Real Madrid vs. Barcelona

Real Madrid vs. Barcelona

While there is little love lost between any of the Barcelona and Real Madrid players, there was nearly an unsavoury flashpoint at the end of the first half when Messi tangled with Sergio Ramos, before appearing to be caught in the face by a trailing arm from the Real Madrid captain. Recalled to the starting XI by Santiago Solari, the Wales forward sent an early free-kick over the bar and from then on, things went downhill before he was eventually replaced by Marco Asensio, to some jeers from the home support, as he slumped off into the dugout.

Wednesday saw Luis Suarez score twice as Barca stunned Real Madrid 3-0 in the Bernabeu to book their place in the final of the Copa del Rey and slam the door on another title for Real Madrid. Real Madrid now sits third in the Spanish league, trailing eternal rival Barcelona by nine points. Barca knows its much better than Real, and they'll look to take the chance to humiliate them again.

Despite Santiago Solari trying a massive turnaround, Zinedine Zidane's impact is also evident now that he has gone.

Los Blancos only have Nacho's absence to deal with, while the Catalan giants have no new injury concerns to contend with.

Real Madrid will be without central defender Nacho Fernandez through suspension, which means Rafael Varane's fitness is important after he ended Wednesday with a nasty looking knock to his shin.

Barca captain Lionel Messi, the star of football's greatest spectacle in the absence of great rival Cristiano Ronaldo, went close on 37 minutes with a free kick, firing just over the bar with the weight of expectation and anxiety nearly palpable.

The one consolation among the negatives is that Real Madrid are known for scaling the biggest mountains. Losing effectively would end Real Madrid's hopes of winning a domestic trophy this season.

A hardcore Mohunbagan fan who loves Brazil and Real Madrid.

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