Lionel Messi has dominated the El Clasico in the past decade scoring 26 goals netting 15 of them at the Santiago Bernabeu. The Argentine star is a regular assassin at the Santiago Bernabeu as he scored in La Liga, Champions League and Spanish Supercopa at the Bernabeu.

Barcelona’s Lionel Messi has dominated the El Clasico in the past decade scoring 26 goals netting 15 of them at the Santiago Bernabeu [Courtesy]

Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde will be in charge of his 100th match with the Catalans tonight as his side hopes to stop the Los Blancos.

“I would love to win, I won’t deny that. I didn’t know [it was my 100th game], but it’s an important game because it’s a semi-final, it’s a Clasico and we would like to go through,” Valverde said.

“It will be complicated. We have a scoreline which is not the one we would want, but it’s an open game and the match is to be decided. We know the quality of our rival. It will be an attractive game for the fans.

“Past results don’t have any bearing on what will happen in future. The stats show how things have gone, but we are more concerned about how we can win tonight. And that depends on how we play, on our style, on the players who play for them,” Valverde added.

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